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U23 Player Ratings – 2018/19 Season: Ercolani, O’Connor, Gomes and Chong the stars of the season at this level

Manchester United U23’s saw their season end back in April and it would be safe to say it was not the season they expected. After being relegated from the Premier League 2 Division One at the end of the 2017/18 season, it was expected that the squad would achieve promotion back to the top flight of the league but United finished sixth, much like the first team and endured a season which will not be reflected upon favourably.

At this level, the team only competed in the league and the Premier League International Cup, of which they reached the quarter-final stage after drawing against both Derby County (1-1) and PSV Eindhoven (0-0) but beating Paris Saint-Germain 3-0. They then faced Reading at the quarter-final stage, losing 3-1, therefore ending their run in the tournament, which was won by Bayern Munich.

It would be safe to say that next season, with a new influx of players coming up from the U18s and a new approach, it will be important that this side starts to show their footballing ability, earning a place back into the top flight of this league and possibly even working towards winning the Premier League Internationa Cup, however, that seems to be easier said than done.

Here are the player ratings for the entire 2018/19 season for each player to have represented United at least once in any of the competitions the club has played in; Premier League 2 and the Premier League International Cup. All ratings are out of ten stars; five being the level all players start out at during each game. If the player rates over five stars, they are doing well, less than five, they are not doing so well.

Paul Woolston: The oldest goalkeeper at this level at the age of 20, the Englishman played only three matches this season but only joined the club in November 2018 after being released by Newcastle United last summer. He made his debut for the club in January, keeping three clean sheets for his club. He could have the ability to prove himself at this level, be tested on loan next season or even work his way into the first team in the future. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Alex Fojticek: The 19-year-old Slovakian made just three appearances at this level during the season, still playing at U18 and U19 level. He conceded three goals, keeping one clean sheet for the U23s, only making his debut at this level back in January. Granted, he may have a way to go to feature more at this level but he is a talented goalkeeper who is willing to learn his trade. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Matej Kovar: The 18-year-old goalkeeper form the Czech Republic played the most matches out of all the goalkeepers at this level, making a total of 19 appearances at this level, also playing six times at U19 level. Of the 19 appearances at this level, Kovar kept a total of five clean sheets, conceding 26 goals. The first team might be a big step for him, considering the players he will be competing against so a loan spell could help his case. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Matthew Olosunde: The American U20 international has played for United during the course of four seasons now, making his way from U18 level into a mainstay at U23 level. This season, the 21-year-old was largely absent due to injury, making only five appearances at this level, which was a shame. He is a talented defender and can play at right-back and as a central defender. It could be a make or break summer for him. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tyrell Warren: The 20-year-old player is a bit or a utilitarian as he can play in a number of positions, including right-back, central defence and as a right winger. Warren made nine appearances for the U23s this season, not scoring or assisting a single goal. He was on trial at Bolton Wanderers in February and despite being praised by Jose Mourinho in 2016, it seems that this could well be the end of the road for him at United. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Max Taylor: The 19-year-old defender, formally known as Max Dunne, has been suffering from cancer and undergoing chemotherapy, which has kept him out of action this season. Back in February, United confirmed that the player had responded successfully to treatment and hopes to resume his playing career once more if he is able. As he has not played this season, it would be unfair to give him a rating but I decided to include him anyway, if only to update people who did not know.

Luca Ercolani: The 19-year-old Italian central defender has played 16 times this season; six times for the U19 and ten times for the U23s. I have high hope for this player as he seems to be able to defend superbly, at times. However, there has been some interest in the player from a host of Serie A clubs and the last thing reported was that United planned to give the lad a new contract. I do hope that happens. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Lee O’Connor: The 18-year-old Irish fullback-cum-midfielder is another talent in this squad. He has been on the cusp of the first team, training with them recently amid rumours that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would include many youth players in the final match of the season, which did not happen. O’Connor made a total of 25 appearances at U23 level, also playing seven times at U19 level, getting one assist for the U23s. He is a great talent and should not be overlooked by this club. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

