Which young players could get a chance at Manchester United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer? - (2021)
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was given his first taste of management at Manchester United as a youth coach. Winning trophies back in his previous coaching involvement at the club, as well as his work with young players in Norway, means Solskjaer understands the process of shining gems and helping prospects develop to the point where they are useful in a first-team environment.
Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna, who both worked as assistant coaches under Jose Mourinho, have been watching the club's youth sides this season in the hope of promoting talents which are ready for first-team experience.
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United's under-18 side ended Chelsea's FA Youth Cup unbeaten dominance this week, a run which had extended some five years. A 4-3 victory against one of the strongest academies in the country shows that there is serious quality within the Red Devils' youth ranks, with the arrival of Solskjaer providing a great chance for teenage talents to make a good impression.
Aidan Barlow (18) has had a chance to train with the first team in recent months, while the likes of Josh Bohui (19), Ethan Hamilton (20) and Ro-Shaun Williams (20), among others, got a chance to travel with Mourinho's squad during pre-season. There are plenty of other names besides.
Here are four youth players who could come into the first-team picture at United.
Versatile and excellent on the ball, Angel Gomes could be a useful addition in many areas of the field. Solskjaer favours an attacking style of play where his personnel are asked to create and want possession, which could see Gomes slot into a lot of different roles.
Comfortable featuring out wide to threaten in the final third, or in the middle of the park to get his foot on the ball, the teenager would be a useful squad player capable of coming off the bench in many different scenarios.
Technically gifted and capable of beating men in one-versus-one situations, Gomes is an exciting option.
Nicky Butt: “Angel has got the ability to play pretty much anywhere. He's a footballer so everyone automatically thinks he's an attacker but we like him in the pivot role to set up play and get the ball moving.”
One of the heroes from United's FA Youth Cup triumph against Chelsea, on a night where he netted a hat-trick, Mason Greenwood is a name that many fans will already be very familiar with. Chosen to join the first-team squad for a Champions League visit to the Mestalla this month, it shows that the club are aware that further experience of being around top players is needed to help him settle in.
Top scorer last season in the under-18 Premier League North, Greenwood has come closest to a senior debut out of all of the youngsters that Mourinho has had in and around his group in recent months. He has goals in his blood.
At a time where Romelu Lukaku is out of form and Alexis Sanchez is sidelined due to injury, the 17-year-old could be due a chance sooner than he envisaged.
Brandon Williams, United under-18 captain: “He's a special player… Everyone is to be honest, but Mason gives you that extra quality and if you need a goal then he'll come up with one.”
Already a captain for England at youth level, James Garner travelled alongside Mason Greenwood on United's recent European away trip to the Mestalla. Boasting leadership qualities and the ability to make his presence felt throughout the midfield third, the teenager might provide some much-needed character at a time where United's dressing room is receiving constant criticism.
Comfortable in possession and offering the composure required to play in a side that like to have a lot of the ball, Garner would certainly fit Solskjaer's blueprint should the former Norway international want his new squad to play in a more aesthetically pleasing manner than the Mourinho era.
Given that the teenager sees Carrick as his role model, there is nowhere better for him to be.
Pacy and capable of causing problems in wide areas with his skill and acceleration, Chong already got a taste of the first-team environment when he was named on the bench for United's recent Champions League visit to face Juventus in Turin.
The Dutchman won the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award in 2018, before spending time with the first-team group in America last pre-season.
As Solskjaer looks to breathe some life and confidence back into United, the presence of a confident, talented player with pace to burn would be an inclusion that an expectant Old Trafford crowd could get behind.
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