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66 Db The faded United starlet who was released last year has just earned redemption – Man Utd
June 18, 2021

Man Utd

News

The faded United starlet who was released last year has just earned redemption

4 min read

In a week in which both Manchester clubs tasted defeat in major European finals, there was at least one crumb of comfort for the Manchester-based academy coaches by the end of the weekend.

While many United and City fans will have been eager to ignore football on a sun-soaked Sunday, plenty of eyes were diverted to Wembley as a rejuvenated Blackpool side triumphed over Lincoln in the League One play-off final.

United enjoyed two memorable encounters with Blackpool during their sole season in the Premier League a decade ago, the first a stunning late 3-2 comeback win at Bloomfield Road, before a 4-2 win on the final day sealed the visitors relegation back to the Championship.

After a turbulent few years since, victory on Sunday afternoon took the Tangerines back to a level where they think they belong, while a return to the promised land of the Premier League is now also only one good campaign away.

However, it wasn’t the only redemption story on show as a former United hopeful shone again away from the spotlight of Old Trafford.

Three years ago Demetri Mitchell was a player tipped for a possible breakthrough into Jose Mourinho’s first-team amid continued concerns about the long-term future of first-choice left-back Luke Shaw.

The Manchester-born wide man had just been named the club’s U23 player of the year after a fine loan spell with Hearts, but he was never to build upon a solitary senior appearance which came against Crystal Palace on the final day of the season a year previous.

Mitchell had joined United as a 10-year-old after shining at Fletcher Moss Rangers, the same local club which produced Marcus Rashford, coming through the ranks as an exciting left winger before being dropped further back into defence.

He earned praise from Mourinho for his traits as a traditional wide player who looked to regularly take the ball out onto the touchline, starring in pre-season while many key figures were away at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but ultimately injury was to be his undoing at the club.

Two loan spells with Hearts were cut short by injuries which not only stunted his development but knocked his confidence.

A year ago close friend Scott McTominay named Mitchell in the same bracket as Adnan Januzaj and Ravel Morrison as three players who might have become club greats if things had gone their way, clear belief in the faded talents of a once promising star.

“We’ve had Demetri Mitchell who’s been very unfortunate with injuries as well, who’s such a brilliant player and is a good lad as well, who’s got his head screwed on,” McTominay said when discussing youngsters who narrowly missed out on success at United.



Demetri Mitchell went on two Manchester United pre-season tours under Jose Mourinho

“For him to put his injuries behind him and start kicking on now would be amazing, if that’s at Man United or if that’s away from Man United.”

Ultimately that success has come away from United after Mitchell was released by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last summer. Misfortune and bad timing cost the academy graduate 18 months of his career and the chance to impress the Norwegian.

“I was quite surprised myself because I’d never worked with him and he was new to me, anyway,” Mitchell recalled of Solskjaer. “He said like he wants me involved and there’s a future here for me.

“I was just on the cusp of getting back fit and then I came back training and my knee just wasn’t right at the time. I had a little few niggles and stuff. It just wasn’t right for me, so up until then it was still a possibility for me.

“I think it was just bad luck, bad timing. It’s just unlucky me, really.”

Mitchell was still invited back to the club to train over the summer following his release, also training with Sunderland before he finally took his chance while on trial with Blackpool. It’s safe to say he hasn’t looked back since.

“Playing in that game against Palace, going on tour and being on loan, I know that my quality is there,” Mitchell insisted upon his release from United.

“In terms of confidence, whenever I go into a situation now if I’m not getting in somewhere or I’m not playing my best football, I know that I’ve got the ability in myself that I’m good enough.”



Demetri Mitchell celebrates promotion to the Championship

Buoyed by the confidence of regular playing time Mitchell has grown into his new role at Bloomfield Road, playing a key part in both play-off semi-final matches against Oxford, before starring in an unorthodox right wing role in victory over Lincoln on Sunday.

His versatility has won him many plaudits playing under Neil Critchley this season, his reward will be an opportunity to showcase such talents in the Championship next season.

For many players being released by United can be the start of a downward spiral into obscurity, but it is credit to Mitchell that he has used such a platform as the springboard for success.

Had it not been for injury then Mitchell might well have been one of those tasting defeat in Gdansk five days ago, instead he is reaping the rewards for staying so positive when many others would have simply felt sorry for themselves.

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