Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong, and James Garner backed by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to make an impact

Manchester United caretaker manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed his belief in the clubs youngsters to play a part during the injury crisis which has seen up to ten players on the sidelines ahead of the visit to Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Wednesday evening. Solskjaer and United will be looking to return to winning ways after the 0-0 draw with Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday, which saw them fall into fifth place in the league table.

Solskjaer has seemingly promoted three teenagers into his squad for the match with 17-year-old James Garner, 18-year-old Angel Gomes, and 19-year-old Tahith Chong all being called upon ahead of the match. All three have played for the first team already with Gomes and Chong playing competitive matches for United, Garner has played during pre-season and has yet to make his debut for the club. Speaking about the teenage trio in his press conference on Tuesday morning, Solskjaer said:

“They’ve been part of our training for a long time now. Angel [Gomes] has been in that successful England U17 team, with [Jadon] Sancho and [Callum] Hudson-Odoi and [Phil] Foden, so he’s been a big part of that. I’m definitely sure that if he gets a chance he’ll do well. Jimmy Garner, he’s a Michael Carrick but 20 years younger, so I’m sure he’ll do well, and [Tahith] Chong, he’ll definitely be taking people on if he comes on.”

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Obviously, Solskjaer has not given anything away with his squad selection. He has not suggested the trio would start just stated that they may feature at some point in the match if needed. Gomes has played nine minutes in the Premier League for United this season, also making appearances under Jose Mourinho during the previous two seasons. Chong has played 28 minutes in the Emirates FA Cup this season, meaning the pair have 37 minutes of experience between them.

Gomes has been on the scene since the 2014/15 season when he first emerged in the U18s. Since then, playing also for the U19s (UEFA Youth League) and the U23s, the 18-year-old has made 80 appearances (63 starts and 17 substitute appearances), scoring 28 goals and 19 assists. Chong has been on the scene since the 2016/17 season, emerging in the U18s, also featuring for the U19s and U23s. The 19-year-old has made 54 appearances (51 starts and three substitute appearances), scoring 20 goals and 17 assists.

Garner has been involved in the youth setup since the 2016/17 season when he emerged in the U18 setup. He too has played for the U19s and the U23s. The 17-year-old, the youngest of the trio has made a total of 57 appearances (49 starts and eight substitute appearances), scoring five goals and seven assists. All three are good prospects for the future and under Solskjaer, who started his management career with United’s reserves more than a decade ago, it could see them fast-tracked into the first team regularly.

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Solskjaer believes that Garner, Gomes and Chong are all attack-minded players, which is the mentality that he has restored at the club since he replaced Mourinho in December once the Portuguese manager was sacked following a 3-1 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield. United instantly started to attack teams, beating Cardiff City in Solskjaer’s first match as United manager with his side scoring five goals, the first time they had done this in the Premier League since Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign. Solskjaer said:

“They’re ready, they’re kids. It’s hard when you’re a defender coming on if you’re 16, 17, but as an attacker, you just go out there and express yourself and there’s your chance. They can win you the game, they don’t lose it for you.”

United has a bust period after the visit to Selhurst Park. On Saturday 2 March, they will face relegation-threatened Southampton at Old Trafford, then a trip to Paris where they will face Paris Saint-Germain in the second leg clash in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday 6 March, followed by a second visit to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday 10 March. Another away match, this time against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Emirates FA Cup will follow on Saturday 16 March.

Manchester United’s injury crisis could be a bad one but look at the opportunities for others…

Manchester United could be without ten players when they face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Wednesday evening in the Premier League. This is a big blow for United and caretaker manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Of course, United have been in this position before and they will again. Injuries are something every team has to contend with at some stage of the season, some more than others though. On the other hand, injuries give a certain opportunity to other players who are hungry to perform.

On Sunday afternoon, in the 0-0 draw with Liverpool, Solskjaer lost four players to injury; Ander Herrera, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard (all hamstring) and Marcus Rashford (ankle). However, Rashford played the entire match with his ankle injury which was sustained in the first minute of the match. United lost Nemanja Matic (muscle) in training the day before the match and already had Anthony Martial (groin), Matteo Darmian, Marcos Rojo (both knocks), and Antonio Valencia (calf) on the sidelines.

