Tag Archives: Youth

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.

Please like, share and comment and make sure you look out for all the reserve match reports, news and future articles.

United set to add Brentford Midfielder Joshua Bohui to youth setup

Manchester United are close to signing Brentford’s teenage midfielder Joshua Bohui.

The 17-year-old who can also play as a striker has been training in Carrington and will join up with Manchester United’s Under-18’s next season.

Bohui is a product of the Afewee Academy run by volunteers in Brixton, which also helped develop Liverpool and England right-back Nathaniel Clyne.

Bohui has represented England’s U-17’s and was part of Steve Cooper’s squad in Azerbaijan in May. He was set to be a second year scholar with Brentford, but has now decided to make the move to United.

Jose Mourinho has taken a host of youngsters with him to the club’s pre-season tour of China and with the Portuguese looking to change perceptions at Old Trafford, Bohui will be hopeful of catching his eye in the coming months.

Nine Academy graduates arrived in Shanghai on Wednesday morning ahead of the two International Cup games in the far East against Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City.

Goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, who is yet to make a competitive first-team appearance, but has been on several pre-season tours, is joined by Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Paddy McNair, Axel Tuanzebe, Andreas Pereira, Jese Lingard, Adnan Januzaj, Will Keane and Marcus Rashford in making the trip.

Joshua Bohui will stay in Manchester and may be used by Warren Joyce’s title-winning squad, joining the likes of Matty Willock in preparing for pre-season friendlies against Altrincham on Friday and Salford City at Moor Lane next Tuesday.

Youth player Ashley Fletcher hopes Barnsley form will catch Jose’s attention

Manchester United Under-21 striker, Ashley Fletcher, is hoping that his recent visit to Wembley Stadium as a player will catch the eye of new United boss, Jose Mourinho.

Fletcher is currently on loan at Barnsley and recently scored in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy helping his team to a final victory. He then returned to Wembley to watch United V Palace in the FA Cup final.

Fletcher will be making another appearance at Wembley this afternoon, as a player, in the League One play-ff final, hoping he can help Barnsley to promotion. Maybe that will catch Mourinho’s attention.

“My aim will be to go back to Manchester United and see what happens there. I’ve got to play my game. If they like me and give me an opportunity, then I hope I can take it. That’s my aim, to go back there and show them what I’m about.”

Ashley Fletcher was the lead striker in United’s Under-21 team at the beginning of the season and has since been overtaken by Marcus Rashford. With Mourinho unlikely to load the squad full of youngsters next season, Fletcher had this to say:

“Going on loan again is another option. But my full focus will be to go back there and try to get into that first team.”

Busting the myth that Jose Mourinho doesn’t trust youth

Since the rumours of Jose Mourinho taking over the hot seat at Old Trafford gathered pace in December, several myths have been circling regarding his management style.

The strongest myth being that he does not play or trust youth players. But is this really true? No. It’s not. Let’s take a look at clubs he has managed and the young players that he handed first team opportunities to:

  1. Porto (2002-2004)
  2. Jose Mourinho’s time at Porto saw the emergence of players such as Deco, Maniche and Ricardo Carvalho. These players became Portugal internationals while Mourinho was at the helm. While none of the above mentioned players were at the beginning of their careers, the same cannot be said for then 19-year-old Carlos Alberto, who scored the opening goal of the 2004 Champions League final victory. Alberto became the youngest scorer in a European cup final.

  3. Chelsea (2004-2007)
  4. In a side with Claude Makelele being the only player over 30, Mourinho also placed faith in younger players including Petr Cech (22), John Terry (23) and Arjen Robben (20). All these players were in the early stages of their careers. Youngsters Glen Johnson and Robert Huth also played enough games to pick up winners medals before they turned 21. Other players getting a shot at first team football were Steven Watt, Jimmy Smith, Michael Woods, Anthony Grant, Ben Sahar and Sam Hutchinson.

  5. Inter Milan (2008-2010)
  6. Inter Milan’s sides under Mourinho were packed with experienced players, but teenager Mario Balotelli made over 70 appearances while 18-year-old Davide Santon was handed an opportunity playing in defence against Manchester United in the Champions League.

  7. Real Madrid (2010-2013)
  8. During his three-year spell in charge of Real Madrid, Jose Mourinho handed debuts to 20 (yes, twenty) different academy players. These included the likes of Alvaro Morata and Jese Rodriguez. Raphael Varane, a purchase from French side Lens, was also a young player Mourinho put his faith in.

  9. Chelsea 2013-2015)
  10. In the first season of Jose’s second stint at Chelsea, he awarded Dominic Solanke with a professional debut aged just 17 in a Champions League match while Ruben Loftus-Cheek made three appearances. Other players to receive professional debuts under Mourinho were: Lewis Baker, John Swift and Andreas Christensen.

So, the proof is there and the myth is busted. Jose Mourinho has no qualms in putting his faith in youth. Sure, most of them may have only had a few minutes here and there and nothing more. But, there are some big names up there who played big parts and are household names today.