George Tanner: The 19-year-old midfielder, who can also play at right-back, made 21 appearances at U23 level this season, adding a further three at U19 level. He assisted twice, not scoring a single goal so far at this level – in his fourth season at the club. Tanner was sent off against Sunderland in October but later had that card rescinded. Tanner signed his first professional contract in January 2018 and should be retained for the upcoming season, which could see him on the radar of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and play a part in the rebuild of the club, which will take a number of seasons to complete and stabilise. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

DJ Buffonge: The 20-year-old midfielder played 12 times for the U23s this season, scoring three goals. This was his third season playing in the U23s, although during the 2016/17 season, he was still playing at U18 level also. At stages this season, Buffonge has been training with the first team but has not made many waves at that level. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Callum Gribbin: The 20-year-old midfielder will probably not play for this club again, which is a shame. After a period of injuries, it has left him behind many young talents in the academy. Gribbin was a technically gifted player and represented the U23s twice from the bench this season. He will probably go on to have a career elsewhere and I wish him all the best. This happens many times at this club, sometimes it just does not work out. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Aidan Barlow: The 19-year-old midfielder has played 23 times this season; six times for the U19s, scoring three goals and one assist and 17 times for the U23, scoring once and assisting once. The player has represented United at U18, U19 and U23 level over the past five years and is considered to be one of the talents in the squad. He may have a lot of work ahead of him to break into the first team but that may not be beyond him. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Angel Gomes: This was his fifth season at academy level and perhaps needs to be challenged either in the first team or with a loan spell in order for him not to stagnate. The 18-year-old made 17 appearances at this level, scoring six goals and assisting a further eight. He got minimal chances in the first team and currently, according to rumour, is not happy at the club. Should emerge within the first team this summer by may need to make some changes to his physique, which will take time. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Joshua Bohui: The 20-year-old English winger made a total of 29 appearances in the U19s and U23s this season, making 25 appearances at this level. Bohui scored four goals, assisting a further five, also scoring twice in the UEFA Youth League. The player was included in the pre-season tour last summer and could find himself included against this summer. It is possible that he could even feature in the UEFA Europa League if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer chooses to include him in the squad. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tahith Chong: The 19-year-old Dutch international has played at U19, U23 and first team level this season, playing most of his football in the U23s. Chong made a total of 18 appearances in the U23s, scoring eight goals, assisting a further four. At U19 level, he played six times, scoring twice and assisting three more. He also made three first team appearances, from the bench, showing his ability in a declining first team squad who now have a lot to prove. The future could well be his. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Millen Baars: The 19-year-old Dutch winger only made three appearances at U23 level this season all from the bench. He scored just one goal. He arrived at United back in 2016 but was unable to play any matches that season because his international clearance had not gone through. The 2017/18 season was the first he was able to play in. Injuries have not goe in his favour and it is likely that he may be able to leave this summer to try and rebuild his career, which is a shame. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Nishan Burkart: The 19-year-old has spent three seasons at United now and has moved from the U18/U19 level into a mainstay in the U23 squad, which is a great challenge for him. This season, the Swiss forward made 15 appearances, scoring six goals and assisting a further four more. It may be a big step to reach the first team but looking at the problems there, it could also be the best time to get Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to notice him if that is the level he wants to reach. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The likes of Mason Greenwood, Diogo Dalot, Andreas Pereira, Sergio Romero, Marcos Rojo, Di-Shon Bernard and more also played at this level during the course of the season but these players had already been rated at first team or U18 level, which included excerpts about their appearances at this level, so I did not include them here. There were also players who spent much of or part of the season on loan, they will be rated in a separate article.

This coming season will be important for this age group, some of which will find themselves in the first team, others may be loaned out of even leave the club completely. However, with talent always coming up through the ranks, these players will be replaced and they will earn the opportunity to propel their careers in the right directions, should that be what they endeavour.

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