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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.

Rise To Fame: Callum Gribbin – once compared to Ryan Giggs but he wants to be himself!

Salford-born Callum Gribbin has continued his rise to fame at Manchester United, making his breakthrough into the U23’s last season. This season, after recovering from injury, Gribbin will be expected to continue his development into the star he could be – whether that is for United or beyond, nobody knows. Gribbin has been highly rated for the last few years and has played with many of the young and talented players expected to make their own way towards United first team in the years to come.

Gribbin is a versatile midfielder, capable of playing in a central role, on the left, right or even behind the striker. He started his time in United’s U18 side in the 2014/15 season, making 25 appearances (22 of them starts), scoring five goals and assisting a further five. The player also made a substitute appearance for the U21’s that season, seeing him play a total of 26 times. In the summer of 2015, Gribbin was wanted by Liverpool and Manchester City, he decided to remain at United, sign what was reported as a four-year contract.

During the 2015/16 season, Gribbin played 26 times for the U18, all starts, scoring five goals and assisting a further four. He also played six times for the U19’s, scoring once and assisting a further goal. Gribbin also played once, as a substitute, for the U21’s. In total, Gribbin made 33 appearances, scoring six goals, assisting a further five. The teenager had shown his ability in all three age groups in the Academy, which will continue to see him rise through the ranks on his quest to reach the first team.

Gribbin only played seven times (six starts and one substitute appearance) for the U18’s in the 2016/17 season, scoring six goals and assisting a further goal. United were not involved in a competition at U19 level that season. The player also made more appearances for the now U23’s. starting 12 times, also coming off the bench twice. Gribbin scored once and assisted a further two goals at this level, showing his ability even more. In total, he made 21 appearances, scored seven goals and assisted three more that season.

During the summer of 2017, Gribbin suffered a fractured fibula during pre-season, which was unfortunate for him. The 18-year-old was tipped to return to action in the Premier League International Cup fixture with Athletic Bilbao, he did coming on in the 80th minute of the match for Zak Dearnley – United won the match 2-1. So far this season, Gribbin has started twice for the U23’s, coming off the bench on three more occasions – scoring once and not yet making an assist. It will be a big season for him, especially after losing ground to injury on the eve of the season.

Last season, U18 coach Kieran McKenna, who had many talented players, spoke highly of Gribbin, talking about his experience, his technical skills and his great eye for a pass, saying:

“Another experienced boy who is similar to Ro-Shaun Williams in terms of his experience at this level. He will be quite well-known to the United fans who might have seen a little bit of him. He is a fantastic technician with a really good eye for a pass. 

“What has been pleasing is he’s starting to add to the physical side of his game and is becoming more powerful and dynamic. Also, his attitude to his defensive work and responsibilities is improving all the time. If he can marry those things up, with his talent on the ball, he can have a really bright future.”

During the busy festive period, Gribbin, who had recently turned 19 was called up to train with Jose Mourinho’s first team. The player trained longer than some of his peers from the Academy level, which led to reports he was to be selected as part of the squad to face Southampton in the Premier League. United drew 0-0 at Old Trafford and Gribbin played no part in the match, not even being named on the bench for his club.

It is clear that speculation will continue to be rife in the world of football. Tosin Kehinde was training with United’s first team late last year and there was similar speculation that the Nigerian-born midfielder could make his debut, not being included in the matchday squad. Gribbin is a talented player but he has not played in any of the recent U23 matches; the 4-0 defeat to Arsenal and the 3-0 defeat to West Ham United, last playing in the 1-1 draw with Leicester City on the 18th December 2017, scoring United’s only goal of that match.

It is not known as to why Gribbin has not played the last two fixtures for the U23’s but with the next match against Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on Monday evening (29th January 2018), if he is fully fit, Gribbin could be back in the squad, which has recently been boosted by the promotion of Angel Gomes, Josh Bohui and Nishan Burkart, which could see the U23’s start to perform this season, or face relegation to Division 2 of the Premier League 2 with Spurs at rock bottom with nine points from 14 matches, United in 11th place with 11 points after the same number of matches.

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.

Ratings: Tosin Kehinde the Man of the Match in Everton draw

Manchester United draw 0-0 with Everton in the Premier League 2 at the MerseyRail Community Stadium on Monday evening. Callum Gribbin was the closest player to find the back of the net in the draw, which will be seen as a positive result on the road. United play Celtic in the Premier League International Cup on Saturday, a break from the Premier League 2 until Monday 11th December when they face Swansea City away.

