Menu

Why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should consider a Manchester United backroom staff shake up

The frustration for most Manchester United fans as the club enters the midpoint of the January transfer window is that the Reds are yet to invest in the playing squad. In over a year of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s rebuild, only three players have been signed, and even they were seen to be overly long and drawn out. 

Solskjaer and those behind the scenes will continue to toe the line that only the right types will be brought in and that it is incredibly hard to bring in new talent to the club in the month of January. However, it might be an easier task to acquire the right new first team coaches for the manager to work with. Solskjaer is still learning on the job and has a squad not currently able to perform consistently, so could new ideas on the training ground lead to a sustained upturn in form? 

After David De Gea’s mistakes against Everton and Watford in December, United drafted in Craig Mawson from Burnley as a new assistant first team goalkeeping coach just before the new year. De Gea’s form in the past 12 months has been questionable but a turnaround in fortune in 2020 for the Spaniard could be the example to form a new focus on recruitment for the club.

The likes of Mike Phelan, Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna have been part of Solskjaer’s team since he arrived, although there were rumours that Phelan was to take over the role of technical director in the summer.  Since their appointments full time, fans are yet to see a substantial style of play emerging and as ever these days, managers and coaches are quick to be compared, especially with those at rival clubs. After watching Leeds United at Arsenal in the FA Cup, many wondered how Marcelo Bielsa and his staff could make a Championship team so comfortable in possession.

The truth is simply that United’s coaching staff don’t have the experience yet. In particularly Carrick, who only retired from football in May 2018 and McKenna, who prior to Jose Mourinho’s final season in charge, had only managed United and Tottenham Hotspur’s under 18’s. Although Carrick and McKenna have received backing from players, when results aren’t forthcoming, inevitably most will start to doubt their ideas.

On the other hand, a decade ago Phelan was part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s backroom staff that won three titles in five seasons and reached two Champions League finals before his departure in 2013. Since then however, he has endured a disastrous spell as manager at Hull City. There’s no doubt that Phelan was and still could be a good coach, but it’s questionable whether or not he is still in touch with the modern footballer and the game’s tactics.

Shortly after Phelan was sacked at Hull, it was revealed that the average Premier League manager lasts 91 games, with a win percentage of 30%. Solskjaer currently is on 61 matches as United manager, although currently has a better win percentage of 49%. Concerningly, this has decreased significantly ever since he was appointed permanently and could well reach the average by the end of the season. When Solskjaer came in originally, his ideas were fresh and it breathed new life into the squad who had clearly became tired of Mourinho’s approach.

To survive at United, Solskjaer will need to borrow some ideas from the great Sir Alex Ferguson, who consistently changed his coaches every few seasons to keep all aspects of training innovative. Ferguson moved from Steve McClaren to Carlos Queiroz and then onto Phelan almost seamlessly with continued success, while his changes in coaching staff often signified the dawning of a new team. From what we hear, Solskjaer isn’t going anywhere and Ed Woodward has total faith in him. For Solskjaer to be afforded the time to build his own teams however, he may have to constantly rebuild his own backroom staff.

Written by Alex Metcalfe

Who is Manchester United’s new first team coach, Kieran McKenna?

Kieran McKenna has just won the Premier League North with Manchester United’s U18s. After just two seasons of managing United’s youngsters, the Fermanagh man has been rewarded by being appointed head coach of the first team.

McKenna will be the man responsible for running and organising first team training sessions for Jose Mourinho. With the departure of assistant coach Rui Faria, Mourinho is about to begin a philosophical change at Old Trafford. Rather than bringing in an actual assistant, Mourinho is bringing in coaches who will manage certain areas within the squad.

After coaching promising youngsters such as Angel Gomes and Tahith Chong, McKenna will coach United’s big names such as Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba. Mourinho has the philosophy where he does not like to work with experienced coaches who are external to him. The Portuguese boss likes to shape his backroom staff’s ideology so that they will have similar input to himself.

Career

When McKenna was 15-years-old, he left his home in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland to join Tottenham Hotspur’s academy. During his time in North London, he was perceived as a promising prospect. His dedication, attitude, and talent consequentially lead to him being named reserve team captain at 21-years-old.