“[Anthony] Martial is not going to be ready for this one either. We can’t risk it. Maybe Southampton but we are not going to risk another one. In hindsight, you could maybe say Jesse [Lingard] was eager, but he had ticked all the boxes in training, done the recovery work and rehab. Maybe it was a couple of days too early but then again it was Liverpool and he was desperate to be a part of it.”

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To add to this, Phil Jones (illness), who has endured more than 650 days of injury during his United career is also on the sidelines due to illness. Having this number of players on the sidelines is a massive blow for Solskjaer and the United squad but it is something that has to be endured. During the past few seasons, it is the defence that has suffered the most with injuries with Jones, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof, Marcus Rojo and Eric Bailly all suffering from spells on the sidelines, leaving the defence at barebones.

“We’ve not had a session yet, so I don’t think there are a lot of positives, no. I don’t know the list [of players] that’s supposed to be injured, Matteo [Darmian] trained the other day. I don’t think he’ll be ready. [Marcos] Rojo will be involved. Rashford we’re still waiting to see how his ankle is responding to the treatment, muscle injuries are too early to think about. That’s it.

“Phil [Jones] was ill one of the days last week, so he’s been out for a little while as well with an illness. Luckily at centre-back, there are quite a few fit ones, Victor [Lindelof], Chris [Smalling] and Eric [Bailly], the three of them are ready.”

The defence is pretty strong right now though with Diogo Dalot, Lindelof, Smalling, and Bailly fit and ready to play, also with a suggestion that Rojo could be involved, despite only training for around about a week. The main problems lie the midfield and attack which sees Martial, Rashford, Lingard, Mata, Herrera, and Matic on the sidelines at this moment in time, although there is a chance Rashford could feature against Palace, although that would be a big risk, considering what happened to Lingard on Sunday.

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Injuries are unfortunate but they are a factor in football. It may look like other teams have an easier challenge with injuries right now but they will all suffer at some point or another. Injuries are bad for the squad but they also allow players on the fringes of the first team, even talented youth players a chance to establish themselves. Back in the early to mid-1990s, United suffered many injuries and careers ending and it allowed the likes of Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, and David Beckham an opportunity.

This is similar to what could be happening now. Sunday saw Scott McTominay replace Matic in the team and hold his own, despite premature criticism on social media ahead of kick off. Andreas Pereira replaced Herrera in the match, he too gave his all and got stuck in with the job he was given, showing a glimpse of the player he could be. Fred, who has featured very little under Solskjaer, could be granted an opportunity to show his worth and it could also give the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez a chance to shine.

The one thing that will be good for United though, is the fact that Solskjaer has his eye on the youth and is willing to promote players to cover injuries, which give these talented players a glimpse of what is expected in the first team, also a chance to show what they can do in a first team environment. The players who seem to be given the opportunity right now are Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and James Garner, all of who have played for the first team before, Gomes last season and the season before, Chong and Garner this season.

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Solskjaer has suggested that Garner is a Michael Carrick-type of player, which will be a great confidence booster for the 17-year-old. He might be involved in the travelling squad to face Palace on Wednesday but it all depends on whether Fred is called up to the squad as to whether he occupies a place on the bench. He might not play a part in the team. Chong could feature from the start of the match, occupying a place on the right-wing, with Gomes, similar to Mata, playing in an attacking midfield position.

The Norwegian, who celebrated his 46th birthday on Tuesday, also suggested that Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, who have both been contending with a loss of form of late, could be tested together, which if it worked, could cause Solskjaer a headache, especially when the likes of Martial, Lingard and Rashford are all fit again. The Belgian and Chilean need to get back into the team as both are world-class players who need confidence and playing time to achieve the heights of their abilities once again. Solskjaer said:

“It is a chance for them to play to their potential. Reputation is one thing but their potential is high. The two of them are good mates, they link up well together, so this might be a chance for them two together to find some form and give us a selection headache for when everyone is fit again.”