The match ended 0-0, a good point on the road, but things need to change if United are to turn their fortunes at this level. United play in the Premier League International Cup against Celtic on Saturday, giving them a rest from league action, but three matches undefeated will be seen as a bonus with United heading in the right direction.

United will be able to take some positives from this result, which could send them in the right direction with key fixtures in the coming month which could see the club rise in the Premier League 2 table. Tosin Kehinde was for me, the Man of the Match again, taking this league by storm in the last few matches, always putting in the effort and dropping back when his teammates need assistance.

Manchester United: O’Hara; Riley, Ercolani, Williams (Warren 23′), Mitchell; Sang, Scott; Dearnley (Gribbin 63′), Hamilton, Kehinde; Wilson

Substitutes Not Used: Richardson, Boonen, Bohui

Manchester United

Kieran O’Hara

Will be happy to have kept a clean sheet. Made some good saves and was commanding in his area. Was beaten once, but the shot was off target.

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Joe Riley

Was one of the stand out players in this match. Defending well and getting forward for a lot of the game. Seemed like the Duracell bunny towards the end of the match, still able to keep running.

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Luca Ercolani

Had a good game in the centre of defence and has really adapted to this age group, playing to the best of his abilities, especiall against Everton.

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Ro-Shaun Williams

Unfortunate to suffer an injury in the 23rd minute of the match, which was the end of the game for Williams.

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35 Demetri Mitchell

Had a good game, but did not really get involved all that much. Needs to get stuck in and help his team, not that he doesn't do that already, but some of his teammates did a lot better than him tonight.

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Thomas Sang

Played well for United in his midfield role. Did what was needed at times, especially where United needed a commanding midfielder to break down the play, Sang proving to be effective in the game.

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Charlie Scott

Played well and partnered superbly with Sang. Broke forward and tried to help his team capitalise when attacking. It didn't work for United, but a point is better then no points

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Zachary Dearnley

Struggled to get into the game early in the match with Everton having two good chances. The game opened out for United and Dearnley, but he was replaced by Gribbin in the 63rd minute.

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Ethan Hamilton

God stuck in and tried to help Wilson find some space and get in with some shots on goal. Hamilton was unlucky not to score himself.

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Tosin Kehinde

My Man of the Match for the second game in a row. The Nigerian-born attacking midfielder did what he needed to do and more. Attacked, defended and generally got stuck in to the game. A great player to have in the team.

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James Wilson

Had chances but did not threaten the Everton defence and goalkeeper as much as he should have. Better than playing without a striker though. Needs to step up and find that form from a few years ago.

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Substitutes

Tyrell Warren

Replaced Williams 23'. Played well after being introduced in the 23rd minute. Did what he needed to do defensively and will be happy to have kept a clean sheet.

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Callum Gribbin

Replaced Dearnley 63'. Had the best chance in the game to take the lead for United. Was tricky on and off the ball and his set pieces were pretty good, despite not breaking the deadlock.

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Report: Manchester United draw 0-0 away to Everton in the Premier League 2

Manchester United draw 0-0 with Everton in the Premier League 2 at the MerseyRail Community Stadium on Monday evening. Callum Gribbin was the closest player to find the back of the net in the draw, which will be seen as a positive result on the road. United play Celtic in the Premier League International Cup on Saturday, a break from the Premier League 2 until Monday 11th December when they face Swansea City away.

Ricky Sbragia named a strong enough side to take on Everton in the Premier League 2 this evening. James Wilson led the line, Man of the Match against City, Tosin Kehinde kept his place with United seeking a return to winning ways in the league, aiming to distance themselves from the bottom half of the table, sitting tenth in the league with nine points ahead of kick off.

United did not start the match in the best of ways with Everton having chances through Bassala Sambou in the fourth and seventh minutes with Kieran O’Hara making the save for the first and the Everton player shooting over the target in the second attempt. In the twelfth minute, United had a free-kick close to the edge of the box with Joe Riley looping his effort into the box and United trying to prevail through Ethan Hamilton, failing to cause any damage to the Everton defence.

The resulting corner was dealt with effectively by the home side also, resulting in a goal kick which started the game again. In the 16th minute of the match, Charlie Scott was booked for a challenge, which pushed Everton forward with James Wilson winning the ball and pushing forward to break for United, which resulted in Everton winning the ball again.

