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U23 Player Ratings – 2018/19 Season: Ercolani, O’Connor, Gomes and Chong the stars of the season at this level

Manchester United U23’s saw their season end back in April and it would be safe to say it was not the season they expected. After being relegated from the Premier League 2 Division One at the end of the 2017/18 season, it was expected that the squad would achieve promotion back to the top flight of the league but United finished sixth, much like the first team and endured a season which will not be reflected upon favourably.

At this level, the team only competed in the league and the Premier League International Cup, of which they reached the quarter-final stage after drawing against both Derby County (1-1) and PSV Eindhoven (0-0) but beating Paris Saint-Germain 3-0. They then faced Reading at the quarter-final stage, losing 3-1, therefore ending their run in the tournament, which was won by Bayern Munich.

It would be safe to say that next season, with a new influx of players coming up from the U18s and a new approach, it will be important that this side starts to show their footballing ability, earning a place back into the top flight of this league and possibly even working towards winning the Premier League Internationa Cup, however, that seems to be easier said than done.

Here are the player ratings for the entire 2018/19 season for each player to have represented United at least once in any of the competitions the club has played in; Premier League 2 and the Premier League International Cup. All ratings are out of ten stars; five being the level all players start out at during each game. If the player rates over five stars, they are doing well, less than five, they are not doing so well.

Paul Woolston: The oldest goalkeeper at this level at the age of 20, the Englishman played only three matches this season but only joined the club in November 2018 after being released by Newcastle United last summer. He made his debut for the club in January, keeping three clean sheets for his club. He could have the ability to prove himself at this level, be tested on loan next season or even work his way into the first team in the future. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Alex Fojticek: The 19-year-old Slovakian made just three appearances at this level during the season, still playing at U18 and U19 level. He conceded three goals, keeping one clean sheet for the U23s, only making his debut at this level back in January. Granted, he may have a way to go to feature more at this level but he is a talented goalkeeper who is willing to learn his trade. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Matej Kovar: The 18-year-old goalkeeper form the Czech Republic played the most matches out of all the goalkeepers at this level, making a total of 19 appearances at this level, also playing six times at U19 level. Of the 19 appearances at this level, Kovar kept a total of five clean sheets, conceding 26 goals. The first team might be a big step for him, considering the players he will be competing against so a loan spell could help his case. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Matthew Olosunde: The American U20 international has played for United during the course of four seasons now, making his way from U18 level into a mainstay at U23 level. This season, the 21-year-old was largely absent due to injury, making only five appearances at this level, which was a shame. He is a talented defender and can play at right-back and as a central defender. It could be a make or break summer for him. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tyrell Warren: The 20-year-old player is a bit or a utilitarian as he can play in a number of positions, including right-back, central defence and as a right winger. Warren made nine appearances for the U23s this season, not scoring or assisting a single goal. He was on trial at Bolton Wanderers in February and despite being praised by Jose Mourinho in 2016, it seems that this could well be the end of the road for him at United. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Max Taylor: The 19-year-old defender, formally known as Max Dunne, has been suffering from cancer and undergoing chemotherapy, which has kept him out of action this season. Back in February, United confirmed that the player had responded successfully to treatment and hopes to resume his playing career once more if he is able. As he has not played this season, it would be unfair to give him a rating but I decided to include him anyway, if only to update people who did not know.

Luca Ercolani: The 19-year-old Italian central defender has played 16 times this season; six times for the U19 and ten times for the U23s. I have high hope for this player as he seems to be able to defend superbly, at times. However, there has been some interest in the player from a host of Serie A clubs and the last thing reported was that United planned to give the lad a new contract. I do hope that happens. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Lee O’Connor: The 18-year-old Irish fullback-cum-midfielder is another talent in this squad. He has been on the cusp of the first team, training with them recently amid rumours that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would include many youth players in the final match of the season, which did not happen. O’Connor made a total of 25 appearances at U23 level, also playing seven times at U19 level, getting one assist for the U23s. He is a great talent and should not be overlooked by this club. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

George Tanner: The 19-year-old midfielder, who can also play at right-back, made 21 appearances at U23 level this season, adding a further three at U19 level. He assisted twice, not scoring a single goal so far at this level – in his fourth season at the club. Tanner was sent off against Sunderland in October but later had that card rescinded. Tanner signed his first professional contract in January 2018 and should be retained for the upcoming season, which could see him on the radar of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and play a part in the rebuild of the club, which will take a number of seasons to complete and stabilise. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