Unfortunately for McKenna, a chronic hip injury ended his playing career prematurely. Still in love with the game of football, McKenna used his passion and drive to complete a degree in sports science at the University of Loughborough. Additionally, the Fermanagh man started working as head analyst at Tottenham’s Youth Academy.

McKenna was then granted the position of head coach of Tottenham’s U18s. In 2015 he guided the Spurs youngsters to an FA Youth Cup semi-final. Due to his success at Tottenham, Manchester United showed admiration for the young coach.

Just in time for the 2016/2017 season, McKenna was appointed head coach of Manchester United’s U18s. In his first season, United u18s finished second place in the Premier League North. With the lack of players in United’s U23 squad due to departures, first team call-ups and loans, u18 players were chosen to play at U23 level. Obviously, this affected the results of the U18s but it is important to remember youth football isn’t about success it’s about development.

This season just gone, Kieran McKenna guided United’s stars of the future to the U18 Premier League North title. Success has declined for United’s U23s in recent years however, McKenna has coached a crop of players that have shown hope for United’s youth system. Consequentially, Kieran McKenna’s work has been admired by Jose Mourinho.

Style of Football

McKenna is a boyhood United fan, he has grown up watching and supporting the teams that were coached by Sir Alex Ferguson. His own teams play attacking football themselves, this may come as joy to many United fans. After two spells by managers who play pragmatic football, a coach who plays offensive football, is now controlling first team training.

After getting the best out of promising youngsters with attacking flair, United fans will be eager to see him do the same with the like of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, and Alexis Sanchez. The 32-year-old may also bridge the gap between the U18s and the first team. Highly rated youngster Angel Gomes is coming to an age where he may feel he is entitled to a chance of first team football. Having McKenna coaching the first team is the perfect way to try and bed the player into the squad correctly.

Mourinho’s Men

Joining McKenna will be Michael Carrick and Stefano Rapetti. Carrick who has just recently retired has enjoyed a close relationship with Mourinho. Mourinho has even name-checked him about possibly becoming his assistant in the future. Previously players have mentioned Carrick’s influence in the United dressing room. Furthermore, he seems to be a good addition to a squad that can be short on morale at times.

Likewise, to McKenna, Rapetti was discovered by Mourinho whilst he was working with a club’s youth team. At Inter Milan, Mourinho was impressed with Rapetti’s work with the club’s U19s. The Italian was brought into Mourinho’s first team staff at Inter in 2009. That season was arguably Mourinho’s finest moment as a coach as Inter won the treble. Mourinho will be hoping that Rapetti will have a similar influence on his United squad.

Going in to his third season in the North West, Mourinho will have a refreshed coaching team. All adding their own qualities, United fans will hope it works out. Although Carrick and Rapetti have big expectations as coaches at Old Trafford, it is McKenna who will intrigue the United faithful the most. A change of style at Old Trafford is needed to change United’s critics tune. The appointment of McKenna just may be Jose Mourinho’s way of answering those critics.

Written by Shane Purcell

Manchester United U18s are proof the future at the club is bright

Many fans of rival Premier League sides have mocked Manchester United this season as the U23s, were relegated to Division 2 of Premier League 2, which hardly fits with the legacy of producing strong Academy prospects who can develop and be ready for first-team minutes. However, whilst the U23 side struggled this season, Kieran McKenna’s U18 side won the Premier League North, scoring 65 goals in 22 games in the process. Although they went on to lose to Jody Morris’ Chelsea side in the National final, many positives can be taken from this season for the young reds.

Perhaps most well-renowned of the players in and around this side are Angel Gomes and Tahith Chong, with the former winning the Jimmy Murphy award, given to the best U18 player, last year and the latter winning it this season. However, both have now become more incorporated with the U23 side and only featured in the National final against Chelsea due to the absence of some players who were at the U17 European Championships.