In the 18th minute, Luca Ercolani was winded by a challenge and needed a minute for some treatment before coming back on. It was still 0-0 with Everton having the chances, United playing well so far, aiming to get themselves into the game with a goal. Two minutes later, Everton had a shot on goal through Josh Bowler from outside of the box, but O’Hara made the save.

Ro-Shaun Williams was replaced by Tyrell Warren in the 23rd minute due to injury, which was unfortunate for United. United and Everton were both playing end to end football after the substitution, both teams looking to take the lead in the match, which was not coming from anywhere. In the 40th minute, Bowler had another attempt, sending his shot over the crossbar.

United had a chance a minute later after some good play on the attack. Wilson had the resulting shot, which rattled the side netting. There were two minutes of added time at the end of the first half, ending 0-0 with United needing to do a lot to get one over this Everton side, who had been playing well and had all of the chances, Sambou the play of the first half.

Neither side made a change during the break, United’s substitution the only one in the match so far. It was Bowler who had the first chance of the second half with a good run on the ball, beating his man with his chance on goal bounding past the post. United won a free-kick through Kehinde in the 51st minute of the match, Wilson was lurking but nothing came of the attack as Ethan Hamilton lashed wide.

Everton made their first change in the 57th minute of the match with Fraser Hornby replacing Bowler. United made their second change with Callum Gribbin replacing Zak Dearnley in the 63rd minute with United seeking some impressive play to take command of this fixture, with all to take from the game at this stage. United won a free-kick in the 64th minute after a challenge on Demetri Mitchell.

United won a corner in the 67th minute after a good drive forward. Gribbin took the corner but it was too close to the near post and Everton regained possession and broke forward, sending the ball out of play for a United throw-in inside their own half. Everton were not the same side after Bowler was replaced, which was a good sign for United, their chance to take charge of the fixture.

Everton made their second change in the 74th minute with Nathan Broadhead replacing Sambou, who was not happy to be taken off with the game still not having a clear winner. In the 75th minute, with Everton on the attack, Warren made a great stop to deny the home side from taking the lead. In the 79th minute, after a positive attack from United through Riley and Hamilton, the latter had a shot on goal, the Everton goalkeeper making the save.

Everton made their final change in the 80th minute with Harry Charsley replacing Antony Evans. After the change, United were on the attack through Gribbin, who unleashed his effort, which was curling, into the middle of the goal, the effort was denied by the goalkeeper with United winning a corner, which came to nothing. Moments later, Gribbin was attacking again, with the help of Wilson and Kehinde, an attack which came to nothing.

With less than five minutes of normal time remaining, Everton had a good attack which resulted in a pinball with them trying to scramble a goal, United eventually clearing the ball. Everton had another chance in the 89th minute, which would have seen O’Hara stranded, but it missed the target, luckily for United.

Three minutes were added to the end of the match, in the first minute, United had a chance through Wilson, who broke forward but could not get the better of Everton to find the back of the net. Everton then broke forward with Kehinde back defending, making the clearance meaning Everton had to start their attack again. With 90 seconds to go, Everton nearly scored, the shot just wide of the target.

The match ended 0-0, a good point on the road, but things need to change if United are to turn their fortunes at this level. United play in the Premier League International Cup against Celtic on Saturday, giving them a rest from league action, but three matches undefeated will be seen as a bonus with United heading in the right direction.

Manchester United: O’Hara; Riley, Ercolani, Williams (Warren 23′), Mitchell; Sang, Scott; Dearnley (Gribbin 63′), Hamilton, Kehinde; Wilson

Substitutes Not Used: Richardson, Boonen, Bohui

Confirmed Starting XI: Wilson leads the line against Everton; Kehinde, Riley & Mitchell start

Manchester United U23’s face Everton in the Premier League 2 at the MerseyRail Community Stadium in Southport this evening. United, fresh from their 1-1 draw with Manchester City last weekend, will be seeking a return to winning ways, sitting in tenth place in the league, with just nine points on the board. Everton sit in third place, eight points off the top spot, held by Liverpool at this stage of the season. United have not been in the best form in this league, losing three, drawing once and winning one of their last five matches. Ricky Sbragia, on his first season back at the club, has not seen his team play to their abilities with many passengers at this level at the club.

