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Where Are They Now? Joshua King, the guy who helped relegate Sunderland…

Joshua King signed for Manchester United when he was 16 in January 2008, coming from Norwegian side Vålerenga. The Norwegian forward trained with United on various occasions before signing for the club, but UEFA rules prevented anything from being sealed before his 16th birthday. King played in the U18 squad after he was signed, making his debut in a 5-1 defeat at home to Sunderland back in March 2008. King had trial offers from Chelsea, Sunderland, and Ipswich Town but Manchester United was the team he wanted and signed for. King made one more appearance for the U18’s that season, also participating in the Blue Stars Youth Cup in May 2008. In the summer, King was part of the U17 United side which lifted the Northern Ireland Milk Cup, a prestigious tournament United have played in for years, missing the last two though, but they will be back in the tournament this summer.

The following season, King made two appearances in the Premier Academy League, suffering an injury in October 2008, which kept him out of action until the following January, which was going to become something the player would need to get used to. King made his return from injury, playing twice before United took on Bolton Wanderers in the Academy league where King scored twice in a 5-0 victory, he was then named in the squad in the Manchester Senior Cup, an unused substitute, before playing with United’s reserves, now the U23’s, where he replaced Robbie Brady against Bolton. On the 14th February 2009, King made his first start for the U18’s against Manchester City, then missing the following two months through injury. At the start of April 2009, King made his return from injury, seemingly trying to ensure United pushed for a strong finish, ending up in second-place to City – some 19 points behind their cross-city rivals.

During the 2009/10 season, King played more reserve league football, making the step up from the U18 league. He was rewarded with a place on the bench in a third round League Cup match against Wolverhampton Wanderers, given the number 41 shirt and in the 81st minute of the match, Long made his first team debut, replacing Danny Welbeck. King had two chances to add to United’s lead, which finished with United earning a fourth round place in the competition, which was against Barnsley. King made the squad for that match but did not make it onto the pitch. The Norwegian forward played the remainder of the season in the U18’s, scoring six times in 14 appearances, which is a pretty good achievement. United won group C in the Premier Academy League that season, being drawn against Arsenal, but United lost 5-3 on penalties, King scoring his.

Loan spells away from Manchester United

King was loaned to Championship side Preston North End for the first three months of the 2010/11, with a chance his loan spell could be extended. Sir Alex Ferguson’s son, Darren Ferguson was the manager of the club at the time. King linked up with fellow Academy player Matty James and became the club’s 1,000th player. King made his debut in a defeat to Doncaster Rovers. King scored his first goal in the League Cup that season, scoring the last goal in the 5-0 victory over Stockport Country, also getting an assist which included a 60-yard run down the right-wing. King was starting to shine but an injury would soon rule him out for the rest of the loan period, only to be loaned back to Preston the following January after the transfer window had opened again. During his time at Preston, King made 10 appearances, scoring one goal.

King was loaned to Bundesliga side Borussia Mönchengladbach during the 2011/12 season, which was confirmed on the 22nd July 2011 but delayed due to the player suffering a groin injury during international duty. The loan transfer was then concluded in August with the player moving to Germany. King’s spell in the Bundesliga was terminated early due to a recurrence of that groin injury, heading back to United after making only two appearances, failing to score a single goal. King moved to Hull City in January 2012 for the remainder of the season making his debut in a 1-0 away victory over Reading. During the loan spell, King still played for United’s reserves, something perfectly fine when on loan, as long as the player does not play for the first team of his parent club. King returned to United on the 1st May, playing in the reserve league once again, which was where he started the following season.

King, playing in the reserve league once again did not make the cut for the first team and was allowed to join Blackburn Rovers on loan for the first half of the 2012/13 season, Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season as manager at the club. King made eight appearances whilst on loan, scoring two goals. His loan spell was made permanent the following January, signing a two-and-a-half-year contract with the Lancashire club. King’s time at United was over, which was unfortunate as he was a decent player, but not good enough to make it through the liked of Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez and Robin van Persie, which was a lot of talent to break through.

Career after Manchester United

Joshua King signed for Blackburn Rovers, a club where he had already played eight times, scoring twice – making a further 12 appearances that season, not scoring any more goals. Playing at Blackburn for a further two seasons, King made a total of 74 appearances, scoring eight goals in total. In May 2015, King turned down a new contract with Blackburn, switching to Premier League new boys AFC Bournemouth. King made his Premier League debut on the 8th August 2015, a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa. The Norwegian scored his first Premier League goal in a 2-2 draw against Swansea City on the 21st November 2015, something that will have inspired him to find many more goals in the future – something he has done for his club. King saw his side beat his former club, United on the 12th December that year, scoring the winning goal, which came from a corner in the 2-1 victory. King finished that season as the club’s top scorer with seven goals, not bad for a player who has fought his way to the top, now playing in the top flight.

At the start of the 2016/17 season, King and Bournemouth were still in the Premier League. King played 36 out of the 28 matches during the season, scoring 16 goals, which is a big increase from his first season at United. Bournemouth were safely into their third Premier League season. King has come a long way, probably not a player United regret losing, the player will not regret his time at the club either, it was a good starting point, one which helped him define his career in football. Probably the best goal King scored in the 2016/17 season was the one which confirmed Sunderland had been relegated, scored in the 88th minute of the match, with the Black Cats likely to live another day with a draw. After seeing the Sunderland supporters doing the Poznan on the final day of the season when Manchester City won the Premier League on goal difference with Sergio Aguero scoring a late goal, the confirmation of relegation could not have made me happier. King celebrated his then 15th goal of the season, scoring on the final day against Burnley, the winner after Sam Vokes equalised in the 83rd minute of the match, King striking two minutes later.

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