The Manchester United U21 have had some serious ups and downs since the last update from the American Red Devils. The side has played three matches since then and has 1 win, 1 draw, and 1 loss. The loss came at the hands of Blackburn 6-1. The humiliating loss was followed up by a 2-1 win over Barrow in the English Football League Trophy cup. Some positives can be taken away from the U21s over the last couple of weeks, but the lads are yet to find any form of consistency.
Manchester United U21: 1 – West Ham: 1 (9/16)
The last match of September was against West Ham in league play. United dominated the match overall, but left themselves very open on the counter. This led to a share of all 3 points. United controlled the possession at 71% and outshot West Ham 15-11, but their inability to finish chances or find good chances cost them.
Eric ten Hag was in attendance for this Match following the senior teams loss at Real Sociedad. Eric has been keen on promoting youth talent. This season he has promoted Zidane Iqbal, Charlie McNeil, Tyler Frederickson, Radek Vitek, Kobbie Mainoo, and Shola Shoretire to 1st team training. Charlie McNeil played well and certainly was as standout for Eric ten Hag.
United dominated the first 20 minutes of the match and should’ve scored. The team took way too many shots from outside the box and that was the story of the match. For all the possession and attacking domination they lacked invention. Shoretire came on for Savage in the second half, which did lead to more offense.
West Ham scored the opener against the run of play in the second half, but just seconds later Hansen Aarons shot was deflected and put home by Forson. United then went on to create more opportunities, including a header by McNeil that should’ve been finished off.
A decent performance but a frustrating result.
Manchester United U21: 1 – Blackburn 6 (10/1)
This was a dark day for the U21s indeed. Blackburn were on the front foot immediately and never let up. United did have a decent chance on the break though to take the lead, followed by a decent chance off the resulting corner. Blackburn then continued to pressure and scored the opener. Then Charlie McNeil had an empty net to fire at but missed. Blackburn then scored two more to go up 3-0.
At 3 goals down in the first half, Shola Shoretire got one back for United, but Blackburn looked unphased and continue to dominate. One of United’s major problems yet again was their insistence on strikes from outside the box. Meanwhile, their defense was an utter shambles to behold. Blackburn were up 5-1 by half time.
The second half was certainly better, but there isn’t much sense in analyzing a second half of football down 5-1. Blackburn would get one more goal before the end, which was scored off an excellent bicycle kick. The manager Mark Dempsey called the performance “unacceptable”, but went on to say he saw a good second half reaction with many chances. Which highlights another major problem for the U21s, their manager. Dempsey should not be looking for any salvation form that performance. Call it what it is and move on, burry the ball.
“If they learn from it, as their going on in their journey, then fine. IF they don’t learn from it then they’ll have problems, but that’ll be up to them”-Mark Dempsey
The Manager isn’t wrong, the players have to learn from this, but we can’t continue to play mediocre football and praise players for effort. U21s or not, these players are playing for the biggest football club in the world and their is no excuse for this type of performance. The mentality of the first team starts here. United’s U21s need to begin to find form.
Manchester United U21: 2 – Barrow 1 (10/4)
Finally United found a win. This 2-1 win over Barrow in the English Football League Trophy was far form perfect but what the team needed for sure. There were 3 changes to the side for this match form the last Football League match. The changes saw Vitek, Manu and Forson all brought off in favor of Savage, Pellistri, and Bishop. Fecudno Pellistri getting minutes may come as a shock to some United fans. We haven’t heard form the young Uruguayan for a good long while now.
Barrow had the majority of good chances in the 1st half and frankly throughout most of the match. But, it was United that went up first off of the Barrow keepers mistake. The keeper attempted to outplay Charlie McNeil on the ball as the striker pressured the keeper. McNeil won the ball and was immediately fouled leading to a penalty that he would finish off superbly.
The second half saw Barrow grab the equalizer off an own goal form a free kick. Barrow would go on to pressure United for a winner, but did leave themselves open on the counter. Garnacho had a decent chance off a lazy back pass by Barrow but was denied by the keeper. But, Garnacho would have his revenge. In the final minute of regulation Garnacho took a long ball down beautifully and ran into the box form the left to finish off a terrific right footed strike. The last gasp winner may be just the spark this side needs to kick on in league play.
U18 manager Travis Binnion was in charge for this match. Binnion was impressed with the performance of Charlie McNeil saying, “Charlie McNeil put in a great shift tonight”. Of the performance of the squad overall he said, “Barrow put you under pressure our boys aren’t used to”. United did dominate the possession in this match at 60% but it was Barrow with 13 shots that threatened the most.
This was a good result for the boys, but the teams weaknesses in defense and lack of attacking creativity still showed.
Ethan Galbraith, The 21 year-old is currently on loan with Salford City. The season has been hailed as “impressive” thus far by Galbraith. In fact, he was awarded Man of the Match in their most recent match.
Ethan Laird, currently with Queens Park Rangers, has been getting some regular playing time for the Championship side. Laird put in a full 90 minutes in QPR’s 2-1 win over Bristol City.
Meanwhile, Alvaro Fernandes and Amad Diallo playing for Preston North End and Sunderland respectively. Fernandez played the full 90, while Diallo made a 30 min substitute apperance. The match ended 0-0. Fernandez’s performance was considered quite good by many, but Diallo failed to impress in his 30 minutes.
Hannibal, made a substitute appearance in Birmingham City’s 1-1 draw with Sheffield United. Hannibal played a role in the equalizer scored by Troy Denney and assisted by former Red Devil Tahith Chong.
Manchester United’s U21s will take on Brighton on October 8th and then Chelsea on October 15th. The will then turn to Football league Trophy play on October 18th when they travel to Fleetwood.