Manchester United:

O’Hara;

Riley, Ercolani, Williams, Mitchell;

Sang, Scott;

Dearnley, Hamilton, Kehinde;

Wilson

Substitutes:

Richardson, Warren, Gribbin, Boonen, Bohui

United will not be able to win the Premier League 2 this season, sitting 18 points adrift of the summit of the table with ten matches played so far this season. Relegation is still an option with goal difference and a point stopping United from sitting right at the bottom of the table. United’s players at this level will need to stand up and be counted if they are to turn the season around, which seems unlikely after the recent performances.

Ratings: Tosin Kehinde the Man of the Match in draw with Manchester City

Manchester United draw 1-1 with Manchester City at Leigh Sports Village on Saturday afternoon. James Wilson put United ahead in the 21st minute of the match and had chances to build on that lead. City equalised at the start of the second half, just after United should have gone 2-0 up, by Ethan Hamilton’s effort was ruled out for offside.

There were some controversial decisions made by the referee with a handball and penalty in the first half and possibly another sending off in the second which were not given. This was a point for United, one they needed but one which won’t change their position greatly at this stage of the season.

James Wilson put United ahead in the 21st minute of the match with a sublime finish. Minutes later, United should have had a penalty after Ethan Hamilton saw his shot forced out by the hand of Tosin Adarabioyo only for the referee to give a corner. It should have been a penalty and a red card for City though. United failed to get anything from the corner.

The first half ended with United still in command of the fixture, seeking a win which would bring them up to the mid-table zone from the bottom. Wilson and Hamilton combined at the start of the second half with United finding the back of the net through Hamilton. The goal was disallowed by the referee for offside with United still having one goal to the good.

City then equalised minutes later through Lukas Nmecha which restored the game level with City turning up in the second hard and turning the pressure on United. City seemed the team most likely to score again, but United had stopped that, thus far at least. Wilson and Hamilton had some good interplay in trying to restore the lead for United, Wilson coming closest to scoring in the 68th minute, hitting his shot wide of the target.

United tried to get something from the game but a point will have to do. Changes were made late in the second half with Indy Boonen, Josh Bohui and Callum Gribbin all coming on to replace James Wilson, Charlie Scott and Zak Dearnley – but it was not enough for United to take command of the match and all three points.

Goals: James Wilson 21′

Manchester United: O’Hara; Riley, Ercolani, Williams, Mitchell; Sang, Scott (Boonen 83′); Dearnley (Gribbin 85′), Hamilton, Kehinde; Wilson (Bohui 83′)

Substitutes Not Used: Warren, M. Johnstone

Manchester United

Kieran O’Hara

Had little to do in the first half, but made a save to deny City. Conceded early in the second half. Made more saves to deny City from their winner.

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Joe Riley

Helped United defensively and in attack. Did what was needed which did not bring the much-needed victory. A positive performance.

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Luca Ercolani

Booked unnecessarily for a foul he won the ball in. Did well defensively.

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Ro-Shaun Williams

Tried to help United keep a clean sheet but was unlucky for that not to take place. Did what he could do during the match.

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35 Demetri Mitchell

Got forward at times and helped defend. Might need to work much harded to get on Mourinho's radar for the first team with left-back still up for the taking.

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Thomas Sang

Played well with Scott in the heart of midfield. Tried to shield his defensive teammates.

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Charlie Scott

Did what was needed and tried to do more. Played well with Sang in midfield and got forward at times. Replaced with seven minutes left.

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Zachary Dearnley

Played well until he was replaced by Gribbin five minutes from time. Got forward and helped create chances. Played well on the right.

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Ethan Hamilton

Should have won a penalty after his shot on goal, which could have doubled United's lead, was touched by a hand but only a corner given. Scored at the start of the second half, but it was disallowed for offside.

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Tosin Kehinde

Had one of his best matches to date. Creativity was good, running was quick and really helped his team get involved and take the challenge to City. His cutting in and dribbling was sublime. Man of the Match for me.

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James Wilson

Scored a decent goal in the 21st minute to put United ahead. Had opportunities to score again, failing to. Played well throughout the match. Replaced seven minutes from time.

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Substitutes

Indy Boonen

Replaced Scott. Got involved in the match ut perhaps too late to help United push for that victory.

