Tuesday 7 June 2016

United retain faith in youth in 2015/16

United have a long and proud history of building teams from homegrown players.

Indeed, at least one graduate from the club's famed Academy has featured in every first team squad since 1937, and 2015/16 was no different.

Jesse Lingard's superb winner in the FA Cup final last month was a fitting way to end a season characterised by a new and emerging crop of young talent now permeating United's senior team.

During his final season at Old Trafford, Louis van Gaal handed debuts to seven youngsters: Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Donald Love, Joe Riley, Marcus Rashford, Regan Poole, Tim Fosu-Mensah and James Weir and also fielded a further seven Academy products who had made their bows in previous campaigns.

Between them, this new generation of Reds amassed 121 appearances, 76 starts and 16 goals, adding further proof to the argument that you should always give your own a chance.
Of those 16 strikes, 14 of them were contributed by the two standout players of this current crop- Rashford and Lingard.

Both players have played a huge part in United's campaign, shouldering responsibility usually afforded to players of much greater experience.

Jesse's wonderful strikes against Chelsea and Palace in the final will live long in the memory but it is Rashford's season that truly epitomises the United ethos.

Starting the season plying his trade for the Under 18s, the Manchester-born forward worked his way into the Under 21s before a pre-match injury to Anthony Martial ahead of the Europa League tie with Midtjylland thrust the teenager into the spotlight.

Where he could have buckled under the pressure, Rashford thrived, netting a brace against both the Danish side and also on his full Premier League against Arsenal the following weekend.

After helping United to reach Wembley by scoring a sumptuous goal at West Ham in the FA Cup replay, Rashford finished the campaign as a cup winner.

He then made his senior England debut- scoring after three minutes against Australia- before signing a new United contract and selection for Roy Hodgson's final 23 man squad for the upcoming Euros in France.

A whirlwind few months.

Don't be fooled into thinking these two examples of local talent are the only players to have caught the eye, though.
Borthwick-Jackson- who joined Rashford in signing a new contract last week- displayed confidence and composure at left-back that belied his tender years.
Those from further afield impressed, too, with Dutchman Fosu-Mensah putting in a number of powerful performances at both right-back and centre-back to suggest he is another to watch in the coming seasons. 

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