DJ Buffonge: The 20-year-old midfielder played 12 times for the U23s this season, scoring three goals. This was his third season playing in the U23s, although during the 2016/17 season, he was still playing at U18 level also. At stages this season, Buffonge has been training with the first team but has not made many waves at that level. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Callum Gribbin: The 20-year-old midfielder will probably not play for this club again, which is a shame. After a period of injuries, it has left him behind many young talents in the academy. Gribbin was a technically gifted player and represented the U23s twice from the bench this season. He will probably go on to have a career elsewhere and I wish him all the best. This happens many times at this club, sometimes it just does not work out. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Aidan Barlow: The 19-year-old midfielder has played 23 times this season; six times for the U19s, scoring three goals and one assist and 17 times for the U23, scoring once and assisting once. The player has represented United at U18, U19 and U23 level over the past five years and is considered to be one of the talents in the squad. He may have a lot of work ahead of him to break into the first team but that may not be beyond him. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Angel Gomes: This was his fifth season at academy level and perhaps needs to be challenged either in the first team or with a loan spell in order for him not to stagnate. The 18-year-old made 17 appearances at this level, scoring six goals and assisting a further eight. He got minimal chances in the first team and currently, according to rumour, is not happy at the club. Should emerge within the first team this summer by may need to make some changes to his physique, which will take time. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Joshua Bohui: The 20-year-old English winger made a total of 29 appearances in the U19s and U23s this season, making 25 appearances at this level. Bohui scored four goals, assisting a further five, also scoring twice in the UEFA Youth League. The player was included in the pre-season tour last summer and could find himself included against this summer. It is possible that he could even feature in the UEFA Europa League if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer chooses to include him in the squad. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tahith Chong: The 19-year-old Dutch international has played at U19, U23 and first team level this season, playing most of his football in the U23s. Chong made a total of 18 appearances in the U23s, scoring eight goals, assisting a further four. At U19 level, he played six times, scoring twice and assisting three more. He also made three first team appearances, from the bench, showing his ability in a declining first team squad who now have a lot to prove. The future could well be his. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Millen Baars: The 19-year-old Dutch winger only made three appearances at U23 level this season all from the bench. He scored just one goal. He arrived at United back in 2016 but was unable to play any matches that season because his international clearance had not gone through. The 2017/18 season was the first he was able to play in. Injuries have not goe in his favour and it is likely that he may be able to leave this summer to try and rebuild his career, which is a shame. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Nishan Burkart: The 19-year-old has spent three seasons at United now and has moved from the U18/U19 level into a mainstay in the U23 squad, which is a great challenge for him. This season, the Swiss forward made 15 appearances, scoring six goals and assisting a further four more. It may be a big step to reach the first team but looking at the problems there, it could also be the best time to get Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to notice him if that is the level he wants to reach. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The likes of Mason Greenwood, Diogo Dalot, Andreas Pereira, Sergio Romero, Marcos Rojo, Di-Shon Bernard and more also played at this level during the course of the season but these players had already been rated at first team or U18 level, which included excerpts about their appearances at this level, so I did not include them here. There were also players who spent much of or part of the season on loan, they will be rated in a separate article.

This coming season will be important for this age group, some of which will find themselves in the first team, others may be loaned out of even leave the club completely. However, with talent always coming up through the ranks, these players will be replaced and they will earn the opportunity to propel their careers in the right directions, should that be what they endeavour.

Ratings: Harrop, Redmond and Mitchell bright sparks against Sparta Prague

Manchester United made it two wins in two matches in the Premier League International Cup, beating Sparta Prague at leigh Sports Village on Thursday evening. United had previously beaten Villarreal in the tournament earlier in the season, with Josh Harrop, one of the goal scorers this evening, scoring the only goal of the match. Devonte Redmond was United’s other goalscorer against the Czech side, putting United in the driving seat in the group, ahead of next week’s clash with Middlesbrough to head the group after three matches. United have played some good football at this level this season, despite playing without an out-and-out striker, seeing the liked of Scott McTominay, Devonte Redmond, Matty Willock and others lead the line at times. United will be up for the challenge in their last match of 2016 in a weeks time, one which will give them something to aim for next season, being that their performances in the league have not been too good. Nicky Butt will guide the side to aim for the top spot next week, although they could still qualify as one of the best runners up next week if the worst comes to the worst.