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Joshua Bohui

Replaced Wilson. Had the chance to find the winner for United in the final few minutes of added time. Broke forward with a throughball and tried to set up his teammate but the City goalkeeper won the ball.

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Callum Gribbin

Replaced Dearnley. Had a five minute plus stoppage time cameo. Not enough time to influence the game.

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Report: James Wilson shone for Manchester United in draw with City

Manchester United draw 1-1 with Manchester City in the mini-derby in the Premier League 2. James Wilson put United ahead in the 21st minute with a sublime finish but United’s hard work was undone by Lukas Nmecha who equalised for City early in the second half. It was controversial for United with a penalty not given for a handball and possibly two red cards for City. United will be happy with the point though.

Ricky Sbragia fielded a strong side against Manchester City in the first mini-derby in the Premier League 2 this season. United started the match at rock bottom in the league and a victory would propel them to seventh – the position City started the match in. United started well, pushing their opponents to try to take advantage of the match.

United nearly took the lead through James Wilson in the 15th minute of the match, earning a corner, which Wilson tried to pounce on but the bounce on the ball made it hard to get a shot on goal. United looked confident going forward. In the 19th minute, Zak Dearnley won another corner for United after seeing his shot deflected over the crossbar. The corner came to nothing.

James Wilson put United ahead in the 21st minute being played through on goal and scoring from a tight angle and pegging City behind. United looked set to take this game from the off, but it all depends on whether City start to dig deep for the rest of the match and claim something.

United had some not so good chances to double their lead, nothing coming of any of them. In the 32nd minute, City had a shot through Phil Foden and Kieran O’Hara sent the ball out for a corner, the first for City today, which amounted to nothing. United were still on top with around eleven minutes before the break, still one goal to the good.

United had the chance to double their lead in the 36th minute with Tosin Kehinde and Wilson on the advance with Wilson passing to Ethan Hamilton, whose shot towards goal seemed to touch the unnatural hand of Tosin Adarabioyo for which the referee gave a corner, which should have been a penalty and possibly a red card. Nothing came of the corner other than more pressure for City to deal with.

Luca Ercolani, who was having a good game, slid in with a tackle on Lukas Nmecha, winning the ball. Then Nmecha went to ground with Ercolani being booked for the challenge which is pretty poor refereeing, especially after he gave nothing for the deliberate handball in the box minutes before. Three minutes were added on at the end of the half.

Wilson and Dearnley had the chance to get something in added time for United but were unable to get anything through the City defence, who seemed to have turned up after Wilson’s opening goal earlier in the first half. The first half ended with United still in control of the fixture but with all to play for in the second half.

At the start of the second half, Kehinde showed his skill by getting the better of five or six City players, with Wilson and Hamilton forward threatening and the pass was played with Hamilton finding the back of the net but the goal was disallowed for offside. Another decision in favour of City today but probably a correct one.

City forced the equaliser from the restart through Nmecha with a lovely finish, which will mean United need to get back on track or face losing today, which would be hard to take after going ahead and not being awarded a blatant penalty – not to mention the disallowed goal from moments ago.

City had the chance to take the lead in the 52nd minute of the match but O’Hara had it covered, collection the ball and sending United on their way forward with City winning possession and pressuring United – something which United needed to overcome, turning the tables on the side like they did throughout the first half of the match.

Joel Latibeaudiere was booked in the 54th minute of the match for a cynical foul on Kehinde who had beaten his first man, which won a free-kick for United – amounting to nothing for Sbragia’s boys who were looking to regain control of the fixture again. Latibeaudiere fouled Wilson in the 58th minute of the match, which was a yellow card offence yet nothing shown by the referee. It should have been the second red card of the game, in my opinion at least.

Foden had the opportunity to put City ahead but O’Hara made the perfect save and his defence cleared the threat. City were banging on the door with United pressured for much of the second half, which needs to change with United dishing out the pressure, then them seeming to change the game with another goal. City had another chance to gain something, it missing all City players in and around the box.

United had the chance to retake the lead in the 66th minute of the match with Charlie Scott putting pressure on City, not able to get the ball into the back of the net though. It was a good period by United, who were still in possession of the ball in City’s area but putting the ball out of play and City in possession to try to win the game themselves.

Wilson had the chance to restore the lead for United in the 69th minute after more good play from United. The English forward unleashed his shot which was off target, not really pressuring City despite causing them some problems throughout the match. Kehinde is a runner for Man of the Match today after his play throughout the match, dribbling well and running in and out of the space left vacant by City.