It just goes to show that if Mourinho believes that a young player has what it takes, he will give them the opportunity.

We must remember, promoting youth doesn’t necessarily mean handing a debut to every single player that comes through the youth academy. That’s not what it’s about.

Source: Sky Sports

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Rashford wins U18 Prize

Marcus Rashford has been named Manchester United’s Under-18s Player of the Year by the club’s coaching staff, after what has been an incredible breakthrough season for the young forward.

The 18 year old began the 2015/16 campaign with the academy and also featured in the Under-19s UEFA Youth League campaign, enjoying a hot streak of 8 goals in 6 games in September.

A handful of appearances for the Under-21’s followed at the turn of the year, before Rashford was called up into the Manchester United first team after Anthony Martial was injured in the warm up before United’s all important 2nd leg Europa League clash against FC Midtjylland at Old Trafford.

The Mancunian grabbed his opportunity in some style, scoring twice against FC Midtjylland in a 5-1 victory at Old Trafford before adding two more in his next outing three days later against Arsenal.

Winning goals followed against Manchester City and Aston Villa, plus a sensational strike against West Ham United in the FA Cup have further boosted Rashford’s senior credentials.

Speaking to ManUtd.com after collecting the award, Rashford said “It has been a bit crazy really as everything happened at once, so it’s difficult to take in. That worked in my favour as I didn’t really have time to think about it.”

“It means a lot coming from Manchester. It’s what dreams are made of when you are born here; it was everything I was looking forward to. I am happy.”

“It’s important for me to thank all the coaching staff from the Under-18s, Colin Little, Nicky Butt, Paul McGuinness and Warren Joyce. They are the ones who have helped me get to where I am, so it’s important to thank them.”

Youth player profile: Angel Gomes

Can Gomes live up to his first name of Angel?
A breakdown of the prodigy’s profile.

Angel Gomes. The name just oozes professional footballer. Imagine that name being read out as he scores a worldie from 30 yards. Just hearing that name in the pre-match line-up would lift the fans. But names mean very little. Even those with famous surnames who aim to carry on a legacy. Just ask Jordi Cruyff.

It’s what you do on the pitch that counts, and the boy Gomes can play that’s for sure.

He’s 15! Being an August Birthday, like Gomes in fact, I did technically leave school at 15, but only just, with the majority of the year group departing high school aged 16. This puts things into perspective, as at 15, Gomes is already emerging as the next big thing.

Having been at the club since the age of 7, Gomes knows what it’s like to pull on the famous Red shirt, and what it means to where the badge of United upon his chest. A small chest at that, for now at least. An exact height figure is unbeknownst to me, but Gomes possesses a small physique.

With his best position probably in the number 10 role, his physique doesn’t necessarily need to be in the mould of a Chris Samba for example. Just ask Juan Mata, David Silva and Mario Gotze, world-class talents who excel in the role just behind the striker despite their sleight statures.

Gomes is neat and tidy on the ball, he likes to take many touches, playing eye of the needle passes whilst linking up intricately with his teammates in and around the penalty area.

It’s important for any player to nail down a set position, but many managers crave versatile players, with Gomes comfortable at playing in any of the three behind the striker, in the popular 4-2-3-1 formation, one that has been used prominently at all levels of the club this season.

Playing as the number nine isn’t out of his depth, certainly once Gomes bulks up, he could do a job there, as he’s quick and has a keen eye for goal.

Gomes is already part of the England set-up at youth level. (Picture: Zimbio)
Gomes is already part of the England set-up at youth level. (Picture: Zimbio)

Attending the U18’s fixture away against Stoke City recently, the first chance of the game fell three minutes in, with Gomes cutting inside onto his favoured right foot, curling an effort just wide, highlighting how keen Gomes was to push ahead on the front foot.

The use of his right foot is heavy, but at 15, it’s to be expected. As is his tactical awareness. He’s far from lazy or lackadaisically, but achieving the balance between attack and defence whilst maintaining a strong positional sense in his final third is one to be worked on. But he’ll pick up on that as he progresses up the footballing ladder.

Gomes seems shy and quiet. It’s rare to see him asking for the ball or encouraging teammates, but he is yet to play regular football with the U18s, still getting to know his teammates. He may be a leader at U16 level. Paul Scholes was quiet but let his football do the talking. Gomes is the type of player who could follow suit.

At 12, he was playing for the U14s, at 14 he was playing for the U16s, then aged still 14 last year, he made his U18 debut. Scary. He doesn’t seem dazed or daunted by this, looking very much at home at U18 level.

Never involved in opposition confrontation or getting in the referee’s face, Gomes seems a grounded and level-headed guy. Having the right people surrounding him will be key, both in his personal life with family and friends, and at the club, coaches, teammates etc.