Goals: Josh Harrop 21′, Devonte Redmond 56′

Manchester United: O’Hara; Olosunde (El Fitouri 78′), Tuanzebe, Poole, Mitchell; Willock, Goss; Harrop, McTominay, Kehinde (Gribbin 68′); Redmond (Scott 68′)

Substitutes Not Used: M. Johnstone, Doughty, Buffonge, Warren

Manchester United

Kieran O’Hara

Had a good game in goal with not a lot to do. Seemed to deal with everything that he had to get involved in.

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Matthew Olosunde

Played well on the right with United more than enough for he visitors, who just did not test United enough. The American was replaced by El Fitouri with 12 minutes remaining.

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38 Axel Tuanzebe

Composed and confident display. Got forward at times, pushing the visitors in order to see United prevail. Star in the making.

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Regan Poole

Dominant in defence and did his bit going forward with United pressing forward.

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35 Demetri Mitchell

Assisted in United's second goal, playing well in the left-back role, despite playing further forward for much of the game.

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Matty Willock

Commanding in midfield and strong on the ball. Had his moments in the match. Usually plays further forward, or has this season. Good to see him in the heart of defence.

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Ratings: Harrop, Redmond and Mitchell bright sparks against Sparta Prague

Had some good moments in the match, helping control the game in midfield, which seemed to be where United were stifling their oposition.

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Ratings: Harrop, Redmond and Mitchell bright sparks against Sparta Prague

Scored United's first goal in the 21st minute, breaking forward, staying onside, rounding the keeper for a cool finish. Looked to had injured himself soon after, but was fine to continue.

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39 Scott McTominay

One of the players who can play many different positions and does so to the best of his abilities to help his team.

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Tosin Kehinde

Played well on the left side of the attack, not always getting involved, but doing his bit. Replaced by Gribbin with just over twenty minutes remaining.

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Devonte Redmond

Scored United's second goal with a great finish after being assisted by Mitchell. Had a good game as United furthest forward player, which will instill confidence ahead of next weeks clash with Boro. Replaced by Scott in the 68th minute.

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Substitutes

Charlie Scott

Replaced Redmond. Unlucky not to score United's third goal of the evening. Had a good game.

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Callum Gribbin

Replaced Kehinde. Saw upset on Monday in the FA Youth Cup, but was on the winning team tonight. Played well in his twenty minute cameo.

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Ratings: Harrop, Redmond and Mitchell bright sparks against Sparta Prague

Replaced Olosunde. Helped United steer home the win. Had little influence in the game other than that.

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Report: Harrop and Redmond score to send Sparta Prague packing

Manchester United beat Sparta Prague 2-0 at Leigh Sports Village on the Premier League International Cup with Josh Harrop and Devonte Redmond scoring the goals, sending their Czech opposition home tired and needing a break after playing two matches in two days.

Nicky Butt named a strong side to face the Czech team this evening with Kieran O’Hara in goal, Matthew Olosunde, Axel Tuanzebe, Regan Poole and Demetri Mitchell making up the back four, Sean Goss and Matty Willock in midfield, Josh Harrop, Scott McTominay and Tosin Kehinde all playing behind Devonte Redmond. United started the game in good stead, getting forward to get something from the tie. Sparta Prague were doing the same thing, even though they cannot win the group or become one of the highest placed runner’s up in the tournament.

United took the lead on the 21st minute through Josh Harrop, the scorer of the goal earlier in the season against Villarreal, breaking through on goal, with the flag staying down, rounding the keeper and putting United ahead in the match. United continued to play well after their goal, but Harrop seemed to be carrying an injury, which will not be a good night for him, being his birthday and all. Devonte Redmond almost put United two goals to the good with ten minutes of the first half remaining, but his target was not a precise as it may well have been.

The first half of the match ended with United still in the lead through Harrop’s goal in the 21st minute, but it could have been doubled. United started the second half well, looking to secure their lead and bee in with a good chance of making the next round of the competition despite having to play Middlesbrough for the top spot in the group. In the 56th minute, Redmond scored United’s second goal after being assisted by Demetri Mitchell with some great play on the attack. United were near enough on their way to victory with the visitors seemingly out of the match.

