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Jose’s Juveniles?

Transfer rumours always surround Manchester United, and at this time of the year the speculation as to who is heading to Old Trafford is more heightened than usual. It’s an exciting time, mega-money deals apparently imminent – Griezmann, Belotti and Lukako are just a few names being linked with United, but after the club’s final match of the season against Crystal Palace where an array of youth team players played exceptionally well and beat the London side, could we be seeing a new crop of young footballers making Mourinho’s squad for the 2017/18 season?

There is no doubt the Manchester United manager will make some big money buys during the summer transfer window. However, with so many ‘kids’ taking their chance against Palace, some nurtured through the youth team by former Manchester United great Nicky Butt, there could well be an attractive blend of youth and experience in the United team for the start of next season. Praise from Mourinho was in abundance for the youngsters first team performance, we have seen ‘Fergie’s Fledglings’ and ‘The Busby Babes’ and as the great Sir Matt Busby once said, ‘If they are good enough they are old enough’ – so will we get to witness a new era of ‘Jose’s Juveniles?’ It would seem the United manager has plenty of young players to choose from to carry on the club’s traditions of blooding ‘the kids’…

On 25th May 2017 Jose Mourinho fielded a team of an average age of 22 years and 284 days, the youngest side to start a match in the history of the Premier League. We all know about the likes of Rashford and Lingard who have successfully come through the Old Trafford ranks to become first team regulars, Rashford has become the new sensation, with the skill and temperament to go onto be one of the world’s great footballers. Lingard, slightly older, has complemented his colleague and friend superbly at times this season and has all the attributes to become an Old Trafford star. But who else could we be seeing make the step up to regular first team football next season and can they go onto become the next Manchester United prodigy? Here are a few names to look out for…

 

Angel Gomes:

This young player was the teenager making all the headlines on the final day of the Premier League season. He only came on as a substitute for two minutes of the game, but those 120 seconds were enough to see this is a name to look out for in the future and he made Old Trafford history by becoming the youngest player to make his Manchester United debut since the great Duncan Edwards. Gomes was 16 years and 263 days old when he ran onto the pitch at the theatre of dreams. A creative and intelligent attacking midfield player who has been compared to Paul Scholes, Gomes made 19 appearances for United’s under-18 team this season grabbing an impressive 12 goals. This feat earnt him The Jimmy Murphy Player of the Year award last month – the youngest footballer in the club’s history to win the trophy. One to watch out for, one for the future…

 

Axel Tuenzabe:

Cool, calm and a confident first 90-minute Old Trafford debut for United’s first team. Tuenzabe had already made an impressive away debut against Arsenal where he defended at right-back and kept Alexis Sanchez at bay – a great feat for any player but even more outstanding when you are only 19 years old and making your first start for your club at The Emirates Stadium. Another stand-out performance at Old Trafford on the last day of the season and winning the Club’s Denzil Haroun Reserve Player of the Year award, makes the name Alex Tuenzabe one to remember. However, it was his first team start in a friendly match against Wigan in the summer of 2016 that earnt him the confidence of his manager, Mourinho remarked: ‘The potential is there, you see it immediately.’ Hard tackling, a no-nonsense defender with the temperament to match, this teen has a great footballing career ahead of him…

 

Demetri Mitchell:

Another assured performance, this young defender played against Crystal Palace with confidence at left-back. This skilful, pacey footballer started his youth football career as a forward, mainly on the wing where he scored an array of goals. However, a move to full-back when the under-23 side were struggling for a footballer in that position, has seen him flourish as a left/wing-back with great attacking play as well as excelling in his defensive role. Clearly Mitchell has caught the eye of Mourinho, the United manager had complete confidence in this young player to name him on the subs bench for the Premier League match against Arsenal this season before picking him to play in the first eleven against Crystal Palace where he shone in Jose’s Juvenile team. Demetri Mitchell has all the attributes to make it to the top…

 

Scott McTominay:

This central midfield player made a commendable account of himself against The Eagles in his first start for Manchester United after previous sub appearances. Composed and a willingness to ‘get stuck in,’ McTominay had no fear in the middle of the park. Flourishing under former United reserve team manager Warren Joyce, the youngster described his Old Trafford debut as a ‘dream’ and was assured in his position alongside Paul Pogba in central-midfield against Crystal Palace. McTominay has said since his debut he is determined to work hard to achieve further first-team starts which will be music to Jose Mourinho’s ears, he likes nothing more than a player who gives his all for the team and clearly has great confidence in this young player. Scott McTominay could easily become a future household name…

 

Jose Pereira:

Now United’s third choice goalkeeper, Jose Mourinho has every faith in this young shot stopper and rates him so highly that he said Pereira is ‘the best Portuguese player of the next generation.’ Naming him in goal in the last first team game of the season, Mourinho’s star youngster impressed and kept a clean sheet. Having already made four starts for Portugal’s under-21 side, Pereira is expected to go far. He made an FA Cup substitute appearance for the first team against Wigan earlier in the year, being named in the first eleven against Crystal Palace was a great compliment from his manager and a chance for the goalie to shine which he did with aplomb. The future is bright, the future is Jose Pereira…

 

Josh Harrop:

This 22-year-old player enjoyed the perfect debut against Crystal Palace. Skilfully taking the ball through The Eagle’s defence, he scored on his first start for United with just 15 minutes on the clock. Grabbing a superb hat-trick less than a week before his first team debut against Tottenham for United reserves, Harrop has caught the eye of Mourinho with his talent and work-rate. The youngster can play as a playmaker or in the number 10 role, he was worked his way through the United ranks with confidence, flair, and goals to match. Harrop scored four goals in the youth Milk Cup tournament against Revo Express in the team’s 8-0 win when he was just 17 years old, and has impressed ever since, so much so that a new improved contract has been reported to be on the cards for this young player. Remember the name; Josh Harrop, there is more of him to come…

All of the above young players have the potential to become great footballers and the stars of the future. Keeping with the Manchester United traditions of Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho has bloodied youth into the first team and given these players the confidence and encouragement to fulfil their dream of developing into the stars of tomorrow and making regular first team football a reality.

The Busby Babes were the team of the 1950s, Fergie’s Fledglings dominated the 1990s, could we see Jose Juveniles conquer 2018 and beyond? After all, it is what Manchester United are all about and Mourinho is following in the footsteps of his great predecessors. Big name summer signings mooted, an evolving current squad mixed with enthusiastic, talented, hungry youth – exciting times ahead at Old Trafford for the fans as well as Jose’s Juveniles…

About Hannah Lawrence

Hannah Lawrence
My name is Hannah Lawrence and I regularly write scripts, novels and articles.  I have completed a course with The Writers Bureau and have had work published by Viz magazine, United Press poetry books and The UK Poetry Library. I have some of my short stories available for purchase on Amazon for Kindle, I am also a member of my local writer's group, Kingswood Writer's Ink.  You will also find some of my work on my website as well as on Wattpad. 

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