May 13, 2021

Man Utd

News

Man United’s talent conveyor belt looks to have produced yet another starlet

5 min read

It only took 30 seconds for the dozens of students battling the wind and the rain on top of the grassy hill overlooking the pitch at Loughborough University to see their efforts rewarded with a goal.

And what a cracking one it was, too, with Manchester United’s seemingly never-ending conveyor belt of promising attacking talent shining once again. Anthony Elanga, Shola Shoretire and Hannibal were all in fine form in the Under-23s’ 6-2 victory at Derby County, but it was debutant Omari Forson who stole the show.

The colour commentator on MUTV’s coverage of the game hadn’t even had a chance to introduce himself by the time Elanga fired into the top corner, putting an emphatic finishing touch on a lovely team move that started from kick-off.

Left-back Reece Devine received the ball and switched it to his opposite number. Then Mark Helm played a pass forward in the direction of the 16-year-old Forson, who was drafted into the side in the absence of Amad, perhaps indicating that the Ivorian will be involved in Thursday’s Europa League semi-final second leg against Roma.


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Forson, who arrived from Tottenham’s youth set up in 2019, didn’t at all look like a player making his debut for Neil Wood’s side. He displayed the nous of a player with much more experience with a clever piece of movement that allowed him to take the ball in space from a flick on before driving forward.

He passed the ball on to Hannibal, whose cute back-heel was cut out but Forson, who had followed his pass, was on hand to pick up the pieces and slide in Elanga who did the rest.

Mason Greenwood only became a first-team regular last season and is still just 19-years-old, it’s simply crazy the rate at which United seem to be producing forwards who appear to have very promising careers ahead of them.

Sadly, with the second leakiest defence in the Premier League 2 division 1 this season, the players at the back haven’t been shining quite as brightly and it was more of the same on Monday night.

Just four minutes after taking the lead Derby had drawn level. Skipper Will Fish failed to adequately clear the danger which allowed Olamide Ibrahim to take advantage and rifle into the far corner with style.

The match then settled down for a lengthy period, with neither side managing to create any clear cut chances, before it burst into life once more upon the half hour mark. Again it was a mistake from the United back-line that led to the Rams taking the lead. First Max Taylor didn’t extinguish the danger when he had the chance, and then Devine lost the ball in the corner. It was worked to Cameron Cresswell on the edge of the box, who bent a fantastic shot into the top left corner.

The powerful gales that engulfed the players couldn’t be more fitting for the whirlwind of a half that was unfolding, as this time it was United who pulled level just moments after going behind.

McCann miss-hit Helm’s pull-back but was fortunate enough for the ball to land in the stride of Ethan Galbraith, whose powerful shot flew into the goal from 20 yards.

United’s free-scoring youngsters then grabbed yet another wonderful goal, this time with a picture perfect counter attack involving all of their highly-rated attackers.

A free-kick into the United box was cleared to Hannibal who brought the ball down on his knee and then showed excellent skill to manoeuvre past a challenge. The Frenchman moved the ball on to Forson, who set Elanga away with a perfectly timed ball. Elanga made a mockery of a centre-back with a cool dummy, but saw his shot well saved. Thankfully, Shola Shoretire was on hand to tap in the rebound.

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The fun didn’t stop there, either, as on the edge of half-time a sixth goal was scored and it was Forson who deservedly got it. With gaps opening in the Derby defence Shoretire – himself still just 17, and playing with the air of a senior member of the side – exploited them with a lovely dinked pass to Forson, who ghosted through the defence before firing low through the goalkeeper’s legs.

Those hardy souls braving the elements to be able to watch some live football had well and truly been rewarded.

The second-half didn’t start quite as frantically despite United’s best efforts to add to their tally. Hannibal twice and Shoretire all had decent efforts and Alvaro Fernandez should have been awarded a penalty when he was taken out by a poor tackle in the area. Galbraith was also lost to injury after over stretching to make a clearance.

United were in utter control, though, with Derby unable to even get out of their own half let alone have a shot, but we were forced to wait a whole 26 minutes before the ball was eventually in the back of the net again. Elanga, full of confidence and tricks, was the man who got it.

A short corner routine was excellently worked as Elanga played a nice one-two with Forson before then dribbling past a flurry of white shirts and smashing the ball home. Moments later and the hapless Derby goalkeeper was again picking up the ball, this time after Shoretire tapped home is second following Elanga’s pass into the box.

Forson was replaced following the sixth goal for yet another debutant, this time Zidane Iqbal being introduced fresh after signing his first professional deal with the club. He was unable to mark his own first game at Under-23 level with a goal but his appearance further proves just how much talent is being produced at the club.

The victory in their penultimate match of the season has seen United climb into the top five in the table as they end their first season back in the top division strongly, but the game will instead be remembered for the emergence of yet another promising starlet with a goal, two assists and an excellent performance.

Shoretire, Hannibal, Elanga are all positioned as United’s ‘next big things’ but Omari Forson has just added himself to the list.

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