Despite the negatives of injuries, there is a lot of positivity surrounding United right now. Ten players, if that is how many remain on the sidelines, is a big loss but seeing fringe players given an opportunity along with the talented youth prospects is going to be great for the future of United. The likes of Pereira, McTominay, Fred, Garner, Chong, and Gomes all deserve a chance to play just like every other player. Palace will be a tough task and lots will be asked of the players who face them, which will be a great experience.

Talented Academy stars training with Ricky Sbragia’s U23’s ahead of West Ham fixture

Manchester United U23 coach Ricky Sbragia has some of the more talented second-year professionals from Kieran McKenna’s U18 squad training with his players ahead of United’s clash with West Ham United at Leigh Sports Village in the Premier League 2 this evening. The match will be shown live on MUTV from 18:30 GMT, KO 19:00 GMT. This is welcoming as the U23’s clearly need some improvement this season as they seek a better finish in the league after slipping to eleventh in the league, second from the bottom, achieving just 11 points in the twelve matches they have played.

It has not been stated which players from the U18’s are training at U23 level, but Angel Gomes could be one after Nicky Butt, the Head of the Academy tipped the player to challenge for a place in the U23’s in 2018 after signing his first professional contract with the club last month. Many will be looking to see Gomes rise through the ranks into the first team, especially after making his debut in the final home match in the Premier League last season. Speaking to the official Manchester United website about the players training with the U23’s currently, U18 coach Kieran McKenna said:

“It’s something very much in our minds in the second half of the year. We want the second years to be exposed to that training and hoping to push for opportunities in the Under-23s. It’s a goal for them in the first week back after Christmas.

“The Under-23s will have a bigger group and it’s a little taster of that environment for the younger boys. It’s up to them to make an impression that helps them when they get integrated into that group in the second half of the campaign, going into next year.

“We speak to the players about it and tell them that, in Academy football, you get two chances to reboot the computer and refocus. One is at the end of a season and the other one is midway through, as we’re lucky enough to get a winter break at our level. They’re all going through the process of looking back at the first half of the season and what they did well, and identifying where they want to get better. We’ve identified some areas where they’re looking to kick on now. 

“It’s an important period of reflection. In the first team, we don’t get the chance to stop until the end of the season but our young players, and staff as well, can take stock halfway through and reflect where they’re at and where we want them to get to next. We’re laying down a programme and some goals for the second half of the campaign.”

Whether any of the players are selected for this evenings match is something we will have to wait and see. United will be boosted at this level by the return of Devonte Redmond who saw his loan spell with Scunthorpe United come to an end, which consisted of one minute of League football, 21 minutes of League Cup football and four appearances in the Football League Trophy, basically a reserve competition, which equates to 22 minutes of first team football in the first half of the season. The lad will be itching to play a game of football at United.

United do have a good crop of youngsters at the AON Training Complex with Tahith Chong, Gomes, Luca Ercolani, Aiden Barlow and Nishan Burkart. It is unlikely that the U18’s will be left high and dry with all of these players being promoted, but as part of their development, they should be given the chance to challenge for a place in the U23’s as sooner or later they will be part of that squad anyway. Gomes is a player who many United supporters want to see in the first team, but with him having little experience at U23 level, I would like to see how he fares here first, then see if he is deemed ready for more.

Angel Gomes looking forward to the FIFA U17 World Cup; Manchester United will keep and eye on his progress

Angel Gomes is a player who has hit the headlines recently based on the fact he has now turned 17 and so far has not signed his first professional contract with Manchester United. Some will see this is a suggestion the player was not happy at the Old Trafford club, other will see that something similar happened with Wayne Rooney at the same age, making Everton wait around three months before signing professional terms.Manchester United’s Academy staff will be keeping a close eye on Angel Gomes when he competes for England at the Under-17 World Cup in India next month.

Gomes will be travelling with England to the FIFA U17 World Cup in India in October, which will be something the club’s Academy staff will be keeping an eye on, along with the rest of the world as the player became the youngest since Duncan Edwards to make his debut in the 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Old Trafford at the end of last season, Jose Mourinho including many youngsters in his side, resting player for the UEFA Europa League final days later.