Amongst these on youth international duty is Jimmy Garner, who has captained United on various occasions this season despite only being a first-year scholar. In 20 appearances in the league this season, Garner scored four goals and provided four assists, largely from a deep-lying midfield position. His performances have been assured and have resulted in him being a pivotal part of the side’s core. Consequently, the 17-year old has captained England and was nominated for the Jimmy Murphy Award alongside Chong. He may still have a role to play for the U18s next season, but it would not be surprising to see him promoted to the U23 side next season to provide a greater challenge and continue his development.

The other nominee for the best U18 player of the season was Lee O’Connor, the 17-year-old Irishman who has also captained the side at times this season. O’Connor is a second-year scholar who performed well last season, and his performances this have seen him play five games for the U23s as well as 17 for McKenna’s side. He has also been capped for the Irish National side at U16, U17, and U19 level. His versatility means he can fill in at centre-half, either fullback or even slot into midfield when required. He is one who will certainly be used more frequently for Ricky Sbragia’s side next season.

There have also been international call-ups for various others in this side, demonstrating what a talented crop of players McKenna has at his disposal. Largie Ramazani (Belgium), Arnau Puigmal (Spain), and Ethan Laird (England) are all alongside Garner in representing their countries at the ongoing Under-17 Euros, whilst others like Nishan Burkart (Switzerland) and Dylan Levitt (Wales) have been capped.

Levitt has been crucial to his domestic side, forming a strong partnership with Garner at the base of midfield and providing the platform for the attacking flair of Burkart, Ramazani, Puigmal, and Mason Greenwood to flourish. This has come despite both being first-year scholars, and the time they will have to develop this partnership further can only be beneficial for United’s future.

Greenwood is being increasingly talked about after a fantastic season. Despite only turning 16 last October, he scored 16 goals and provided four assists in 17 games for the U18s this season, and was only left out of the England U17 squad for the Euros so he could focus on his GCSEs. He may be given some chances for the U23s next season, and it will only make for an increasingly competitive side which will be looking to bounce straight back up to the first division.

That many of the side are first-year scholars is even more promising, and with the likes of Teden Mengi starting to make a breakthrough, the reel of talented United youngsters will continue to run.

Written by Rob Potter

Confirmed Starting XI: Greenwood, Burkart & Mellor lead the line as United look to clinch U18 Premier League North title

Manchester United U18’s could clinch the U18 Premier League North today if they beat or even draw against Manchester City at the Leigh Sports Village. The match will be shown live on MUTV, with United also making the game available for free on YouTube. United have scored 62 goals at this level this season with Mason Greenwood the top scorer with 16 goals in the league this season.

United have done well at this level over the last few seasons after losing twelve consecutive matches in the league during the 2015/16 season which saw Paul McGuinness leave the club. Last season, in the Northern section, United finished second to City, finishing fourth in the second stage of the league.

If United win the northern section this season, which will either happen this weekend with a victory or next weekend, they will play one further match this season against the winners of the Southern section, which looks set to be Chelsea once again and that could be a tough match for this United side.

Manchester United:

Kovar;

Tanner, Laird, Bernard, B. Williams;

Garner, Galbraith, Levitt;

Burkart, Greenwood, Mellor

Substitutes:

Dunne, Fojticek, McGhee, Baars, Ramazani

Manchester City beat United in the reverse fixture back in November, conceding four goals against their local rivals. In the ten league matches since that defeat, United have won eight times, drawing once and losing once. McKenna’s side has scored 33 goals, conceding 12 goals, also keeping two clean sheets. Beating City to clinch the title will be the one they want though.

Manchester United U18’s could win the U18 Premier League North by beating Manchester City today!

Manchester United’s U18’s could win the U18 Premier League today if they beat or even draw with Manchester City at the Leigh Sports Village. The match will kick off at noon (BST) and will be shown live on MUTV and if you do not subscribe to the channel, the club will be broadcasting the match from 11:45 am on YouTube. Kieran McKenna’s U18 side currently top the U18 Premier League table with 45 points after 20 matches. Liverpool sits in second place on 35 points after 19 matches and cannot win the league.

The only team able to catch United is Manchester City, who have played just 18 games. There are 22 matches to play in the league and City could still win 12 points, meaning they could match United’s 45 points but United will need to lose their remaining two matches – City and Liverpool. The chances for City are slim but still possible. A draw would see United rise to 46 points and therefore crowned the U18 Premier League North champions. There would be a final match against the U18 Premier League North champions which looks set to be Chelsea again this season.

