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What next for Tyler Blackett?

Tyler Blackett was one of the earliest surprises of Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United tenure. Blackett joined the United team for the pre-season when United tried out a new 3-5-2 formation, used by van Gaal in 2014 World Cup. Blackett played well on the left of the three-man defence, and in the final pre-season match against Valencia, Blackett delivered the assist for Marouane Fellaini’s winning goal. With United yet to make any central defensive signings following the departures of United stalwarts Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, Blackett was properly promoted to the first team, starting in the season opener against Swansea City.

Blackett’s status as a first team player was further established, as he went on to complete the full 90 minutes not just in that match, but also in the three league games following it. In the fifth league game of the season against Leicester City, Blackett also made the starting lineup but failed to complete the full 90. With United 4-3 down with less than 10 minutes to go, Blackett brought down Jamie Vardy in the United area, resulting in his sending off and a penalty which was converted by Leonardo Ulloa, sealing Leicester’s win. This would prove to be Blackett’s downfall, as he would go on to start just one more league match that season.

After failing to regain his place in the United first team, Blackett was sent out on loan to Scottish champions Celtic. The move seemed like a good one, a strong team in its league as well as European football, and with Celtic selling star defender Virgil van Dijk in the same window, first team opportunities seemed there for the taking. Blackett’s arrival was greeted with excitement from Celtic’s camp, with then manager Ronny Deila saying of his new signing:

“Quality, that is the most important thing as I have said many times.

“He is a good player, an up and coming young player. He can play centre-back or left-back so we will see.

“He has experience playing for Manchester United. He really wanted to come to Celtic and we wanted him as well so I think he is going to be a good signing.”

However, the loan did not go according to plan. After initially being a part of the first team, Blackett ended his time at Celtic with just eight appearances in all competition, after a series of poor performances. His last appearance was a 13-minute cameo in a Scottish Cup match against Stranraer in January, over two months since his last appearance. Blackett ended up spending the second half of the loan with Celtic’s U20 team.

Meanwhile, as Blackett’s career stagnated, United were bringing through player after player from the reserves to the first team. Players like Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Timothy Fosu-Mensah was promoted to the first team and played in Blackett’s position with much more conviction than he ever had. With United recently announcing the signing of Eric Bailly from Villarreal, Blackett’s chances aren’t looking too good.

Blackett only has one more year on his contract, so he only has one chance of impressing incoming manager Jose Mourinho. It would be difficult for Blackett to break into the first team after such a disappointing loan spell, so his best bet would be another loan spell, possibly to a Championship team. As proven by Jesse Lingard, a Championship loan can still lead to a first team place . But even if he does go out on loan, he would need to really step up his game if he wants to stay at United beyond his current contract. It’s always nice to see a youth player making it to the United team, but if Blackett doesn’t take this chance, which might even not be given, he would need to find another club.

Written by Adimurti Pramana

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