United’s U18’s captain, Gomes, playing for the U19’s in the UEFA Youth League on Wednesday afternoon, scoring the second goal in a 2-1 victory, has been selected by England U17 coach, Steve Cooper for the finals, a warm up match being played against New Zealand on Sunday 1st October 2017 ahead of the group stage matches against Chile, Mexico and Iraq, the first match being played on Sunday 8th October (Chile), the second on Wednesday 11th October (Mexico), the third on Saturday 14th October (Iraq) which may see Gomes and England reach the latter stages.

The 17-year-old is in great form this season so far, scoring two goals, getting one assist in the two UEFA Youth League matches this season, scoring three more goals, also one assist in the U18 Premier League, which this early in the season shows that he is continuing to earn the plaudits. United U18 coach, Kieran McKenna, has spoken to the official Manchester United website about Gomes playing for England in the U17 World Cup, hoping that the age group will be inspired by the U20’s World Cup win earlier in the summer, saying:

“I know he’s looking forward to it. Unfortunately, he missed the European Championship at the end of last season with a little injury. But he’s captain of the group and a big part of what is a talented England side. 

“He’s looking forward to it and all the boys here will obviously be wishing him the best and keeping an eye on how he does. We’re hoping he makes a good impact on the tournament and will be ready to come back and kick on here again.

“I think he could be away for anything up to a month, with the preparation, as it’s quite similar to the senior World Cup really. The longer you go through the tournament, the longer it is with the difference being he probably doesn’t have any rest when it finishes.

“It comes in-season rather than at the end of the season like the senior World Cup and it’s important we look at how many matches he’s played. Once he’s had a short break, he’ll be back in with us to make an impression at this club as that’s the most important thing in his development and Angel knows that very well.”

There is no doubt that Gomes is not a talent in the game, not matter his age, and he will be determined to rise through the ranks. The talk at the moment is about the fact he is yet to sign a professional contract, but with the U17 World Cup coming in the next fortnight, perhaps United have postponed or even planned that talks commence when the player has returned to the Aon Training Complex once England U17’s are through in the competition, which hopefully, for the player’s development, will not be until after the final, returning with the trophy which is currently held by Nigeria, former Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho winning the Golden Ball in the 2013 tournament, Nigeria retaining the trophy two years later.

Angel Gomes has not signed a professional contract – no need to panic yet!

Angel Gomes is a player who many Manchester United supporters have followed for years now, waiting for his chance in the first team, despite not actually playing regularly for the U23’s, which was the road Marcus Rashford took into the first team, but for different reasons – injuries to first team players. Gomes is a talent, possibly ahead of his time and he may not be getting much out of playing for the U18’s as he is clearly head and shoulders above that level of the game. Playing for the U19’s in the UEFA Youth League will be something that gives him experience, playing teams on the continent, which will help him when his first team chance actually comes.

Gomes played a cameo role in the final Premier League match of last season, a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace with the then 16-year-old replacing Wayne Rooney, who made his bow out at Old Trafford, in the last few minutes of the match. Gomes did not really get himself involved in the match, he was out of time almost as soon as he came on, but it was a taste for the things to come if his development and progress continue to head in the right direction. Gomes turned 17 on the 31st August 2017, the day he was eligible to sign his first professional contract with the Old Trafford outfit, something which has not materialised three weeks after his birthday. Some supporters are worrying based on rumours that Barcelona are reportedly after the player.

Gomes signed a Scholarship with United and has a year left on that, meaning that he is not eligible to be pursued by other clubs and cannot sign for another club until the expiry of that contract. If or when Gomes signs a professional contract with United, it will only be for three years, the maximum period of time a 17-year-old can commit to a club, then on the players 18th birthday, he will be able to sign for a period of five years, which would probably be the option United take if Gomes remains at the club and wants to remain there for the foreseeable future. Wayne Rooney, a player Gomes looks up to, signed his first professional contract with Everton around three months after his 17th birthday, which would have been something the club worried about.

