Youth. Courage. Success.
These three words were pushed heavily by Manchester United last summer, to try and earmark a new era at the club. This is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side and with it, he will bring forward new, fresher, younger figures.
Such factors have been an integral part of his recruitment process, with there being an emphasis to target players that are aged around the 23-25 mark. Alongside new signings though, the Norwegian has also looked to integrate academy players into the senior picture, to help bolster out his first-team squad.
So far this season, Solskjaer has granted eight youth players their official debut for the club. In doing so, he has equalled a 67-year-old mark set by Sir Matt Busby.
The first on his list was Brandon Williams, a courageous full-back who had only just been drafted into the U23s last summer. His opportunity arised from injuries, but also the manager’s eagerness to seek potential squad fillers from the academy. The Englishman hasn’t looked back since, recently penning a new four-year deal.Embed from Getty Images
Six of the others all came in the same night against Astana back in November. Solskjaer has utilised the Europa League to give such talents a platform to try and impress on, with three U23 players making their first-ever starts in this game – Di’Shon Bernard, Ethan Laird and Dylan Levitt.
Ethan Galbraith, Largie Ramazani and D’Mani Mellor all came off the bench and despite the end result, the fixture served as an important experience for each selected player.
The eighth name to equal Sir Matt Busby’s record came via Teden Mengi last night. The Englishman came off the bench for a five-minute cameo against LASK, looking defensively sound down that right-channel.
Mengi has impressed for Neil Wood’s side this season, in what has been his first year with the U23s. His development is being watched closely by those associated with the club, as he looks set to develop into a top class defender.
The 18-year-old is another example of the wealth of talent coming through the ranks at the club and so long as Ole is at the wheel, the youth will always be granted a chance to shine.