There’s the risk of bigging him up too much. Just look at Federico Macheda. Even recent examples like James Wilson and Adnan Januzaj, who have hardly sparkled during loan spells away or at first team level at Old Trafford where the squad is lacking up front and out wide.

Nonetheless, Gomes certainly has the talent, temperament, potential and promise to go far. It’s now about keeping his feet firmly on the ground. A full season at U18 level may do him good next season, where regular game time with the same crop of players week-in week-out would allow Gomes to develop his game in a settled side.

Should his progress continue as it has done, he will encounter the tutelage of Warren Joyce, a coach who could take Gomes under his wing, and set him on the path to a long and prosperous career in the game, hopefully at United. It’s been a privilege to watch him in person, as well as on TV. And one day I hope to see him grace the pitch at The Theatre of Dreams for the first team. This kid is one to keep an eye on that’s for sure.

By Ash

Should youth be brought through instead of big money signings?

As kids, we all had kick-abouts in the park, whether it was in a team or for fun. You all dream of scouts watching your thirty yard screamers, Hat-tricks or even a super save. Manchester United recruit many players every year from Grassroots football, into their sacred academy.

My question is how many make the first team? The answer in reality, not many. Current players include: Paddy McNair, Jesse Lingard and most recently Cameron Borthwick-Jackson. But, if we look at the likes of Barcelona’s academy, United’s doesn’t compare to it in terms of bringing players through.

England are failing in international tournaments and is it because Premier League teams are bringing in far too many average foreign players and not giving English kids a chance. Jamie Vardy quoted “I have played against better midfielders and defenders in Non-League than the Premier League”.

Dele Alli has appeared on the scene for Tottenham this season at a mere age of nineteen and has blown the Premier League away with some sensational performances. Do United need someone like this? In my opinion, yes. It wouldn’t just get Manchester United supporters excited, the whole country would be excited.

United have a superb reputation of bringing players in, just look at the class of ’92. David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the two Neville brothers Gary and Phillip are arguably the best to ever emerge from the academy. I would like to see players such as Donald Love, Matty Willock, Joe Rothwell and Sean Goss all given a chance in the first team.

Todays FA Cup last sixteen draw paired Louis van Gaal’s side with League One opposition in Shrewsbury Town and I think this match would be a perfect opportunity to give some of those young lads a chance. Grassroots football is an essential part of the game, so many kids play football so why are they not getting recognized by the big clubs? Is it something to do with coaching?

Jamie Vardy is setting up his own academy for younger players called V9. This is to get Non-League players spotted by professional clubs and give them that chance to live that ultimate dream. United are not just one of the biggest clubs in England, they are one of the biggest in the world and you would expect youth players who have fight, passion and a desire to play football to be promoted to the first team.

In some occasions big money signings dont want to come to your club in the first place and just want to suck the money out of the club. Angel Di Maria comes to mind for many reds fans. I think we should be focusing on bringing Youth players through instead of spending this ridiculous money.

As always thank you for reading my articles.

Josh Bunting
distillerymad on Twitter

Youth policy is a boost for united says U21 Coach

Manchester United U21 team Coach Warren Joyce claimed that Louis Van Gaal’s Youth Policy is boosting United’s transfer chances.

The red devils’ chances of getting top youth talents across the world have been boosted by Louis Van Gaal’s youth policy. Lots of players under warren Joyce’s Under 21 team have been promoted to the Manchester United First team since van Gaal’s arrival.

The Dutch manager Louis Van Gaal has completed around 18 months stay at Old Trafford and During his 18 months in charge, Axel Tuanzebe, Marcus Rashford, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Sean Goss, Nick Powell and Andreas Pereira have all made at least one senior match day squad.

Many First team players are missing out important games because of injuries. This is one more reason behind promotion of youth players to the first team squad in order to compensate for the loss of senior talent.

Manchester united U21 Coach Warren Joyce talked to M.E.N. Sport about the Dutch manager’s youth policy. He said, “It’s obviously massive for the club and young players. I’m sure all boys around Manchester must be looking and thinking if they do any good at Manchester United they will get a chance. We haven’t got a lot of numbers so they do get a chance.”
“They get worked, they get opportunities to train with the first team regularly and it’s the same old adage: if you do well enough, you’ll get a chance and if you do well enough when you’re in, you’ll keep there. I think Jesse’s shown that this season.”

Louis Van Gaal also dropped some first team players to U21 team in order to gain form or to solve health related issues. The Dutch manager recently played Sergio Romero and Marouane Fellaini in U21 clash against Liverpool in which Fellaini scored the opening goal.
This shows that this policy of giving youth players more senior team exposure and Playing senior players in U21 team to gain form is working for Manchester United as well as United’s young talent. Warren Joyce believes the youngsters can learn a lot from the first team experience and this is boosting United’s chance of attracting world’s top talent.

Read full article here at the Mirror’s official website.

What do you think of Louis van Gaal’s youth Policy ? Do you think we should promote more youth talent in first team? Have your say and Let us know your opinions in the comments section below.