United’s U18’s have done well this season, finishing second to Manchester City last season, then finishing fourth in Group One in the second league stage, which resulted in a further seven matches being played – United earning eight points in total. The league format has changed this season, scrapping the seven extra matches with just one match; the winner of the U18 Premier League North against the winner of the U18 Premier League South.

McKenna’s U18 side scored 62 goals in the 20 matches played so far this season, conceding 30 goals. United have won 14 matches, drawn three and lost three. Mason Greenwood has scored the most goals in the U18 Premier League North this season, having amassed 16 goals so far, assisting a further six in the league, him being involved in 22 goals this season. Nishan Burkart has scored ten goals, assisting a further 10, meaning he has played a part in 20 goals in the league this season. Aiden Barlow has scored six goals, assisting seven times, having involvement in 13 goals.

It shows the changes that have been made at U18 level ahead of this season. During the 2015/16 season, this side lost twelve consecutive matches in the U18 Premier League which resulted in Paul McGuinness leaving the club. Last season, the emergence of Angel Gomes, amongst others, saw this United side claw back the dire season they had previously, falling short to Manchester City. This season, despite Gomes still being eligible to play at this level, he has been promoted to U23 level, currently on the sidelines through injury. Tahith Chong is another who has been promoted.

Nicky Butt has done well to make the changes he has made in the short time since he became the head of the clubs Academy. Going from the team which finished 11th in the north division in the 2015/16 season, to the second-placed team the following season shows the progress the club and the players have made. Having the likes of Gomes, Chong, Burkart, Barlow, and Greenwood show how much talent remains at the club at this present time with more players looking to make a name for themselves as we head into the 2018/19 season.

If United end up winning the U18 Premier League North, whether they beat the Southern champions, which is destined to be Chelsea or not, will not matter. The progress of the clubs Academy, which this season seems to be at the expense of City, is a sign of something good happening at this level for Manchester United. Long may that continue.

Ratings: Mason Greenwood and D’Mani Mellor score in Wolves defeat

Manchester United were beaten 3-2 by Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League Cup U18 on Saturday afternoon. Austin Samuels scored in the 23rd and 28th minute to break United hearts with Joe Whittingham scoring 90 seconds into the second half. D’Mani Mellor scored a consolation for United with Mason Greenwood getting another two minutes from time, not enough for United.

At this level, there were so many players missing this match because of the UEFA Youth League, so a lot of the quality had been removed from the squad. The noticeable absences of Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong, Aiden Barlow, Lee O’Connor, Jake Barrett, Ethan Laird and Alex Fojticek all showed the quality United have at this level.

The performances of D’Mani Mellor, who scored United first goal and Mason Greenwood, the scorer of the second showed that United have some talented players coming through who may not be regular starters at this level. Kieran McKenna has a good side and the importance of making into the knockout stages of the UEFA Youth League must mean more to United than this competition.

Goals: D’Mani Mellor 72′, Mason Greenwood 88′

Manchester United: Richardson; Tanner, Mengi, Bernard, Williams; Garner, Traore (Baars 53′); Ramazani (Mellor 53′), Greenwood, Levitt; Burkart (Puigmal 71′)

Substitutes Not Used: Carney, Galbraith

Manchester United

Theo Richardson

Conceded three goals and seemed to be lacking confidence. It was a youthful side with many rested ahead of the UEFA Youth League clash with CSKA Moscow on Tuesday.

12345

George Tanner

Provided the width in defence and attack at times. Could not stop his side from conceding three goals.

12345

43 Teden Mengi

Not the best start at this level for Mengi. Seemed out of sorts and lacking experience, seeing his side conceded twice in the first half and just after the restart.

12345

Di’Shon Bernard

Lacked experience and just did not command the defence like he should have. United conceded three goals in the match, needing a miracle to win the game.

12345

33 Brandon Williams

Lively on the left flank, tried to take his opposition on when breaking forward. Too much for United after they conceded the third at the start of the second half.

