FA Youth Cup – United win to set up Quarter Final trip to Liverpool
Manchester United overcame Newcastle in the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup on Wednesday night with an incredibly one-sided 1-0 victory at Altrincham. The win paves the way for a tough quarter final with arch rivals Liverpool, but on the evidence of this performance, the team should have nothing to fear.
United dominated the game from start to finish, accumulating a huge 35 shots on goal, but it was only a piece of magic from hotly-tipped midfielder Ravel Morrison that managed to find the net. The lack of goalscoring prowess throughout the game can be put down to United missing their only two recognised strikers through injury. Will Keane missed out with a dead leg and John Cofie has undergone knee surgery which could keep him out for the rest of the season’s Academy fixtures. It meant United started with Dutch winger Gyliano van Velzen as a lone striker with Morrison the main support.
The goal came midway through the second half as the ball fell to the magical feet of Morrison inside the box. He jinked past two defenders before firing in an unstoppable shot off the bar with his weaker left foot. It was just rewards for his overall performance; constantly finding space behind the Newcastle midfield and making several dangerous dribbles around the penalty box. After a spell out of the team (apparently due to disciplinary reasons), Morrison has returned in the last few weeks and once again showed his immense talent and potential.
Thanks to the restrictive but challenging 90 minute rule of acquiring English players, it was great to see eight Manchester boys in the United side and even better to see the talent they demonstrated. Paul McGuinness and his coaching team are clearly doing a great job – the technique and ability on show from every player was fantastic to see and totally overshadowed that of their North East counterparts.
Along with Morrison, the two best performances on show came from United’s centre midfield duo of Ryan Tunnicliffe and Frenchman Paul Pogba. Together they utterly dominated the game and both looked unplayable at times. Tunnicliffe is a tremendously exciting prospect. His technique, passing, running power and spirit form a package most comparable with Steven Gerrard. The 18-year-old could become the type of player United have been missing since the departure of Roy Keane. Meanwhile, the 6ft 2” Pogba dominates at this level not just because of his size but because of his natural ability. Some of the drag-backs and feints he pulls off are brilliant to see from a central midfielder.
It wouldn’t surprise this writer if at least one of these three made an appearance in the FA Cup game with Crawley Town on Saturday. With Morrison having already made his first team debut (a minute long cameo in the Carling Cup against Wolves this season), he would appear to be first in line, but it would be great to be able to bring on exciting players like Pogba or Tunnicliffe to give the crowd an extra lift if United are comfortably ahead.
One man who would seem to definitely be in line for some action on Saturday is Norwegian striker Josh King. With unconfirmed rumours of an injury to Michael Owen and with Sir Alex Ferguson likely to want to rest Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov for the Champions League trip to Marseille in midweek, King looks set to be rewarded for his form in the reserves with at least a place on the bench. Since returning from a loan spell at Championship strugglers Preston and overcoming injuries, King has quickly found his goalscoring form, firing in five goals in his latest two appearances.
It remains to be seen how long Sir Alex will wait before fielding his latest crop of youngsters in the first team, but with this amount of blossoming talent, United’s Under 18s can head to Liverpool with every confidence of getting a result, even though the Reds did demolish Southend 9-0 in the previous round.
Johnstone, M. Keane, Thorpe, Fornasier, Blackett, Cole, Tunnicliffe, Pogba, LIngard, Morrison, van Velzen
When do you think the likes of Morrison, Pogba and Tunnicliffe will be given the chance to break through? Do they have the talent to become Manchester United players? Let us know by leaving your comments…
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