In the 68th minute of the match, Butt made two changes with Charlie Scott and Callum Gribbin replacing Redmond and Kehinde. United sit in the top spot in the group at this moment in time, being two goals to the good and not conceding. Middlesbrough has played twice and won twice, scoring two goals, so United have a better goal difference ahead of next week’s clash. In the 78th minute, Butt made his final substitution with Sadiq El Fitouri replacing Olosunde. United were home and dry, but still carried on trying to ensure the effort was but in right to the end of the match, which seemed to be what Butt was ordering them to do from the sidelines. United ended the match, their second in this tournament was the winners, meaning next week’s match will determine who wins the group.

Goals: Josh Harrop 21′, Devonte Redmond 56′

Manchester United: O’Hara; Olosunde (El Fitouri 78′), Tuanzebe, Poole, Mitchell; Willock, Goss; Harrop, McTominay, Kehinde (Gribbin 68′); Redmond (Scott 68′)

Substitutes Not Used: M. Johnstone, Doughty, Buffonge, Warren

CONFIRMED: Tuanzebe, Poole, Goss and Harrop start against Sparta Prague

Manchester United U23’s face Sparta Prague in the Premier League International Cup at Leigh Sports Village this evening. Earlier in the season, United beat Villarreal 1-0 in the tournament, facing the Czech side this evening and Middlesbrough in a weeks time in order to find a place in the next round of the competition. United’s U23’s have not been all that great this season, lacking goals and some inspiration from players with a bit more experience. Warren Joyce guided his side to victory over Villarreal, but since he left for the vacant manager’s position at Wigan Athletic, United have been led by Nicky Butt on a match day. United will be looking to beat the Czech side this evening, putting a foot into the next round of the competition. Over the past few weeks, United’s U23’s have been boosted by the likes of DJ Buffonge, Ethan Hamilton, Indy Boonen and Callum Gribbin who have risen from U18 level this season, giving the side something different to use against their opposition and also the younger players getting more experience at a tougher level. Here is the starting XI and list of substitutes this evening.

Manchester United:

O’Hara;

Olosunde, Tuanzebe, Poole, Mitchell;

Willock, Goss;

Harrop, McTominay, Kehinde;

Redmond

Substitutes:

El Fitouri, M. Johnstone, Scott, Doughty, Buffonge, Warren, Gribbin

Ratings: Manchester United 1-0 Villarreal – Premier League International Cup 2016/17

In the club’s first foray into the Premier League International Cup, Manchester United’s U23’s faced off against reigning champions Villarreal at what can now be called the youth side’s home ground of Leigh Sports Village. It was an impressive start to the tournament for the young reds against a far more experienced side as they won 1-0 thanks to a Josh Harrop goal, in which they then controlled the game expertly. Regan Poole, Ethan Hamilton and Charlie Scott had impressive performances whilst Axel Tuanzebe and Joe Riley continue to look above their current level. On the whole, though the side can be proud of the way in which they went about a match that was delayed by an hour due to weather and floodlight issues. Warren Joyce will be pleased his team could get the result they wanted, winning their first Premier League International Cup fixture against the current holders. United next face Sparta Prague in December.

Goals: Josh Harrop 34′

Assists: Ethan Hamilton 34

Manchester United: Johnstone; El Fitouri, Tuanzebe, Poole, Riley; Scott, McTominay; Redmond(Olosunde 46′), Willock, Harrop (Kehinde 80′), Hamilton (Mitchell 90+3′)

Substitutes Not Used: Henderson, Doughty, O’Connor

Here are the player ratings from the 1-0 victory over Villarreal in the Premier League International Cup:

Manchester United

40 Sam Johnstone

Johnstone did his job when called upon although he potentially could've been helpless for two of Villarreal's early chances as they got through United's defence twice in the first five minutes. He had no outstanding saves to make but that's no fault against the 23-year-old as he kept a clean sheet.

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Ratings: Manchester United 1-0 Villarreal – Premier League International Cup 2016/17

He was tidy in possession and was looking to move the ball around quickly in attack which contributed to United's upheld pressure on the Villarreal defence. However, he was suspect positionally and was fortunate that it didn't cost his side at different stages in the match.

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38 Axel Tuanzebe

The new captain at this level put in a performance typical of him at this level, superb defensively and superb on the ball, there's little more he could do to impress any further. Although his runs forward are nothing new, one that he made in this game saw Tuanzebe find himself in a promising position offensively, as a result of which he hit a cracking shot from 25 yards out which could easily have doubled United's tally.