12345

James Garner

Booked in the second half. The captain was not really leading his side. This team lacked ambition and the ability to control the game. A long way to go for some of the players today.

12345

Aliou Traore

Not the best performance on his debut for Manchester United. Just did not get into the game at all. Early days though. Replaced by Baars in the 53rd minute.

12345

59 Largie Ramazani

Ramazani made his first start at U18 level against Wolves but did not really get into the game after United fell 3-0 down by the time he was replaced in the 53rd minute by D'Mani Mellor. Did look the brightest player early in the match.

12345

11 Mason Greenwood

Looked lively at times. Seemed unable to turn on the magic we know he is capable of. Scored United's second goal in the 88th minute. Watch out for his name rising through the ranks.

12345

Dylan Levitt

Bright at times. Tried to inspire his side, but there was too many passengers in this match. Will be annoyed to see his side exit the competition.

12345

Nishan Burkart

Played 71 minutes and tried to influence the game with too many mistakes being made at the back and in midfield. Replaced by Puigmal.

12345

Substitutes

49 D’Mani Bughail-Mellor

Replaced Ramazani 53'. Scored a consolation goal. Dug deep from his introduction in the match.

12345

Millen Baars

Replaced Traore 53'. Should have maybe started this match. Played well but is was too late for United when he came on.

12345

47 Arnau Puigmal

Replaced Bukart 71'. Registered a great chance almost as soon as he came on.

12345

Report: Manchester United knocked out of the Premier League Cup U18 after Wolves defeat

Manchester United were beaten 3-2 by Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League Cup U18 on Saturday afternoon. Austin Samuels scored in the 23rd and 28th minute to break United hearts with Joe Whittingham scoring 90 seconds into the second half. D’Mani Mellor scored a consolation for United with Mason Greenwood getting another two minutes from time, not enough for United.

Kieran McKenna made a few changes for his side ahead of the UEFA Youth League clash with CSKA Moscow on Tuesday. Aliou Traore made his debut at U18 level, whilst Di’Shon Bernard and Largie Ramazani both made their first start at U18 level with Teden Mengi, and Mason Greenwood, both talented U16 level players, making starts also.

United started the game well and with Arsenal winning 4-2 against Stoke, United needed the win to make it through to the next stage of the Premier League Cup U18. United looked lively with Dylan Levitt and Nishan Burkart playing well together, which was where United first credible chance of the game came with the former setting up Burkart who rounded the keeper, hitting the post.

United forced a save from the Wolves keeper with Largie Ramazani breaking through, showing himself as the brightest star in the game so far today. United’s dominance was short-lived though with Wolves taking the lead in the 25th minute through Austin Samuels after getting in behind the United defence, who were all out of position and taking first blood from the game, giving United a big hill to climb.

United found themselves 2-0 down in the 28th minute after some poor play by the United defence. Samuels again took advantage of the poor defending, beating both Mengi and Bernard, slotting home his second goal of the match. United needed to buck their ideas up, or face being knocked out of the Premier League Cup U18 this season.

United started to recover from their mistakes later in the second half, pressuring Wolves going forward and winning set-piece after set-piece, still trailing 2-0 though. United had a long-range effort in the 40th minute of the match which was straight at the goalkeeper but showed intent from this United side, who could change the game in the second half. The first half ended 2-0 to Wolves.

There were no changes for United at the start of the second half and needed to win by three clear goals, needing a 5-3 victory at least from this half. It was not to be though as Wolves scored again through Joe Whittingham 90 seconds into the second half. Bernard was on the right side of the header and should have done more to thwart the attempt.

United had a penalty shout in the 52nd minute after what seemed to be a push inside the box but nothing was given by the referee and James Garner ended up being booked. In the 53rd minute, McKenna made a double substitution with Ramazani and Traore being replaced by Millen Baars and D’Mani Mellor.

United were still chasing the game on the hour mark, needing nothing short of a miracle to win this match. Despite the changes, Wolves seemed to be in the driving seat in the match at this stage, despite being 3-0 up. In the 65th minute of the match, United through George Tanner broke forward, aiming to get a goal back in the game, but it did not come.

