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Premier League 2 Review: United 3-2 Derby

Man United V Derby County 19/09/16

United: McTominay 17, 85 Harrop 67 (pen)
Derby: Vernam 35, 74

After a short hiatus where I’ve been held kidnapped in a basement by a Mexican man named Guillermo I am back with my coverage of Manchester United’s Reserve team.

During my absence United have ground out a 1-1 draw against local rivals Man City thanks to a goal by Matty Willock and beaten the reigning European champions Villarreal 1-0 in the Premier League International Cup. It’s good to see that whilst Guillermo fed me on a diet of stale bread and rain water the youngsters have started putting together some impressive performances. Harrop, Poole, Tuanzebe and McTominay have all started to show promise and are benefiting from regular games. Harrop in particular growing in statue with an assured performance against European opposition.

Last season’s Premier League 2 winners Derby, who have so far failed to register a single point this season provided the opposition under the lights of Old Trafford. The rare chance to play on the hallowed turf of Old Trafford often lifts the performance of young players and United were quickly in an attacking mood with Riley flashing a shot at the Derby goal in the 6th minute.

With Riley proving to be an attacking threat as he powered down the left wing and Harrop orchestrating and dictating, it didn’t take long for United to open their account for the night. The opener came in the 17th minute when some good play by Harrop resulted in a teasing cross being headed home with aplomb by Scott McTominay. McTominay is proving to be Mr Versatile having played in a defensive midfielder role but at 6ft 4 the lad offers us a real presence up front.

As the first half progressed it was all United and Derby rarely threatened although it was clear that their striker Vernam would be a threat in the air.

McTominay was unlucky not to double the lead in the 30th minute when he saw his sliding effort clip the outside of Derby’s post and go wide. Just 60 seconds later McTominay again was unfortunate when he failed to capitalise on a Hamilton pass, this time firing hire over the bar when he really should have done better. United were dominant!!!

Derby equalised against the run of play in the 35th minute Vernam nodded a header that just crossed the line before Redmond could clear. United disputed the decision but replays show the ball was well over the line. 1-1 at half time in a game United had dominated with possession and chances.

As the second half began slowly United found it increasingly hard to create opportunities and Derby could have stolen the lead when Vernam headed narrowly wide. Warren Joyce shuffled his tactics in the 58th minute when he introduced the tricky American Olosunde who replaced a tired looking Redmond.

A fit again Ro-Shaun Williams slotted into the defence alongside Tuanzebe when he replaced Scott in the 64th minute with Regan Poole moving to left back and Riley pushed forward. The changes freshened up the team and injected some much needed pace into the United team.

It soon paid dividends when sub Matthew Olosunde was clumsily tripped inside the Derby box in the 67th minute and up stepped an assured Harrop to drill home a well taken penalty (Demi Mitchell take note!!) 2-1

You have to credit the response from the Rams as they looked to get back into the match. They refused to give up and were rewarded for their fight and sustained period of attacking play in the 74th when that man Vernam flung himself onto the end of a brilliant cross by Santos to power home the equaliser. 2-2 What a game!!

15 minutes to go and it was all set up for a grandstand finish. United flooded forward in waves as they searched for a winning goal. With just 5 minutes left on the clock the reward came when a Riley cross fell to Olosunde who nudged it towards the waiting McTominay. With an instant swivel and turn McTominay smashed home a low drive past the despairing Derby keeper Navas. 3-2

O’Hara made two vital late saves to ensure the points were United’s in what turned out to be an exciting thrilling game. Its early days in the league but the result see’s United move into 8th with 8 points from 5 games.

Up next is a short trip to Liverpool on Monday 26th September where we face an inform table topping Everton team.

United Line Up:

O Hara, Riley, Tuanzebe, Poole, El Fitouri, McTominay Redmond*, Harrop, Willock, Scott*, Hamilton.

Subs: Olosunde for Redmond 58mins, Williams for Scott 64mins.

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Note: At no time has RedInBed actually been held kidnapped by a Mexican called Guillermo!!!!!

Premier League 2 review | Southampton 2-0 United

Southampton v Man Utd 22/08/16

After last week’s smash and grab against an experienced Leicester team, Warren Joyce and his young reds travelled to the South coast for our first away game of the Premier League 2 season versus Southampton.

Joyce was again forced into shuffling the team due to injury concerns and the recent departures out on loan of left back Borthwick-Jackson to Wolves and striker Wilson to Derby. Sam Johnston who has been carrying an injury was replaced in goal by Henderson. Ex Man City trialist Sadiq El Fitouri came into the team at right back as Riley moved to left back in the absence of the departed Borthwick-Jackson. The versatile Scott McTominay was bought back into the starting eleven replacing Olosunde as Joyce went for a 4-1-4-1 formation as he looked to add more of a cutting edge to the team that struggled to create any chance of note in our last game.