Gomes could do something similar. As the player is as good as he is in the U18’s, looking to continue his development, bettering himself, the prospect of him in a few years time will always get other clubs looking at the player, especially the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona, who must have the best talent out there, even if they have to take it from elsewhere. Gomes seems quite grounded and will do things for the right reasons, which is the best way to be. I don’t think he is a player motivated by money, which is a breath of fresh air in the current state of the game with players who have not even made the grade for first team football thinking they are the best thing since sliced bread despite not actually achieving anything yet.

United would be left in a bad position if they do not keep Gomes, who has been at the club for eight years. It could be a Paul Pogba-like error which would be costly, but it is media speculation driving that suggestion, not the player, not his parents, his agent or any of his teammates. United do not seem to be in a panic about what is happening, which is a good sign. The player is United’s for the entirety of this season and during that time I expect them to offer Gomes his first professional contract, keeping him at the club for three more years and in a year’s time, a five year contract could be offered to the player, who at which point could be on his rise into the first team, which is where both he and Manchester United want him to be.

Angel Gomes on how he used to copy Nani’s celebrations

Angel Gomes turns 17 at the end of August and the Manchester United Academy player will embark on his most important season yet with 2017/18 looking to be a great season for him. Gome made his United first team debut at the end of last season in the final Premier League match against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford. He may not have started the match, but he came on for former captain Wayne Rooney in what was his last competitive match as a United player at the Theatre of Dreams, playing out the last two minutes of the match plus added time.

Gomes did not really get into the game, but his first taste of a first team fixture at Old Trafford will have been a big occasion for him, one to keep in his mind when things become tough, as they undoubtedly will on his rise through the ranks. To be picked by Jose Mourinho to play in the first team, no matter if it was the first match of the season, a match in the middle of the season or even a dead rubber at the end of the season is still something big, especially got the 16-year-old at the time. Speaking to the official Manchester United website, Gomes spoke about the experience, saying:

“That moment has been with me a long time. There are times when I am sat at home and I’ll just be drifting away when I think of the game and how everything happened so quickly. It feels great to say that I am the club’s youngest Premier League player.”

Gomes was the youngest player since Duncan Edwards to play for the first team, which to say his name after the player whose future was so bright before the Munich Air Disaster will be something to spur the player on to succeed at the club, which is what everyone wats. Gomes is the most exciting prospect to come through the Academy in a few years and to think he could be playing as a regular in the first team in a few years is a thought to savour. During the 2016/17 season, Gomes has a few things to remember. Playing as a goalkeeper in the Mercedes-Benz Junior Cup in Germany will be one of the things to remember after goalkeeper Ilias Moutha-Sebtaoui was injured, also being a ball-boy in the Emirates FA Cup clash with Wigan Athletic at Old Trafford, along with teammate Aiden Barlow. Gomes said:

“Yes, I was in goal in the indoor tournament we won in Germany and I was a ball-boy as well, in the FA Cup. To go from being a ball-boy to coming on for Wayne Rooney was amazing. What a player to come on for. Wayne Rooney is a club legend who I think will do amazing [things] at Everton. He helped me and spoke to me when I was coming on, so it was nice.”

Gomes, who was London-born but Salford-raised also went into some detail about his background, including the relationship with former United winger Nani, who many think is the player’s cousin, which is, in fact, incorrect – Nani is the player’s godfather. Gomes spoke about trying to recreate the player’s acrobatic celebration when he was much younger. The Academy starlet said:

“I’m a Salford lad at heart. I love being from Salford. It’s where I grew up so I always say that’s where I’m from. My dad [Gil Gomes] played at the Under-23 World Cup and is well-known in Portugal as they won it and he played with some great players as well. It’s nice to be following in his footsteps really.

“Nani is my godfather. He’s been amazing to me and gives me lots of advice. I am just lucky to have someone like that in my life. When I was younger, he used to be my idol. I used to watch him and even practice his backflips on the trampoline. I know I can’t do that now!”