United made their third substitution in the 71st minute with Arnau Puigmal replacing Nishan Burkart. In the 72nd minute, after Puigmal had a chance to score, D’Mani Mellor got a goal back for United, which was a start. 3-1 to Wolves though. United tried to get back into the game, but needing six goals was too big a task. They did have many set-pieces late on though – to no avail.

In the 85th minute, United had a great chance to get another goal, unable to get it into the back of the net, unbelievably. United won a throw-in from the attempt. United scored their second goal in the 88th minute through Mason Greenwood. United seemed to show some urgency in injury time, unable to get anything from the game, losing 3-2 and ending their time in the Premier League Cup U18 this season.

Goals: D’Mani Mellor 72′, Mason Greenwood 88′

Manchester United: Richardson; Tanner, Mengi, Bernard, Williams; Garner, Traore (Baars 53′); Ramazani (Mellor 53′), Greenwood, Levitt; Burkart (Puigmal 71′)

Substitutes Not Used: Carney, Galbraith

Confirmed Starting XI: Burkart leads the line against Wolves

Manchester United U18’s take on Wolverhampton Wanderers U18 in the Premier League Cup at the Sir Jack Hayward Training Ground, The match was due to kick off at 11:30 this morning, but due to inclement weather, the match was put back an hour. United beat Arsenal in their first match back in September, a 4-3 thriller. In November, United were beaten 1-0 by Stoke City meaning they will need a victory over Wolves today. The group is pretty much open with all teams on three points with Arsenal at the top of the league on goal difference and United in second place. United, at this level, have been playing well this season, beating Blackburn Rovers 4-1 in the Premier League U18 league but falling to a 4-1 defeat to Manchester City last week.

Manchester United:

Richardson;

Tanner, Mengi, Bernard, Williams;

Garner, Traore;

Ramazani, Greenwood, Levitt;

Burkart

Substitutes:

Carney, Galbraith, Puigmal, Baars, Mellor

Kieran McKenna’s side will be seeking that victory to keep them in the Premier League Cup U18 this season, a win could see them top the table, dependant on the result of the Arsenal match, currently a 1-1 draw at half-time, which could see United in pole position with a victory over Wolves. Come on UNITED!

Ratings: Angel Gomes, Nishan Burkart and Tahith Chong try to inspire Manchester United in derby defeat

Manchester United were beaten 4-1 by Manchester City in the first derby in the Premier League U18 this season. Tahith Chong put United a goal up in the sixth minute of the match, but City equalised two minutes later. It was a bad day in Manchester for United, who have lost their top spot in the U18 league, and with City having two games in hand, two wins will put some distance between the two sides.

United will take a break from the Premier League U18 for nearly a fortnight, playing their next match on Saturday 9th December against second-placed Liverpool at home. Next week though, United will face Wolverhampton Wanderers in the U18 Premier League Cup at the Sir Jack Hayward Training Ground needing a victory after falling to a 1-0 defeat in the last game against Stoke City, winning the first, a 4-3 thriller, against Arsenal earlier in the season.

United slip from top to third in the Premier League U18 North, level on points and goal difference with Everton. City take the top spot with two games in hand over both United and Everton. Liverpool sit in fourth place, two points adrift of United with two games in hand also. It could become another tough season for United, especially if they fail to beat Liverpool in a fortnight’s time.

Goals: Tahith Chong 6′

Manchester United: Fojticek; Laird, Barrett (Tanner 45′), O’Connor, Williams; Garner, Barlow; Puigmal (Levitt 65′), Gomes, Chong (Baars 65′); Burkart

Substitutes Not Used: Carner, Bughail-Mellor

Manchester United

Alex Fojticek

Conceded four goals in the Manchester derby. City were just too hot to handle for United. A bad day at the office.

12345

Ethan Laird

Not the best of performances for United and a devastating result against City. Should be used as inspiration.

12345

Jake Barrett

United's defence was not strong enough to keep City at bay. Sad to see but United were out of their depth after conceding the equaliser.

12345

Lee O’Connor

Was solid at times, but City were cutting through United defence in a regimented way. Could have scored in the final few minutes, which would have been a mere consolation for United.