The opening exchanges were dominated by Southampton as they forced two corners in the initial five minutes. The first clear cut chance of the game for United came when good link up play from McTominay in midfield carved open the Saints defence, the resulting opportunity was wasted though as our captain James Weir who is usually composed when in possession blasted the ball high and wide.

Although the young reds were showing great passing ability in the middle of the pitch it was again obvious that without anyone to finish the good build-up play, it was going to be another drab affair.

The Southampton strikers, in particular Olomola, were causing more and more problems for the United defence and would have taken the lead on the 27th minute were it not for an excellent reaction stop from Henderson. United were being forced to weather the storm.

Another glorious chance fell at Weir’s feet two minutes before half time when the Southampton keeper fumbled a corner from Harrop, as the ball dropped to Weir 2 yards out he could only scuff the ball wide with the goal at his mercy.

As the second half started manager Warren Joyce made some tactical changes by moving Weir back into midfield and pushing Harrop up front. The changes failed to improve the team as Southampton looked to convert their dominance into goals.

The first goal of the game inevitably fell to Southampton when Kehinde failed to track his opposing player and the resulting cross was headed out by Tuanzebe only for it to fall at the feet of Sims and his deflected shot rifled past Henderson.

United tried to respond but without any sort of threat up front were left to try and score from long range shots. This game was crying out for a Rashford or Pereira type player and with Jose bemoaning the lack of first team games to play this should have been a game to give young players minutes on the pitch.

Southampton killed the game of when they scored their second of the game in the 62nd minute. United’s defence was again culpable when a lack of marking from a Saints corner allowed Stephens to head home unchallenged.

Joyce instantly responded to the second goal by sending on last week’s hero Demi Mitchell for El Fitouri but it failed to improve the performance of a lack lustre team on a sunny August evening. The impressive Olomola should have made it more but a couple of bad misses kept the score respectable as Southampton saw out the remainder of the game.

A disappointing result coupled with a below average performance had Warren Joyce visibly deflated in his after match interview. He will surely be looking for an instant response when we face a much sterner test on Sunday versus a strong Chelsea side. (Hopefully we find a striker before then!!!)

United Line Up:

Henderson, Riley, Tuanzebe, Poole, El Fitouri, McTominay Redmond, Harrop, Willock, Weir, Kehinde

Subs: Mitchell for El Fitouri 63mins

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Premier League 2 review | United V Leicester

Man United V Leicester 15/08/16

After the disappointment of losing in last week’s cup semi final it was at last time to kick off the season with our first Premier League 2 game. United were the hosts versus an experienced Leicester team that included ex reds Matty James, Tom Lawrence and Ritchie De Laet in their team.

Yet again United lined up without a recognised striker in the team and you have to wonder why if players like Borthwick-Jackson are afforded a run out why others such as Wilson, Pereira and Fosu-Mensah are left kicking their heels in the stands.

Surely a game like this would have helped them gain more match experience and help increase fitness as well as highlighting their abilities to potential suitors. You could also argue that senior players who have not had much pre season action such as Schneiderlin, Darmian and Rashford could have been afforded a short cameo as they challenge for a place in the first team eleven.

Perhaps this year Joyce will be afforded a settled team without having to contend with the disruption of loosing players out on loan. This can only benefit the team although the lack of a quality striker may prove to be telling as the season unfolds.

The first half was dominated by a hungry Leicester team who clearly hadn’t travelled just to make up the numbers. We had to wait until Borthwick-Jackson had a tame shot saved in the 34th minute before United registered a shot on target.

Midfielder and Captain James Weir toiled upfront as a makeshift striker as United struggled to create any clear cut opportunities. Weir did manage to get the ball in the net but the goal was denied when the linesmen judged Borthwick-Jackson to be in an offside position.

The impressive Axel Tuanzebe again held the defence together with another assured performance and with Sam Johnston pulling of a number of saves United were lucky to head into half time with a clean sheet.

Things didn’t improve after the break for the young reds and it was nearly on the hour mark before they managed to force their first corner of the game. This was nearly as bad as watching an LVG game!!!

Warren Joyce turned to his bench for inspiration and with twenty minutes left threw on Demi Mitchell for the American Olosunde in the hope of injecting some creativity. Mitchell made an immediate impact when within two minutes of coming on he danced down the left and fizzed in a dangerous cross into the middle.

It was going to take a moment of genius to swing this game United’s way as Leicester continued knocking on the door of United’s goal.

As the game drifted into its final 5 minutes it looked like a draw was on the cards until a long punt downfield from keeper Johnston fell at the feet of substitute Demi Mitchell. Mitchell instantly controlled the ball with his left foot and spotting the opposing keeper of his line expertly lobbed the ball into the empty net.