Gomes is the captain of England at youth level and for some time now it has been clear the player has kept his feet rooted firmly to the ground, which is a good thing to see, especially in this day and age. Gomes has been brought up the Manchester United way and that will be something that helps him to emerge as one of the most exciting players at the club, which is something which is destined to happen sooner rather than later. As Sir Matt Busby once said; ‘if they are good enough, they are old enough’. Gomes concluded by saying:

“I’ve been here a long time. I started at the Under-6s and progressed up really. I used to play down [an age group] because of my height and physicality obviously but I was lucky to kick on since the Under-13s and it’s been amazing.

“I think people forget how young I am really. Of course, it would be a great experience to get a few more minutes in the first team under my belt at some point but I’ll just try to kick on in the Under-18s and Under-23s and learn a lot of things.

“I hope to gain a lot of experience in the UEFA Youth League, for example, and the Reserves have a new coach in Ricky [Sbragia] so it’ll be great to work under him too. Last season, we played some high quality football, but didn’t end up doing the ultimate thing of winning trophies. We want to win more this season.”

Gomes could be challenged this coming season, eligible to play for the Kieran McKenna’s U18’s, Nicky Butt’s U19 (in the UEFA Youth League) and Ricky Sbragia’s U23’s. There is also a chance that the player could rise into the first team again if he continues to impress manager Jose Mourinho. There is no guarantee though, Gomes will need to keep his head down, earn his plaudits and continue his rise through the ranks at Manchester United.

Angel Gomes has the talent to succeed but he should not get ahead of himself

Angel Gomes is a player that many Manchester United supporters are excited about. The 16-year-old became the youngest player since Duncan Edwards to play for Manchester United in the final Premier League match of the season, a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace. Gomes came on in the last two minutes with Wayne Rooney making his last competitive appearance for United at Old Trafford and Gomes playing the final few minutes plus stoppage time. The 16-year-old did not get a chance to show his stuff of get much involvement, but it was a reward for his good performances at U18 level over the past few seasons, especially the one where United lost 12 consecutive league matches – the season before last.

Gomes played well with new arrivals at U18 level last season, scoring and assisting goals and generally impressing his manager and the coaching team. The England schoolboy is a thrilling prospect and the fact he was given his debut at an early age will give him more hunger to achieve that again. I feel it was premature though, but there was nothing at stake for either United or the player, so why not? Gomes needs to be challenged at U23 level at times this current season, also playing for the U19 in the UEFA Youth Cup, which will continue his development on the European stage, going a long way to helping him rise through the ranks and earn a first team place in the coming years.

Gomes will play for the U18’s this coming season, which will be another big one with more players coming into the club from the lower ranks and from other clubs, keeping United youth development record alive. Gomes should be given a handful of matches at U23 level, which will challenge him in all the right places, seeing if he can step up to that level – if they are good enough, they are old enough. If that works, there will be a big aura around the player, who will in effect be earning his place at the club, at a young age ahead of schedule, which is great but should not be taken for granted as if he is not ready, it could harm him more than it helps him.

For Gomes to continue his development he just needs to do what he has been doing, put the effort in, which he does, help his teammates out and continue to create, assist and score goals, which he has been doing well over the last few seasons. Gomes is a great prospect and one who everyone will put the faith into as his talent has been shown continuously, even during the bad times when United U18 struggled to win, Gomes tried to change things, which is a good attribute for a player, not matter how young or old, to have. The FA Youth Cup will be something Gomes wants to win as he will be running out of chances for that, last season was seen as a good chance, but it was not meant to be. Perhaps this coming season Gomes will shine and bring about this challenge – earning his plaudits even more.

The world is this lads oyster and he really can reach for the stars. If he continues to impress, he could have a chance of representing United’s first team again next season with United challenging on all four fronts. The Carabao Cup or even the Emirates FA Cup could be an option depending on the opposition – if that happens, Gomes will take his chance, do his best and await another chance. But for now, the player should concentrate on the U18 and the U23’s and seek to impress and word will soon get to Jose Mourinho who will be waiting for that to happen.

