May 14, 2021

Man Utd


Three Man Utd youngsters get reality check after Europa League outings

3 min read

Bump back down to earth

What a difference 24 hours makes.

After Will Fish, Shola Shoretire and Anthony Elanga were warming down at Old Trafford, having sat on the bench for the Europa League quarter final win over Granada on Thursday, they might not have expected to be brought back down to earth so quickly.

Yet 24 hours later, they were under pressure from the first minute in United’s U23 defeat to rivals Man City. Fish had to make a huge last ditch challenge to deny Liam Delap infront of goal, while Shoretire and Elanga were being pegged back in their own half for much of the game. It was an experience that reminds them they will not have it easy on their way to the United first team, and have to fight every time a new challenge presents itself.

They’ll have definitely learned plenty from this week, though.

Fletcher watches on

Newly appointed Technical Director Darren Fletcher was in the stands at the Academy Stadium, watching intently at how United reacted to being without possession for large parts of the game. At one point, he shouted ‘more direct, quicker’, to Anthony Elanga. The whole team seemed to hear, but it wasn’t long before City regained the upper hand.

Fletcher was deep in conversation in the second half, and will know this experience could be a useful one for this young United side. Their futures won’t be defined by one derby defeat, although the United staff will be looking to see which players respond from such a one-sided game.

Hannibal needs help

City did a job on Hannibal Mejbri and Shola Shoretire, limiting their ability to threaten in the final third. When the duo did look to bring the ball forward, though, a strong challenge wasn’t too far away. It’s becoming a theme with Hannibal, who must be used to rough treatment from opponents everytime he crosses the white line.

Hannibal Mejbri was targeted by the City defence.

More often than not, he will skip away and create a chance, but on the occasions when he is fouled, he needs support from the officials to prevent it from happening. When City defender Callum Doyle caught him high and late near the halfway line as United broke, everyone on the pitch expected a booking to be produced. But Doyle received just a talking to, so the fouls kept coming on the United winger. He needs more support from officials before one of the challenges does real damage.

Better days ahead

This was clearly an off-night for United, who couldn’t respond to City’s possession and pressing. It was a far cry from the 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture, where United gave a much better account of themselves. If they can channel this disappointment into a positive reaction, then maybe a performance like this can benefit them.

As much as it will pain these youngsters, they will look at title-bound City as the level they need to reach. It’s been a solid return to the top division of youth football this season, now they will look to end the campaign strongly, bounce back from this defeat, and make sure they’re in a better position to exact revenge the next time they face City.

With the talented players at their disposal, you sense that’s only a matter of time.

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