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Regan Poole

This was one of Poole's best performances since joining the club last summer. Committed in the tackle and making important interceptions throughout the match, the Welshman was defending on the front foot and was completely successful in doing so. He was also comfortable in possession and wasn't afraid to venture out with the ball, much like his centre-back partner, this greatly contributed to the team building up from the back and maintaining control of the match.

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Joe Riley

Yet another lively game from fullback Joe Riley. A great run forward early on almost set up Willock for what would have been the opener; it was a lung busting effort which deserved an end product but sheer number of yellow shirts in the middle meant that this wasn't the case but this was a sign of what was to come from Riley as he continued to get forward throughout the whole match relentlessly. He also did his job defensively and didn't put a foot wrong all night.

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39 Scott McTominay

Strong both in the tackle and on the ball, McTominay is growing in stature in games and showing why central midfield is his best position as opposed to lone-ranger upfront. He rotated with makeshift striker Matty Willock well, swapping positions seamlessly throughout the 90 minutes although he could mainly be found performing box-to-box duties. He was brought down numerous times when getting forward, a tribute to how elusive he was, he'd have hoped for better end product on his runs forward but he did well nonetheless.

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Charlie Scott

Scott was comfortable on the ball in what was his first start at Under-23 level and he would've done no harm to his chances of getting more minutes from here onwards. In an unfamiliar wide right midfield position, he got forward well and contributed to attacks, rarely if ever lost possession and, vitally, covered for El Fitouri well on numerous occasions, showing that he still had his defensive head on.

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Devonte Redmond

It was another quiet game for the midfielder although he was part of a well-functioning midfield which shut down Villarreal's efforts for the most part. Positionally he looked much better than in previous matches and made a couple of good cross field passes but he'll still be looking to impose himself in matches more, both in regaining possession and breaking lines going up the pitch. He was taken off at half-time but it is unknown whether it was tactical or forced.

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Ratings: Manchester United 1-0 Villarreal – Premier League International Cup 2016/17

Harrop got his first goal in a long time with what proved to be the winner for the Under-23s, as he was played in by Ethan Hamilton and finished well with his left foot from what was a narrowing angle. He was booked for simulation in the first half but got on with the game and was influential in the final third for United, with winning the ball high up the pitch as well as creating chances.

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Ethan Hamilton

The standout player for United in what was his first start for the Under-23s. The Under-18 player got the assist for Josh Harrop's goal and it was a fitting reward for his efforts. Playing in left midfield, he was proficient in attack and should have had the second assist for Joe Riley late in the game to clinch it but the fullback skewed his effort. He recovered the ball well consistently in the game and his pressing was second to none on the pitch; Hamilton also showed good awareness positionally, picking opportune times to drift centrally and take advantage of the space ahead of him, which led to his most of his brightest moments in attack although he wasn't afraid to try to beat his man done the outside.

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Matty Willock

In an unusual role for him, Willock put in as could a performance as you could hope for. His hold up play was decent and he often managed to keep hold of the ball and lay it back to his onrushing supporters. He lacked the movement of a natural centre-forward which is to be expected but he played the false nine position well and allowed his teammates to have some promising moments running off of him, he also dropped into midfield at times which added a needed extra body. Was the most impressive player in the dying minutes of the game for United as he expertly killed off the match further up the pitch.

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Substitutes

Matthew Olosunde

On for Devonte Redmond. He came at half time and done a similar job to Redmond although he came under slightly less pressure. Remains to be seen where he is truly most comfortable on the pitch but he put in a decent performance.

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Tosin Kehinde

On for Josh Harrop. Was energetic in pressing the Villarreal back line when he came on but he had little time to do anything on the ball as United looked to hold the game out.

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35 Demetri Mitchell

On for Ethan Hamilton. Only had little over a minute on the pitch.

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Report: Manchester United 1-0 Villarreal – Premier League International Cup 2016/17

Manchester United’s U23’s played their first ever Premier League International Cup match at Leigh Sports Village on Tuesday evening as they faced last year’s champions, Villarreal. United made one change to the team which drew with Manchester City in their last game with 17-year-old Ethan Hamilton making his first U23 start as he replaced Demetri Mitchell. There was also a place on the bench for 16-year-old Lee O’Connor who has impressed for the under 18’s since joining the club from Irish side Villa F.C. this summer.