It was redemption for the young forward who had been the fall guy after last week’s penalty shoot out defeat to Oldham, when his ridiculous penalty attempt/miss had cost United a place in the final.

Yes it wasn’t a pretty game, yes the team needs work but United had won the match in a smash and grab with a long ball goal in the dying minutes. 3 points is 3 points and the team move on to their next game away to Southampton on the 22nd of August. Hopefully before then Joyce will figure out the dilemma as to who fills the striker’s role.

United Line Up:

Johnston, Riley, Tuanzebe, Poole, Borthwick-Jackson, Olosunde, Redmond, Harrop, Willock, Weir, Kehinde

Subs: Mitchell 68 for Olosunde

Goals: Mitchell – 88

Stay tuned for more reserve match reports and news from Premier League 2.

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Introducing the Premier League 2

The Premier League have announced an exciting new Under-23 competition that will replace the Under-21 Premier League from 2016/17.

With a greater focus on a level of play in terms of technicality, physicality and intensity the aim is to bring players as close to first-team experience as is possible.

The age limit for players has risen from Under-21 to Under-23.

The new age limit is for players born after 1 January 1993, although each team can still field an older goalkeeper and three over-age outfield players in every match.

The league will take on the same format of its predecessor of two tiers, Division 1 and Division 2, with 12 teams in each.

United, guided by Warren Joyce will be in Division 1 alongside Arsenal, Chelsea, Derby, Everton, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester City, Reading, Southampton, Sunderland and Tottenham Hotspur.

Teams will play each other home and away over the course of a 22-game season with the bottom two clubs being relegated to Division 2. The second-tier winners gain automatic promotion with the sides ranked second, third, fourth and fifth competing in a play-off for the second available slot.

The 24 clubs who compete each applied for ‘Category One’ status in the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP).

There are 15 clubs from the Premier League and 9 clubs from the Championship.

All players born after 1 January 1993 for the 2016/17 season are eligible to play, and the format stays as follows:

  • There are 12 teams in Division 1 and 12 in Division 2, with every club playing each other once at home and once away.
  • In Division 1, the team who finish first are champions.
  • The bottom two teams in Division 1 get relegated to Division 2.
  • In Division 2, the league winners get automatic promotion to Division 1.
  • Teams ranked second, third, fourth and fifth go into a promotion play-off.
  • Second plays fifth place at home and third hosts fourth in the semi-finals, both at the club’s main stadium, while the final takes place at the home ground of the team who finished highest in the league.
  • All play-off matches are one-off ties, decided by extra-time and then penalties if the match is level after 120 minutes.
  • There is no relegation from Division 2

Other rules include:

  • Each team can field a goalkeeper over the age limit and up to three ‘over-age’ outfield players in every match.
  • Each club must host at least three league matches at their main stadium during the course of the season, which helps to enhance the matchday experience for the players and fans.
  • Member clubs’ training grounds or Academy venues will be permitted for the staging of up to three home matches over the course of the league season.

Manchester United go into the 2016/17 campaign as champions in three of the U21 Premier League’s four seasons.

The increase in age limit will allow United to blood some of its most promising youngsters in what should be an entertaining competition. With the first team competing in the Europa League, players like Weir, Harrop and Sean Goss will be looking to put in performances that catch Jose Mourinho’s eye in the hope they can earn a call up to the first team squad.

The alteration in the age limit restrictions will also mean that first team squad players such as Shaw, Bailly, Depay, Rashford and Martial can appear in the Premier League 2 if a competitive match is required to boost fitness levels.

With some of our fringe players set to seek more playing time out on loan, we might also see some of our promising academy players like the mercurial Angel Gomez and Tahith Chong given a call up to our second string squad. (Surely a better option than seeing a half fit Phil Jones plodding about the pitch!)

Manchester United Reserves fixtures 2016/17:

2 Aug Oldham (H) Lancs Cup Semi-Final
15 Aug Leicester (H)
22 Aug Southampton (A)
28 Aug Chelsea (H)
9 Sep Manchester City (A)
19 Sep Derby (H)
26 Sep Everton (A)
17 Oct Liverpool (H)
24 Oct Arsenal (H)
28 Oct Tottenham (A)
21 Nov Sunderland (H)
28 Nov Reading (A)
9 Dec Chelsea (A)
9 Jan Manchester City (H)
15 Jan Liverpool (A)
30 Jan Everton (H)
6 Feb Derby (A)
20 Feb Reading (H)
5 Mar Sunderland (A)
13 Mar Southampton (H)
10 Apr Leicester (A)
24 Apr Tottenham (H)
8 May Arsenal (A)

All fixtures are subject to change. Unless otherwise stated, home games are at Leigh Sports Village and all matches will kick off at 19:00.

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