Having signed a two-year contract in 2015 as part of Louis van Gaal’s campaign of promoting young local players and also playing regularly for the U21s, Joshua Harrop has caught the eye of United fans with his great performances with the Reserves.
In just a few days Josh will turn 21 years old and he is hoping to make the grade at Manchester United something he really wishes as he has been part of the club since the age of seven. Making an impressive progress with the U18s in the 2013/2014 scoring six goals in 24 starts for the academy side, he won himself a place in Nicky Butt’s U19’s side for the UEFA Youth League making his debut on that 4-3 United win against Leverkusen in the group stages. The youngster made 6 appearances total in the competition, starting three times and three others coming on as a substitute. Josh didn’t score but was quite impressive and had to adapt in a whole new position for him but he surely did well as the season came to an end. When asked about it, here’s what he had to say:
“I played wide left in the UEFA Youth League last season [2013-2014] and had to adjust because it was not a position I was used to playing. I had got used to it by the end of the season with the Under-21s though. I can adjust to quite a few positions. I’ve played right-back, centre-midfield, off the striker and a no.10. It helps to improve your game.”
Dragging the attention of Warren Joyce, he was part of the Reserves as well that season, showing that he was going to make the break really fast in the U21s. It was Paul McGuinness that showed faith that Harrop would soon become a regular player for the Reserves and he was right, as Josh spent only one season with the U18s and later was involved with the older ones.
However, Josh attracted a lot of fans around him back in 2012 in the FA Youth Cup against Swansea City with that fine performance, even though he was 16 years old at the time. Getting involved with the older group age for the first time was pleasant for the talented lad. In the following seasons, Josh surely was quite important for the Reserves scoring 4 goals in eleven starts and in the 2015-2016 season the youngster registered two assists in 14 starts but didn’t manage to score but was unlucky as he got injured cutting his progression and development in the middle. Josh won his first trophy with United in 2014, helping the team to win the Manchester Senior Cup with a fine performance and the player was really happy as his hard work finally started to pay off with an incredible achievement.
Seeing his teammates getting a chance in the first team was inspiring for him that he will have that chance as well saying to MUTV:
“A few of the lads have been involved in it this season and that’s my aim. That’s what I’m here for. I want to train hard and get a chance. Cameron [Borthwick-Jackson] came on for 20 minutes recently and that’s the aim for any young lad at United.”
Despite not getting the chance to feature, Josh has been involved in the past in the first team’s Champions League training sessions, something that he really enjoyed:
“I feel like I’m getting to the stage now where I’m getting older and progressing. “I just need to keep working hard, day in and day out, in training and do my best. We’ll see what happens but, hopefully, I’ll get my chance in the first team. I’ve been training before a few of the Champions League games and been in and out when we’ve needed players coming over. It’s great getting asked and good experience to be with the first team. It’s nice to get involved and for the manager to see you. A few of the first-team players I speak to and get along with always help you settle in.”
Leaving the injuries behind, Josh is now fully focused on taking his chances for the reserves. Getting used to a title-winning team, he is now part of the side that needs a rebuild as a lot of his teammates have been sold or are currently on loan seeking for more minutes. Josh is one of those players that anyone would love to have around in the team. Comfortable with the ball, reading the opposition’s game and high discipline are his biggest qualities, of course, more work is needed by the youngster especially in terms of consistency.
During preseason games, Harrop pulled a lovely performance against Salford City in front of the Class of ’92, a game that was won 5-1 by the United youngsters. Scoring two beautiful goals surely gave hope that in the new season, Josh would become the new the leader to the team that defended their title last season. Changing the format from a U21’s to a U23’s league means that he is still eligible to play for two more years for the Reserves but he will for sure look for more.
This might be the season for him, as the Reserves are still in search for their main man after the departures that happened this summer. There’s a fear that due to the struggles of the U23’s, some players like Harrop that have been waiting for a first team chance might actually miss it due to the lack of results. He has scored five goals and has managed to get two assists this season, being one of the most important players in the squad. McTominay might be the chosen one to play as a false ‘9’ in absence of a natural clinical striker, but it’s Harrop that is performing well this season. Harrop discussed this with MUTV before the start of the game against Chelsea on Friday night:
“It’s a young team compared to last season, everyone is getting used to each other.
“It’s always good to get goals and assists. I was in and out of the side last season, but I’m now getting in to the habit of trying to get a goal or assist in each game.
“I’ve played in a lot of different positions, but this is a little different [playing without a striker]. You have to get used to finding different ways of getting the ball forward.”
He needs a decent partner and in the game against Reading, Callum Gribbin seemed to fit perfectly with him and their lovely combinations were enjoyable for United fans. He was unlucky to score a hat trick in that game but a decent performance was more than enough to show us that the player can actually make it. It’s up to him to impress both Nicky Butt and Jose Mourinho in the following year so he can get minutes in the first team. So far there have been no discussions that he may be sent out on loan in January but it will be hard to lose another Reserves key player leave when quality is needed in the team. On the other hand, this could be the best for the player as he can get more minutes and win valuable experience to come back stronger. Whatever happens, I really hope that the player makes and follows Lingard and Rashford as a first team regular.