Amad heard the whistle but barely moved. When he received it, he darted inside, found Shola Shoretire and had left his marker to find Joe Hugill.
Two games, three goals and three assists. Shoretire, another precocious talent United were thrilled to sign up on a professional contract, had a straightforward finish from Amad’s square pass to equalise. Shoretire claimed a hat-trick and Amad a hat-trick of assists.
“The goals are coming from the left f—–g side,” bemoaned Blackburn goalkeeper Jordan Eastham after United levelled for 4-4. So did the fifth: Amad to Shoretire. Then Amad got in on the act.
At the time United announced his £37million signing on October 5, Amad must have hoped some academy anoraks would be present for his home club debut and, in time, he will bring the Old Trafford denizens to their feet. Few clubs have more ardent love affairs with wingers than Manchester United and Amad gets chalk on his boots before cleaning them with the dew of the turf.
United’s latest unveiling is unlikely to have many more Friday nights in Leigh. The 18-year-old was ferried to the stadium separately, as Amad has been training in the first-team bubble and popping it would have denied him re-entry for 10 days.
The bubble protocol prevented any first-team staff from being present but the first-team head of development Nicky Butt and Mark Dempsey, previously on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first-team staff, were in attendance to file eyewitness reports on Amad’s 90 minutes.
This newspaper revealed United’s interest in Amad Traore, he was unveiled as Amad Diallo and now he is known simply as Amad. United’s ’10’ and ’11’ on the teamsheet as Hannibal and Amad and, in the latter’s case at least, the request is certainly not a branding exercise.
Linking up with Harvey Neville, son of Phil, Amad communicated with his collaborator by simple sign language, beckoning Neville forward. “Play” seemed to be the only instruction aired to the Ivory Coast-born winger in English and his presence buoyed Neville, creator for Hugill’s header.
Amad’s touch and movement, honed in Atalanta’s esteemed academy, often came in one motion and his former teammate in Bergamo, Dejan Kulusevski, has quickly established himself at Juventus.
United fielded a teenage quartet of Amad, Shoretire, Hugill and Hannibal Mejbri yet threatened to be outscored by the Premier League 2’s surprise package. Blackburn last boasted Premier League status at senior level in 2012 but their second string rose to the summit at one stage of the evening, aided by United fielding auxiliary centre halves Reece Devine and Ethan Galbraith, a full-back and midfielder by trade.
Mejbri scored classily and continues to be a target of budding hatchet men, his impetuousness narking opponents. Referees continue to take a dim view of some of the French 17-year-old’s histrionics but need to clamp down more on the spiteful fouling. Mejbri, a €10million signing from Monaco 18 months ago, can expect a loan in the summer or promotion to the first-team squad. So too could Hugill, on target again for his 15th goal for the Under-18s and U23s.
Dylan Levitt was on loan but recalled from League One Charlton last month and United were unable to relocate him. The 20-year-old unwittingly assisted Connor McBride’s opener with a needlessly risky pass across the area and the Wales international is going to struggle to raise his morale ahead of the European Championship.
Amad ought to have joined him on the scoresheet on the hour but his powerful shot was repelled by Eastham. Sometimes he appeared to play within himself at a level beneath himself but, supporters will soon notice, the statuesque starting position is part of the gambit.
If the awareness Amad showed for two of the assists was unremarkable, his inswinger for Shoretire’s second was another string to his bow. As was the willingness to cynically foul Zak Gilsenan to halt a breakaway. Politely, Amad apologised to the Blackburn number 11.
Seconds before he scored, Amad was motionless again, with the ball, inside the Blackburn ‘d’, toying with them. He barely moved. Then he scored.