Callum Gribbin, born on the 18th December 1998 and raised in Salford is an up and coming players within Manchester United’s Academy, currently eligible to play in the U23 squad, but injury has kept him out of action recently. Gribbin played in the Otten Cup in the Netherlands earlier in August, with United reaching the final and losing to Anderlecht on penalties. Gribbin scored twice in the pre-season competition and made some good performances too, which bodes well for the future. Manchester United describe Gribbin as “A playmaker with a real desire to get on the ball and dictate matters”. Gribbin played in an U13 match at the Amsterdam Arena ahead of former United and Ajax goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar’s testimonial, scoring twice in the match and announcing himself to the world of football, being hyped up since then. Gribbin has the ability and drives to succeed, and perhaps he will make headway this season after ending the last on the sidelines through injury.
During the Otten Cup, where United beat Barcelona 2-1, Gribbin was likened to United legend Ryan Giggs based on his silky run, agility, and neat footwork before scoring against the young Spanish side. The 18-year-old has been tipped to rise through the ranks like Marcus Rashford, but will need to adjust himself to the game before that happens. Gribbin will have spent two seasons in the U18 squad, making 25 appearances, scoring five goals and assisting a further five goals in the 2014/15 season, also making six appearances for Nicky Butt’s U19 squad in the UEFA Youth League, scoring one goals and assisting a further goal, then making 26 appearances, scoring five goals and assisting in a further four in the 2015/16 season. This season, Gribbin has made one appearance for Warren Joyce’s U23 squad, a substitute appearance, but injury has kept him out of the side since, with some hoping that he will be fit after the international break.
Gribbin is a good talent and one whose talent has been noticed by his coaches, fellow players, and the clubs supporters. Many would like to see him achieve, with some thinking that he is ready for the first team. With all due respect, he has made three appearances over the last three seasons for the U21/U23’s, which is great, but in order to make the first team, the player would need to be special, better than any other player who plays in similar positions, or would be promoted due to injury, which was how Rashford got there, took his chance and the rest is history. Gribbin will succeed, but in order to better himself, I feel he needs to break into the U23 side this season, providing injury is not something that keeps him out of action for a long period of time. From there, is Jose Mourinho is willing to give him a chance, and it was taken, the world would be his oyster.
Gribbin’s former youth coach, Kenny Swain coached the player at U16 and U17 level rates him well and sees something special in him. Speaking to Bleacher Report back in November last year, he said:
“I heard about Gribbs through our scouting network and everyone would say, ‘You have to see this lad, he is similar to this player, or that player’. Then I’d go and look at him, then within five minutes, you can see that this boy is something special. He can take it under pressure anywhere. The best players tempt the opposition into the challenge, and it is all about the timing of release, which Gribbs has to a T, way beyond his years. Not many kids can deal with him or want to deal with him. He just sends them the wrong way and makes them look foolish. He leaves me breathless.”
Straight from his former coach, it is said Gribbin can take the pressure, which is always a good sign. In Warren Joyce’s U23’s side this season, there are a lot of problems to solve. One of them being the lack of a striker or a player who could fill that void. It is suggested that United are looking into solving that by bringing a player in before the closure of the transfer window on Wednesday evening. Gribbin may not be the player that could fill the void as a striker, but he could be one of the players behind. United have much talent at that level with James Weir, Josh Harrop, Tosin Kehinde, Matty Willock and Scott McTominay to name a few. Gribbin would add something different to the U23’s, something Joyce may be wanting to add after the international break, providing the player is fit, of course.
The 17-year-old has a mass of potential and securing himself into Joyce’s side this season, aiming for a starting role and keeping that will see him go a long way into showing that he is the right player to be given chances at the club. I am not saying he will reach the first team this season, or next, but he has the potential to do so. It might be a long waiting game for Gribbin, but if he is as good as many say he is and sees himself playing for Manchester United and no other team, perhaps he will be a player to watch in the famous red shirt in the years to come. Gribbin only turns 18 in December, which is the age Rashford achieved his dream to play for Manchester United, and that was something that was great to see. They say lightning does not strike twice, but with Gribbin, providing he develops as he should, could prove that lightning does indeed strike twice.