In the 83rd minute of the match, James Wilson and Charlie Scott were replaced by Indy Boonen and Josh Bohui.A minute or so later, Callum Gribbin replaced  Zak Dearnley with United seemingly looking to string enough together in order to find a second goal, or even play for the draw. United tried to get something late into the match, just before five minutes af added time were announced.

Bohui had a shot on goal inside the first minute of added time, cutting in from the left and striking his attempt from outside of the box. The City keeper saved his effort though and United were then on the defence with City seeking that winning goal – to no avail.

There was a bit of excitement at the end of the match with City banging on the door, threatening for a goal and United making the clearance and Bohui on the run. His pass did not meet his teammate with the City keeper getting the ball and sending City up the other end to threaten.

City were on top in the second half, with United on top for the first half, so it was a fair result at 1-1. Lots to think about from the game though, the penalty not given, two possible red cards and the disallowed goal, which could have changed it all for United.

Goals: James Wilson 21′

Manchester United: O’Hara; Riley, Ercolani, Williams, Mitchell; Sang, Scott (Boonen 83′); Dearnley (Gribbin 85′), Hamilton, Kehinde; Wilson (Bohui 83′)

Substitutes Not Used: Warren, M. Johnstone

Confirmed Starting XI: Wilson, Dearnley, Kehinde and Hamilton to lead the line against City

Manchester United will face Manchester City in the Premier League 2 at Leigh Sports Village this afternoon. It is the first match in the league for United since they beat Sunderland 1-0 at the end of October. United though, have played two matches in the Premier League International Cup beating Swansea City and Athletic Bilbao by the same 2-1 scoreline sandwiched either side of the international break. United sit at the bottom if the Premier League 2 with just eight points – which is something the teams above them have in common with eleventh to eighth all on the same number of points – goal difference separating them. City

United sit at the bottom if the Premier League 2 with just eight points – which is something the teams above them have in common with eleventh to eighth all on the same number of points – goal difference separating them. City are seventh in the league, a point ahead of United so it is fair to say they are not doing all that well at this level either. A win for United will propel the side from the bottom to mid-table – a defeat will make it much tougher for United to catch City up.

Manchester United:

O’Hara;

Riley, Ercolani, Williams, Mitchell;

Sang, Scott;

Dearnley, Hamilton, Kehinde;

Wilson

Substitutes:

Warren, M. Johnstone, Gribbin, Boonen, Bohui

United and City have a rivalry throughout all levels, the biggest one being at first team level. United though will take this game to the stocks, aiming to turn their season around with a scalping victory in the mini-derby, which could galvanise the side to get something out of the season – which is much needed with the U23’s stalling for the past few seasons.

Starting XI: Shaw and Wilson start for Manchester United U23’s against Tottenham Hotspur

Manchester United take on Tottenham Hotspur in their third Premier League 2 match of the season. United have started the season undefeated with a 1-0 victory over Leicester City just under a fortnight ago which was followed by a 1-1 draw with Swansea City on Monday evening. United’s U23’s will be looking for some stability under the guidance of Ricky Sbragia this season after underachieving last season, playing without a recognised striker. Luke Shaw is involved in the squad again in a bid to regain his fitness and fight for his place in the first team this season. James Wilson is back in contention too after his season from hell with his loan spell, ending in injury for him. Here are the starting XI’s for both teams this evening:

Manchester United:

Richardson;

Olosunde, Warren, Tuanzebe, Shaw;

Hamilton, McTominay;

Bohui, Boonen, Mitchell;

Wilson

Substitutes:

Sang, M. Johnstone, Whelan, Buffonge, Scott

Tottenham Hotspur:

Austin;

Eyoma, Tanganga, Brown, Bennetts;

Pritchard, Skipp, Amos;

Edwards, Tracey;

Sterling

Substitutes:

Loft, O’Reilly, Duncan, Shashoua, Marsh

United will be looking for a victory over Spurs again this evening in a bid to contend in this league this season. United lost out to Everton last season, who piped Manchester City to the title despite their all singing and all dancing Academy, which nobody seems to make it through to the first team, which equates to the need to buy four fullbacks in one summer after releasing most of the ones the club had. Poor business that, but that is what massive clubs do, aparently.

copyright: JW