12345

33 Brandon Williams

United were undone by City but there was nobody to blame in the defeat. United were not good enough on the day, despite taking the lead in the sixth minute.

12345

James Garner

Will be annoyed at the way United crumbled, especially for the equaliser just two minutes after Chong opened the scoring.

12345

Aidan Barlow

Had a few attempts on goal and inspired with some good play at times. Unable to get anything for United. One of those days.

12345

47 Arnau Puigmal

Worked well with Gomes, Chong and Burkart, also Barlow. Used his pace and ability to help get United a break, however that break never came. Substituted on the 65th minute.

12345

28 Angel Gomes

Got frustrated, pushed Rosler and could have seen red, but was booked. Seemed off his game on occasion. Missed a penalty but dig deep to help his side.

12345

Tahith Chong

The Dutchman was probably the standout player from the first half, putting United ahead in the opening six minutes. Looked like he had overcome his injury fully. Substituted on the 65th minute.

12345

Nishan Burkart

Was a live wire for United in the defeat and never seemed to give up trying to break through. Sadly it did not change the scoreline for United.

12345

Substitutes

George Tanner

Replaced Barrett 45'. Did what he needed to do, got involved. City were too strong for United.

12345

Dylan Levitt

Replaced Puigmal 65'. Got involved in the game, but the match was lost at the end of the first half.

12345

Millen Baars

Replaced Chong 65'. Got stuck in from the moment he came on and helped to inspire attacks, but it didn't work for United.

12345

Report: Frustrated Manchester United beaten 4-1 by Manchester City

Manchester United were beaten 4-1 by Manchester City in the first derby in the Premier League U18 this season. Tahith Chong put United a goal up in the sixth minute of the match, but City equalised two minutes later. It was a bad day in Manchester for United, who have lost their top spot in the U18 league, and with City having two games in hand, two wins will put some distance between the two sides.

Kieran McKenna made a few changes from the team which started against Blackburn Rovers last weekend with Tahith Chong starting after recovering from injury. United started the match in good stead, breaking forward and gaining possession. In the sixth minute, Chong put United ahead with some good interplay, launching his effort into the roof of the net which was a perfect start for United in the first U18 derby of the season. United’s lead lasted less than two minutes after City equalised in the seventh minute through Keyendrah Simmonds.

United have looked bright, despite losing their lead quickly. Nishan Burkart has had quick glimpses of pace and Chong had shown that his injury was over with his return to form. United, in the first twenty minutes, had given City a game, which cannot be said in recent seasons; last season this fixture was a 2-0 defeat for United. Aiden Barlow had been a handful for City and in the 21st minute, he launched a long-range effort with the City goalkeeper sending the ball out for a corner, taken by Angel Gomes.

The corner went straight to Arnau Puigmal, who flicked the ball to Barlow, who then attempted another shot which was wide of the target. City took the lead in the 28th minute of the match with Colin Rosler finding the back of the net after being set up by Doyle. United now had a lot to do to get back into the game or seeing their unbeaten run undone by their local rivals. City had another chance in the 31st minute of the match, heading the shot over the crossbar which could have put the home side 3-1 up in the match.

United had the chance to create something with Burkart on the ball, he then passed to Puigmal, who could not keep hold of the ball with City regaining possession and pressing United. Chong was fouled with City giving away a free-kick just behind the halfway line and United were seeking to get forward, passing to the flank but City regained possession and broke forward, messing up on the attack with Alex Fojticek gathering the ball. City won the ball again and Felix Nmecha had the chance to score again, the attempt being thwarted.

Gomes won a free-kick in the 35th minute of the match with United still chasing the game. City won possession again and seemed to be bossing the game and pressuring United at every opportunity. Lee O’Connor stood firm with City on the attack, making a clearance to deny City another goalscoring opportunity. In the 37th minute, Gomes dropped into a deeper role to get some influence on the game, sending the ball forwards to Burkart, who broke away from his man but could not get a shot on goal.

