James Garner will have been watched by many Manchester United supporters over the years based on what he has been doing at U18 and U23 level for the club. During his time at United, prior to his loan spell with Championship club Watford, which commenced at the start of the season, Garner has made 36 appearances, scoring four goals and five assists at U18 level, 13 appearances, scoring one goal and two assists at U19 level and 26 appearances, scoring nine goals and four assist at U23 level. Garner has also made seven appearances for the first team but has not scored or assisted any goals. It is well known that the future of the midfielder at United is positive and he is highly rated amongst the coaches and his peers.
Garner made 21 appearances at Watford, 20 in the Championship and one appearance in the Carabao Cup. He did not score a single goal but got an assist against Coventry City on the 7 November 2020. Garner, now 20, played a total of 1,219 minutes of football at Watford but during January 2021, he was playing a bit part role at the club and needed a bigger challenge. His loan spell was terminated and he was loaned to Nottingham Forest, who were also playing in the Championship. It was suggested that he would have a better challenge and would play more football. They were right. He made a total of 20 appearances for the club in the Championship, scoring four goals, no assists and playing 1,700 minutes of football.
An heir to Paul Scholes?
Garner has been known to score some great goals based on his time at United and that was not that much different at Forest. The club finished 17th in the Championship this season, amassing 52 points in total, finishing above rivals Derby County, manager by Wayne Rooney, who avoided relegation on the final day of the season. Garner’s last goal for the club came against Preston North End, which was their final match of the season, in which they lost 2-1. It was a stunning finish, as you can see in Forest’s highlights from the match (above). It has been rumoured that Garner could be loaned out again by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer next season with suggestions of the player going out to a Premier League side towards the bottom of the table.
I feel this would be good for him and give him the experience of playing in the league at a greater scale that he already has at United. I am sure his performances for Forest will not have gone unnoticed this season and there could be a few clubs in with a chance of signing him for the 2021/22 season. United would need to ensure he’s not a player that will be left on the bench and will play a competitive number of matches, as otherwise there would be no point in loaning him out if he’s going to be a player that may only be used to cover injuries or something similar. Garner is a class act and has proven that in the Championship. I would like to see him eventually play for United as a first team player as he excites me in the way Paul Scholes did.
The future looks bright for James Garner…
Many United supporters would have had high hopes for Garner when he was loaned to Watford at the start ion the 2020/21 season but it did not work out for him there. Moving to Forest in January 2021 was a much better move for him as he eased himself into the squad and performed well for the club, scoring four goals during the course of the second half of the season. He has come a long way and perhaps needs another season on loan with a lower level Premier League club to get him more first team experience in the top flight of English football. Garner is clearly the future for United and has all the ingredients in order to get there. After his loan spell at Forest, Garner spoke to the official Manchester United website, talking about making the first team, saying:
“I’ve been working hard, physically and mentally, and it’s something I’m trying to add into my game. Hopefully, when I come back at the end of the season, I’ll sit down with the coaches and see what’s best for me and what’s going to be best for my development. I’ll take it from there really.
“I think that’s ultimately the dream [playing for the first team]. I’ve been at the club since seven or eight and the main focus is to be in the first team and do whatever takes to be with the first team.
“Like I’ve said, I’ll just keep working hard, keep my head down and have to see what is going to be best for my development. But, ultimately, my dream is to be with the first team and play for United.”
Written by Dave Preston