Rise To Fame: Angel Gomes; Manchester United’s young debutant

Angel Gomes is one of the most exciting players at Manchester United at this moment in time. The 16-year-old has been playing in the U18’s for the last two seasons, show his ability and despite his age, he is already at a level whereby if he keeps working hard, he will be rewarded with a first team place under Jose Mourinho. Gomes made his United debut in the Premier League in the last match of the season, a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Old Trafford, a match which also saw the debuts of Joel Pereira (full), Demetri Mitchell, Scott McTominay (full), and Josh Harrop. Gomes replaced Wayne Rooney in the 88th minute, playing the remainder of the match including stoppage time. Whilst Gomes did not get to show his stuff, which he has consistently shown whilst playing for the U18’s this season, he did well on his Old Trafford debut, showing a glimpse of what the future could look like at United.

During the last three seasons, Gomes has played 40 times for the U18’s (29 starts and 11 substitute appearances). The 16-year-old has scored a total of 15 goals, three in the 2015/16 season, 12 in the 2016/17 season, also assisting 12 times, six in each of the aforementioned seasons. During the 2014/15 season, Gomes made one appearance for the U18’s, from the bench, which gave him a taste of what to expect the following season, which was not a good one for the U18’s then led by Paul McGuinness. During that 2015/16 season, the side lost 12 straight U18 Premier League matches, sinking to new lows which resulted in McGuinness leaving the club, replaced by former Tottenham Hotspur coach Kieran McKenna, who changed the tide during the last season, turning a team which regularly lost during the previous season, to a team which won the majority of their matches, playing some good football and scoring goals aplenty, Gomes being involved in that.

Gomes has all the ingredients to make a success of himself at the Old Trafford club, which could see another player rise through the ranks at the club, just like the likes of Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Phil Neville, amongst others. The England youth international is a player who at his current age group, can set the world alight, turning on a sixpence and creating something out of nothing. The class which has been added to the U18’s over the last season really has helped Gomes find his feet and aim for the stars. The likes of Tahith Chong, Joshua Bohui, Indy Boonen, DJ Buffonge, some of them at the club during that first full season for Gomes which saw many defeats, showing the U18’s what it is like to be defeated, a key thing to experience for anyone who wants to become a winner – you need to learn to lose and appreciate it, using it to steer you clear of that, aiming for victory, what any footballer would want to do.

The coming season could be an important one for Gomes, he will continue to excel in the U18’s, being eligible for the next season (with him turning 19 in August 2018), meaning it may be time to start giving him matches in the U23 age group which will be an experience for him, something which could help him on his rise to the top of the game, which is where I am sure he would like to find himself at a point in his career. With United earning a UEFA Champions League group stage place next season, after winning the UEFA Europa League, the club will be added to the UEFA Youth League, a competition they last played in during the 2014/15 season, the last time they played in the Champions League. Gomes will then be pitted against some of the top clubs in the U19 age group in Europe, which will give him an added experience, one which he will have seen playing in tournaments during the summer, but this will be so much different.

Gomes will be tipped for the top by many, but caution will need to be adopted as we have seen so many players come through the Academy with high prospects, not actually reaching their potential, Adnan Januzaj for instance, his time at United was great in the youth ranks, making that step up to the first team under David Moyes in the 2013/14 season, then starting his fall from grace the following season, still seemingly in free fall at this moment in time. I am not saying Gomes will end up like Januzaj or any of the other players with great prospects to come through the various age groups at United, but caution needs to be adopted, as not all things tend to go to plan. Gomes seems to be doing everything he can at this moment in time and is still heading in the right direction. His full debut at the end of the last season will reward him for his progress thus far and should inspire him for more to come in the future.

I don’t think we have all seen or heard enough about Angel Gomes and we will certainly see a lot more of him in the weeks, months and years ahead.

