Where Are They Now? Former Manchester United reserves captain, Tom Thorpe

When the former Manchester United reserve team captain made his first-team debut in 2014, it appeared he would be given the chance to establish himself as a permanent fixture in the squad with a look to potentially becoming a first-choice for the future. However, he is now applying his trade for Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) in the Indian Super League, which is some drop from the heights of the Premier League. What went wrong for the now 25-year old?

After a couple of full seasons with the Under-18s and some experience with the Under-21s, Thorpe established himself as more of a regular fixture for the latter in the 2011-12 season. This earned him a place on the bench against Leeds United for the first-team in the League Cup. Although he largely played in midfield during that campaign, the following season saw him revert back to the more familiar position at the heart of the defence as he captained the side to the Under-21 Premier League title.

He carried on his form into the following season and was taken on loan by Birmingham City during the 2014 January transfer window. By this time Thorpe was 21 and at potentially the pivotal point of his career, but sadly suffered ligament damage very quickly into his debut. This must have been highly frustrating for the youngster who’d finally been given the opportunity to showcase his talents.

He was to get a small cameo the following season for the first-team, as he replaced Angel Di Maria at the end of the Premier League fixture against West Ham. Many fans who’d followed Thorpe’s rise through the ranks felt this meant he may finally get the chance he deserved. However, the man who represented England at every level from Under-16 to Under-21s would not get another opportunity with United despite Louis van Gaal blooding through plenty of youth that season.

Thorpe was released and very quickly got picked up by then, Championship side Rotherham United. In a two-year spell at the club, he made just 10 appearances, excluding the 4 other games he played in whilst on loan at Bradford City. Evidently, these were not the kind of stats Thorpe had envisioned when he made his first-team United debut two seasons earlier. At 23, his career appeared to be in free fall.

He went out on loan once more in the 2016 Summer transfer window, this time to Bolton Wanderers. He had a far more positive season there, being deployed in midfield again at times, making 25 appearances during the 2016/17 season. He returned to Rotherham, albeit briefly, as he was signed by Indian Super League side ATK. There he joined up with former United man Teddy Sheringham, who was in charge.

Thorpe also joined the likes of Ryan Taylor, Jussi Jaaskelainen, and Robbie Keane in a league which is getting increasing amounts of coverage and quality. Although Sheringham was relieved of his duties only 10 games in, Thorpe remains a regular starter for ATK.

Thorpe’s decline having previously been the reserves captain shows just how cruel a game football can be.

Written by Rob Potter

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