December is a month erupting with dreams, wishes and counting down the minutes until the special day. However football fans anxiously await midnight of New Year’s Eve… the beginning of change. The academy may be the solution with many young talent just waiting to shine.
United are slowly beginning to lose their claim of having the best academy to the likes of City and Chelsea. As a result, the club are starting to invest more into the youth approximately spending £50-80 million on the hottest prospects.
The youth has much hidden talent which the football world could possibly be witnessing in the next two years.
Tahith Chong: Academy years.
Tahith Chong became a regular in the Feyenoord youth team at the age of 10 and it wasn’t long before he was on the radar of Premier League clubs. For this reason he is one of his countries hottest prospects. Subsequently, United was urging him to seal the deal and on 27th July 2016 he was joining at the age of 16. Although, there was a possibility that Chong could have signed for Chelsea, providing he wasn’t able to convince his parents that United is where his future lies.
During his time at the under-23’s he contributed to 24 goals in 35 games but also netted 15 goals in 22 matches for the under-18s. Additionally, in his first season, he scored an astonishing goal at Old Trafford back in the 2016/17 FA youth cup. Hense securing him with the Jimmy Murphy young player of year award for 2018 ahead of his team mates James Garner and Lee O’Connor.
Chong can play as both a right and left winger although he naturally plays on the right. His steady development earned him his first senior call up when United played Juventus at home and he was named on the bench. Shortly after on the 5th January 2019, he was given his much awaited debut in the FA-cup win against reading.
Furthermore, Chong benefited when he made his appearance in the later stages of the victorious comeback against PSG in the Champions League.
Kieran McKenna had a few words to say regarding Chong: “Tahith has hit the ground in his time at here and I think he’s just a fantastic professional. He has the right attitude to training and looks after himself well off the pitch. He’s really personable and good with the staff and players, which has helped him to settle in quickly.“
“On the pitch, everyone has been excited by his performances, he’s an eye catching player. well just keep pushing him to add to that with an end product so he can get goals and assists, as he has been doing, and can have a bright future in the game.”
Respectively, United’s decision was to provide him with more experience on loan. At the start of the 20/21 campaign he would join Werder Bremen on a season-long loan.
Although Chong was able to influence the play at United, his time at Werder Bremen is not going so smoothly. Even though he scored on his debut in September. Chong has only nine appearances with the team, six of those being from of the bench.
Werder Bremen head of football had a few things to say: “There needs to be patience over the 21-year old’s performance. Don’t forget he is a young player. We should give him a little time. He is dangerous because of his speed and one-to-one behaviour,which is incredibly value to us. We see development there. It’s going in the right direction.”
The club are still unsure if they would like to extend his loan contract after the summer.
James Garner: Academy years.
James Garner joined Manchester United on 1st July 2017, making his first appearance for the club as a substitute for the under-18s towards the end of the 2017/18 season in the games against Arsenal and Blackburn Rovers. Despite being a member of the club since the age of 8. He initially played as a centre-back until the age of 15, later transitioning into midfield. He also compares him self to Michael Carrick and treasures the moment he got to work under him.
His astounding leadership qualities and amazing work in the middle secured the young reds winning the 2017/18 Premier League North title. At under-18 level he had an overall total of 24 appearances, scoring 3 goals. Resulting in him shortlisting for the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award. Furthermore, his influential performance in midfield caused him to be voted the 2019/20 Denzil Haroun Reserve Team Player of the Year.
He has been showing star quality throughout his progression through the academy and provided a crucial goal in the under-19 match against Club Brugge when he drove up the pitch and executed a smooth finish into the bottom corner of the goal.
1st team opportunity.
Garner, one of the academy graduates included in the 2019 squad. While on tour, he scored his first senior goal in a 2-0 win over Perth Glory, catching the eye of the manager (Ole Gunner Solskjaer) and fellow team mates. The win against West Brom for the under-23s showcased his brilliance on the ball and his ability to strike screamers which lead to more senior appearances in the premier league and the Europa League.
After many games on the first team bench, Garner finally made his debut as a late substitute in the match against Crystal Palace back in February 2019. This moment was one which he will cherish.
When asked about his debut he says : “I’m made up obviously it’s a moment I’ve been working for since the under-8s and under-9s.
“I’m proud of myself and for my family but I think it’s only the start.
“It’s even more special to sign at Old Trafford. It would still have been special signing at the Aon Training Complex but this is even more special. Winning the league, having a good season and now this just caps it off as having a good season for me.”
His last season in Manchester consisted of 6 appearances, 4 of them being included in the starting eleven and 2 being substituted on. Although he hasn’t had many minutes playing for the first team the manager thinks highly of him and has previously linked him in comparison to Carrick.
Currently, the midfielder is spending the season long at Watford in the Championship, where he is getting the praise he deserves.
Watford at loan.
The match between Manchester United and Watford in the FA cup is due to occur in early January and many fans were questioning if Garner would be involved in the game. Although, it would have been exciting to see him face his parent club but the rules disallow him from being selected.
The rule quotes: “The football association will not give permission to players on loan to play against the lending club.”
Garner has already won over the Watford fans approval and maintains his place within the squad. During his first start at the Championship side against Newport County, he left a good impression making more passes than any other Watford player. This ensures that Garner remains in the team against Luton which they were victorious in a 1-0 win. Having an influential performance playing 90 minutes, two of the three shots he took were on target and he completed 81 percent of passes which was more than any other Watford midfielder.
One of the Hornets legends ( Tommy Mooney) had been impressed with the United youngsters.
He spoke about Garner and quotes: “He shows real confidence and maturity for such a young lad. He’s had a background at United and they develop good young men as well as young footballers. They are proud of their heritage and you can see he’s one of their graduates.
“He’s exceptionally good at set-pieces. I’ve seen him play a lot for United under-23s and he scores goals from set-pieces, so the fact that he was on set-pieces on his Watford debut suggest the coaching staff have confidence in him and that he’s a confident lad.”
With the remarkable talent that has come through the ranks of the academy such as Ryan Giggs, Christiano Ronaldo, Sir Bobby Charlton and many more, United don’t have to spend millions on superstars as they have some of their own waiting to broadcast their skills.