United won a penalty after Chong was fouled in the box, which gives United the lifeline to leveling the score. It was Jeremie Frimpong who committed himself to the challenge and gave the penalty away. It was Gomes who took the penalty, sending his shot over the crossbar in a poor attempt to level the score. City, on the ball, gained ground and had another opportunity to open a two-goal cushion in the match, which is down to a lot of poor play by United. Simmonds scored his second goal in the 40th minute, sending City 3-1 up and cruising to victory.

Five minutes of the first half remained with United 3-1 down and pushing forward to try to reduce the deficit. Chong seemed to be fouled at the edge of the box, which was not given, but seconds later a foul was committed, a free-kick was given, with United seeking a goal back before the break. Barlow played a good pass forwards, it unable to reach Puigmal with City regaining possession only for United to get involved and pushing forward again. Barlow, Chong, and Puigmal were in a position to get something from this attack, City defending well as Barlow whipped the ball in to no avail.

The tempo of the match slowed as the break approached and United’s chances were few and far between. City still seemed good on and off the ball, pressuring United at every opportunity. The half ended 3-1 with United needing a big effort in the second half to earn something from the game. Tahith Chong was lively in the half, showing his class after his return from injury, but there were not many bright spells for United.

McKenna made a change at the start of the second half with George Tanner replacing Jake Barrett. United seemed to be missing something to take this City side on. On the positive side, Burkart seemed to be a bit of magic United needed, his pace, ability on the ball and fearless approach was starting to show but City were still too dominant in the match for United to get in and score. IN the 58th minute of the match United seemed to be getting somewhere with Burkart and Puigmal on the attack, City recovering and denying United from scoring.

Seconds later, Puigmal was through but could not get anything for his club. After City changed the way of the attack, Gomes passed to Puigmal with United breaking forward, eventually passing to Barlow, who fired his shot wide of the target but it was more positive play from United. Gomes and Rosler were both booked in the 63rd minute of the match after Gomes, seemingly frustrated, flew into a challenge, pushing the City player. McKenna then made two more changes with Millen Baars and Dylan Levitt replacing both Chong and Puigmal.

After the changes, United seemed a bit better with Baars getting involved in the game and using his pace and skills on the ball to pressure City. Gomes, seemingly ending his frustration, has shown glimpses of good play as United still look to recover from being two goals down after taking the lead early in the match. City were pegged back in to their own half, but it did not work well for United as City, on the counter, pressured United before they regained possession.

Gomes seemed to be aiming to inspire something for United, sending Burkart into the box, the pair unable to get a goal back for United. Baars, on the pitch for five minutes, is starting to become that player that United needed from the start of the game. It was all over for United in the 73rd minute of the match after City took their corner and the ball was headed into the back of the net by to captain, Eric Garcia, having another free header on target. United have been undone by their own incompetence.

There was plenty of frustration with United behind and the referee not giving a handball as a City player used his hand to stop United from breaking through. With eight minutes remaining, United were still 4-1 down but trying to get something from this game. Using Tonga in the Rugby League World Cup could be good inspiration as they scored three tries in the final six or seven minutes against England this morning.

Time was running out for United, despite the chances they had created, which came to nothing. In stoppage time, United won a free-kick in a dangerous position, but still being 4-1 down, any goal was not going to make an impact in the match. Gomes took the free-kick with O’Connor at the far post, close to scoring. It does not feel like a 4-1 defeat as United, despite being overrun by City, have not been completely thrashed, looking good in some attacks. Decisions not going their way were part of the problem. The match ended 4-1 with City taking first blood in the Manchester derby.

United will take a break from the Premier League U18 for nearly a fortnight, playing their next match on Saturday 9th December against fourth-placed Liverpool at home. Next week though, United will face Wolverhampton Wanderers in the U18 Premier League Cup at the Sir Jack Hayward Training Ground needing a victory after falling to a 1-0 defeat in the last game against Stoke City, winning the first, a 4-3 thriller, against Arsenal earlier in the season.

Goals: Tahith Chong 6′

Manchester United: Fojticek; Laird, Barrett (Tanner 45′), O’Connor, Williams; Garner, Barlow; Puigmal (Levitt 65′), Gomes, Chong (Baars 65′); Burkart

Substitutes Not Used: Carner, Bughail-Mellor

copyright: JW