Ones To Watch: Angel Gomes; Manchester United shining light

Adilson Angel Abreu de Almeida Gomes, or as he is better known, Angel Gomes, is a name that many Manchester United supporters would have heard for a while now. He is one of the most talented players in the Academy, and has been praised by many for the past few years, at different levels of course. Gomes made his bow in the Manchester United U18 side in the 2014/15 season, making one appearance, albeit from the bench. The following season, Gomes was part of the U18 squad making 18 appearances (ten of them starts), scoring three goals and assisting a further six. That was a great rise to fame for the then 15-year-old. This season, a better season for the U18’s, Gomes has made 14 appearances so far, starting 13 times, scoring eight goals and assisting a further six goals. Gomes is the ray of light within the U18’s was even last season when the squad lost twelve consecutive league appearances, needing restructuring in the summer, which happens with the reinforcement of the squad with the likes of Lee O’Connor, Tahith Chong, Nishan Burkart, Alex Fojticek and Joshua Bohui, not to mention to rise of Indy Boonen, Ilias Moutha-Sebtaoui and others in the talented age group. Academy head Nicky Butt has praised Gomes, saying:

“Angel Gomes is a young talented player that we have massive hopes for.”

Gomes has been linked to Barcelona, despite his father suggesting that Manchester United was his son’s dream club and the club he wants to rise through the ranks of, meaning that Barcelona and probably other teams will be circling like vultures around the player in years to come. Gomes’ rise is not just at club level, he is the captain of England’s U16 squad, where he is just as impressive as he has been for United. He then moved up to U17 level, helping England beat Germany 8-1. Gomes is likely to be a player that astounds many in the years to come, and as he is only 16-years-old, to achieve what he has done so far, will only be something he adds to. Manny suggest he should be playing first team football, he might fit into the team well, but considering he has not yet had any U23 level football at the club, he could find himself well out of his depth. There is no reason to throw him in at the deep end just yet, he needs to bond with his teammates at U18 level, create a great team at that level, and before we know it, the likes of Gomes, Chong, Boonen and Burkart could be talked about in the same vein  as the famous Class of 1992.

Gomes is not the cousin of former Manchester United winger Nani, who is now playing for Valencia in La Liga, which many will have you believe. The player is already more exciting than Nani, though, and at the U18 level, seems more consistent in his performances. The 16-year-old was named the Premier Cup’s Most Valuable Player in 2015, with Manchester United failing to make the latter stages of the tournament, which is some achievement based on the talent that can be found playing in the tournament. Played in the number ten role, Gomes is assured on the ball and has wide passing range. Gomes has bags of potential and should he reach that, United could have someone special in their team once again, not that they don’t have right now. Gomes has been at Manchester United for nine years, since he was seven years old. He broke in the U15 side at the age of 13, then into the U18 side at the age of 14, being an unused substitute many times, making his U18 debut in the 2014/15 season, as mentioned before.

Gomes, making his full debut the following season, became the youngest Manchester United player, in more than 15 years, to score a hat-trick, which was achieved in the 2015/16 season against Newcastle United in a 5-1 victory. That season did not go too well for United at U18 level, but the current season is looking so much better with the side second in the Premier League U18, a point behind leaders Manchester City, who have two games in hand themselves. It is a big turnaround after last season though, especially in that United have scored more goals after 15 matches, than they did in the entirety of last season. Gomes himself has scored eight goals, assisting a further six this season, with his teammates scoring well too. In total, United have scored 43 goals this season, conceding 23 goals, which is a massive improvement. Manchester City, a team they have been beaten by and drawn against this season, stay in the driving seat though, but with many matches left in the season, anything could happen.

United face their first opponents in the FA Youth Cup on Monday evening at Old Trafford, facing Southampton. This is a tournament which United have won ten times in the history of the club, and this season, with the talent at their disposal, the likes of Gomes, Boonen, Chong, Burkart et al could all be making themselves even further known in the game they love. Gomes will hopefully emerge as one of the stars this season, which he is well on the way to achieving, and a trophy at this level at the end of the season will show that hard work can pay off for youngsters at the club, which will give every player at the Academy something to strive for over the coming years. You may have heard a lot about Angel Gomes so far, but expect more to come from the 16-year-old, a lot more.

copyright: JW