After an hour delay due to a power cut caused by bad weather in the area, the game kicked off and it was Villarreal who started better with Ié going close in the second minute but his shot flew wide after cutting in from the right. Villarreal went close again in the fourth minute but the attacker tried to pass the ball when clean through on goal and the chance went wide. United began to get to grips with the game following a difficult opening few minutes and had their first chance of the game in the 17th minute as Harrop won the ball in midfield and drove forward with the ball but dragged his 20-yard shot wide of the post.

Following a brilliant run down the left from Hamilton, the ball found its way to Harrop in the box who went down far too easily under a challenge but the referee waved away United’s appeals and booked Harrop. The game was becoming a really competitive affair with both sides flying into challenges with McTominay winning the ball back for United on a number of occasions and Poole making a couple of important interventions. United took the lead in the 34th minute as the impressive Hamilton won the ball in midfield and carried it forward before playing the ball to the overlapping Harrop who finished well with his left foot to make it 1-0.

Following the goal, Villarreal began to come forward a bit more and a couple of efforts from the edge of the box but Johnstone dealt with them comfortably. When Villarreal did manage to create an opportunity in the 42nd minute with a dangerous cross from the right-wing United’s captain Tuanzebe was in the right place to make the clearance. Villarreal then threatened again a couple of minutes later from a 25-yard free kick but Johnstone again saved comfortably. United went in at half time leading 1-0.

United went close to increasing their lead in the opening minute of the second half following good work from Hamilton and Harrop down the left the ball fell to Hamilton in the box but he was crowded out by defenders. Axel Tuanzebe has been praised a lot this season for his defensive work but showed he has the footballing ability to go with it in the 49th minute as he won the ball on the halfway line and drove forward with the ball before unleashing a powerful from 25 yards which the goalkeeper did well to push away before Tuanzebe’s effort from the rebound hit a United player in an offside position.

Villarreal threatened to get back into the game in the 59th as Ié won the ball on the right wing and fired in a dangerous cross but Poole did extremely well to adjust his body and knock the ball out for a corner. United were doing very well to deny Villarreal space in attack with Poole and Tuanzebe stepping in to win the ball back quickly on a number of occasions and Johnstone a virtual spectator for much of the half. Hamilton continued to cause problems for Villarreal down the left and United won their first corner of the match in the 73rd minute of the match from another of his runs.

Villarreal went close to a spectacular equalizer in the 75th minute as Raba’s effort from 40 yards had Johnstone beaten but was narrowly over the bar. They went even closer a minute later as Gonzalez was allowed too much space in the box and smashed a powerful shot past Johnstone which hit the inside of the post and flew across the goal but stayed out. Villarreal were putting a lot of pressure on United in the closing stages as their experience began to show. United responded by replacing Harrop with Kehinde in the 80th minute.

The change seemed to give United a renewed vigor as they got back on top in the game and went close to extending their lead in the 86th minute as Scott’s dangerous cross from a left-wing free-kick was punched up in the air by the goalkeeper and McTominay’s header was blocked on the line for a corner. United went close again in the 89th minute as Hamilton came forward again and found Riley on the overlap but his shot flew wide of the near post. Villarreal went close to 97th minute equalizer but Fernandez’s header flew narrowly wide. United held on to secure an impressive win with Poole, Tuanzebe, and Hamilton all excellent.

Goals: Josh Harrop 34′

Assists: Ethan Hamilton 34

Manchester United: Johnstone; El Fitouri, Tuanzebe, Poole, Riley; Scott, McTominay; Redmond(Olosunde 46′), Willock, Harrop (Kehinde 80′), Hamilton (Mitchell)

Substitutes Not Used: Henderson, Doughty, O’Connor

Starting XI: Manchester United v Villarreal – Premier League International Cup 2016/17

Manchester United U23’s face Villarreal for the very first time in the Premier League International Cup at Leigh Sports Village this evening. This is the first time United have entered this youth competition and it should be something which players learn from as they will be facing teams from other European leagues; Villarreal and Sparta Prague along with English side Middlesbrough. Warren Joyce has been left with a barebones squad with no out-and-out striker this season, which could change in January, or with the coach bringing players up from the U18 side, which should give those a much better challenge playing in an age group above theirs, which will also help with their development. Here are the starting XI’s and list of substitutes for both teams this evening.

