Preseason Review: The Young Reds on Tour

As Manchester United finished their pre-season tour in the States and then played two games in Europe, against the Norwegian side of Valerenga and in Dublin they took over Sampdoria, Sergio Romero’s former club, we have a look at the Manchester United young players who were called from Jose Mourinho. The likes of Andreas Pereira and Timothy Fosu-Mensah needed to keep their place in the first team, while for others this was their first time. We have Scott McTominay, Demetri Mitchell, Axel Tuanzebe and Joel Pereira who impressed last season with the Reserves (Joel was on loan for the first part of the season). Considering the signings Jose Mourinho has made this summer, there will be little chances for the young lads, but they had everything they could in their hands and now it is up to Mourinho to decide.

In this article we will go through every youngster who had a lot to prove and also keep the trust since being elected from Jose is indeed a huge thing. There are two or three other lads from the Reserves who probably deserved a chance, but they had their chances in Austria. Getting back to the players who performed in the tour, I will try and give an overall opinion regarding their performances, chances they had and of course if there is a chance if the player could push for competition in the near future.

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Andreas Pereira: Manchester United bound, ready more than ever to become a senior

His loan performances were key to success in this pre-season. A holding role in midfield was the perfect recipe to convince Mourinho for Andreas Pereira’s talent and hard work. He has suffered frustration with the previous manager, but now that Mourinho got to know him better, everything has changed, that he can finally have the so much wanted place. It will be hard for him but who knows, he is naturally gifted and he has taken advantage of it so far.

Question time: Did he earn the place?

So he went past Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and kept the ball, he was calm and moved through the middle nicely. Nowadays, you don’t get to see this in a youngster. Yet, the game against Real Madrid isn’t the only that speaks well for him, he’s had a very good tour overall and nothing can keep him away from the first team, we need him. Shining in a deep and holding role shows signs of maturity and this is something Jose Mourinho cannot simply avoid.

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Timothy Fosu-Mensah: Jose has his mind set on him, it’s at right back

His future is at right back no matter how hard we try (somehow) to say that he can be great at a centre midfield role. He only missed the game against Sampdoria, giving Mourinho a lot to think of as he could perfectly be Antonio Valencia’s substitute. We didn’t get to watch much of Fosu-Mensah last season, so this preseason was important for him as well. There are ongoing talks of a possible loan deal yet nothing concrete so far. As per his performances on tour, I would say that Fosu-Mensah has won a sort of stability over the games, as he seemed calmer on clearing the ball and on the other hand his passes and movement on the right was faster and he worked with pass accuracy.

Question: Would it better if he was sent on loan this season?

From my point of view, no. He needs minutes on his feet, but our options on the right are far from being brilliant and the youngster in preseason proved that he has so much to offer and it would be nice to have fresh legs on the team, although we do have Joe Riley who has started on the right a few times in the Reserves’ preseason so there will be competition.

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Joel Pereira: Improvement required if he wants to be United’s no.1 

If things stand as they are he will be United third choice goalkeeper for the new season. Out of every youngster who was called on tour, Joel was a bit unlucky, as he didn’t play many minutes, while he did make a few mistakes that can be corrected with the time. It was indeed expected that the young player would have issues since he only made his full debut back in May and things are always different when on tour. It’s not that he can be blamed for the mistakes, but since it were just his first games, well he can be tolerated, yet needs to learn more from his two fellows who are both great. If the moment comes he can become the first choice some day and the errors against LA Galaxy should be reduced or better yet eliminated. Mourinho seems to like him and this is in his favour. It wasn’t all about errors though, he made some great saves as well. More focus and concentration, it will be key.

Question: Can he some day become United’s no.1?

It all depends on him; since his Reserves days we have watched a hard-working Joel Pereira with some incredible saves, so he is talented. Yet he faces competition, not from just David De Gea but from youngsters, with the likes of Dean Henderson and Kieran O’Hara doing really well. Mourinho is determined to give him the chance, he should take it.

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Axel Tuanzebe: Maturity is the one thing we cannot simply forget when it comes to him

His maturity keeps surprising people and it’s for good. It feels like he could do anything in that heart of the defence and beyond. He had a good second half against LA Galaxy while in the other games he was given fewer minutes than I thought. Probably, because Jose has already seen what he could do and quick decision making will be key to any future team selection. We have an Eric Bailly in him and Mourinho should get through with it. Various experiments were made when he was playing so there can’t a proper evaluation of his game.

Question: Would he survive competition in the first team?

At the moment, absolutely yes, despite the fact Jose is still trying a Chris Smalling – Victor Lindelof partnership for the UEFA Super Cup game. In fewer minutes, Axel Tuanzebe has shown that he is good enough on surviving to tricks and giving a few lectures to his fellow players who have gone missing for a while now.

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Demetri Mitchell: Could he be the answer for our left back problems? Still early to give answer

Out of everyone out there, he is the unluckiest of the academy players who were called for the first team’s tour. He made a full second half against Valerenga and played around 39 minutes against Real Salt Lake. Other than that he played in short minutes, not enough though. As I discuss his performances, there’s a thing about Mitchell; he has been exploring a lot lately and the managers are trying to test him. He is responding really well. On the left-hand side, there isn’t much to be said as he owns the place, but Mourinho tried him in the right. The result? The player himself was a bit anxious as he was in a new role and didn’t feel that he could adapt. That was his only struggle.

Question: Could he be a solution to the left back position ahead of everyone else?

The name of Joe Riley comes into mind again, but Mitchell has in his favour the fact that he was under Mourinho’s watch this summer and he has left a good impression. No reports on promotion so far.

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Scott McTominay: We still haven’t seen how good he actually is 

Simply amazing. Maybe I am exaggerating things a little bit, but considering the way people jumped into ‘he is not good’ bandwagon, I had to point how good he really was. McTominay has been great all summer long and when given a chance he could do really great. In the game against Real Salt Lake, he did okay, while those crosses against Real Madrid were fantastic and was denied to get an assist as Marouane Fellaini couldn’t score in an unbelievable chance. However, things did pay off as he scored his first goal with United against Valerenga. It wasn’t just the goal that stood out, his technique and the time he did it. Great movement, nice way of thinking. He could have easily scored a hat trick with no regrets at all. The things he has been doing on tour may have convinced Mourinho to promote him in the first team.

Question: Has he finally proved his doubters wrong?

I would say yes. After his very first game, ‘football experts’ claimed on Twitter that he is nothing special and Jose Mourinho unfairly favoured him instead of Joshua Harrop. No one dares to say a word now, as all they care is a few minutes of glory, but don’t see the obvious improvement in his style and him adapting back to midfield again. He hasn’t had an easy road and these type of players know what it is to go past hard times. That’s the good thing about them, they never forget their struggles and always tend to reach their goals in the right way.

Written by Fabiola Cejku


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