Manchester United:

Johnstone;

El Fitouri, Tuanzebe, Poole, Riley;

McTominay;

Scott, Redmond, Harrop, Hamilton;

Willock

Substitutes:

Henderson, Olosunde, O’Connor, Kehinde, Doughty, Mitchell

Villarreal:

Femenias;

Ie, Bueno, Fernandez, Felipe;

Morlanes, Guerra;

Garcia, Raba, Lazo;

Gonzalez

Substitutes:

Perios, Cantero, Acosta, Lopez, Doffo, Cantelapiedra, Martinez

Preview: Manchester United v Villarreal – Premier League International Cup 2016/17

Leigh Sports Village, Leigh, Greater Manchester

Premier League International Cup

Tuesday 13th September 2016, KO 19:00 [Live on MUTV]

Manchester United U23’s play their first match in the Premier League International Cup this evening against Villarreal at Leigh Sports Village. The Spanish side is currently the holders of the cup and based on that could well be a challenge for Warren Joyce’s side. United have played four matches in the Premier League this season, winning once, losing once and drawing their last two matches against Chelsea and Manchester City. Joyce’s side has lost many players this summer with some being sold and others being loaned out for the whole season, or part of. A striker is the main thing that this United side is missing, with means that Joyce will have to look at the U18 squad, who have won their last three matches by scoring five goals in each, which after last season would be something that many could have only dreamed of. Joyce will have seen many players who are currently performing well, which may suggest they are finding that age level easy and need a challenge. Against City last Friday, Joyce promoted DJ Buffonge to his squad, also utilised Ethan Hamilton, who played from the bench against Chelsea.

Villarreal have a strong side at this level, winning the Premier League International Cup last season and will be looking to retain the cup this season. United will be up for the challenge too, not entering the cup before and it allowing their players to face some of the best invited teams to play in the competition from the continent. Joyce is a winner and strives to get the best from his players and playing some of the better youth teams in Europe this season could bring out something new in his players. Normally United’s player’s would not play in a competition like this and may only get the benefit of seeing how foreign teams play by being sent out on loan to one of them. Speaking to the official Manchester United website about the Premier League International Cup and holders Villarreal, Joyce said:

“It’ll be an interesting game. It will be a good test for us.

“Villarreal won it last year and, judging from the bits I’ve watched, the teams were quite old in their make-up and they all treated it like a proper competition really. This was particularly true of the foreign sides who often played almost their B teams, as they are called.

“I expect a tough game but a clever game, tactically, and we will have problems to solve. I anticipate them being older than us as well so it will be a proper test and should tick all the boxes you want for it to be a really good challenge for the boys as part of their education.”

Manchester United U23 Squad:

Manager: Warren Joyce

Goalkeepers: Sam Johnstone, Kieran O’Hara, Ilias Moutha-Sebtaoui

Defenders: Matthew Olosunde, Axel Tuanzebe, Ro-Shaun Williams, Regan Poole, Charlie Scott, Sadiq El Fitouri, Joe Riley

Midfielders: Scott McTominay, Tosin Kehinde, Josh Harrop, Sean Goss, Devonte Redmond, Matty Willock, DJ Buffonge, Ethan Hamilton

Forwards: Demitri Mitchell, Josh Doughty

Villarreal U23 Squad:

Manager: Paco López

Goalkeepers: Ander Cantero, Joan Femenías

Defenders: Edgar Ié, Felipe Alfonso, Maldo, José Peris, Juan Ibiza, Marcos Mauro, Miguelón, Pau Torres, Ramón Bueno

Midfielders: Agustín Doffo, Aitor Cantalapiedra, Anton Shvets, Daniel Raba, Javi García, Leo Suárez, Manu Morlanes, Pablo Larrea, Ramiro Guerra, Chuca

Forwards: Carlos López, Carlitos, Franco Acosta, Mario González

Manchester United U23 Form:- DDLWLL

Manchester City 1-1 D, Chelsea 1-1 D, Southampton 1-0 L, Leicester City 1-0 W, Oldham Athletic 1-1 (3-4 penalties) L [F], Port Vale 4-2 L [F]

Villarreal U23 Form:- WLDLWW

Sabadell 3-1 W, Barcelona II 3-2 L, Gavà 1-1 D, Cornellà 1-0 L, Olímpic de Xàtiva 5-1 W [F], Al Rayyan 3-0 W [F]

Predicted Starting XI:

Predicted Score:

Manchester United 2-1 Villarreal

copyright: JW