Wednesday 1 November 2017

3,883 games.... and counting.

Another Jose Mourinho myth busted and blown firmly out of the water.

United have now named an Academy graduate in every first team squad for 3,883 consecutive games, a run that stretches back to October 1937.

An incredible statistic that's unlikely to be equalled by any other club anywhere, under a manager who supposedly never gives youth its chance. 

Against Benfica, Mourinho gave a full Champions League debut, and a third senior United start, to 20-year-old Scott McTominay in midfield.

McTominay came on against Burton in the EFL - sorry Carabao - Cup and started in the Reds 2-0 win at Swansea in the same competition a week ago. 

But the Champions League represents a significant step up in importance, class and quality. 

He certainly didn't look out of place whatsoever against the Portuguese side, particularly towards the end of the first half, when he seemed to grow in confidence immeasurably. 

The Academy graduate was strong in the tackle, won the ball back more times than anyone else and demonstrated an impressive range of passing throughout. 

Jesse Lingard also started and Marcus Rashford, on his 20th birthday, came off the bench and had a crucial impact on the game.

With Ander Herrera rested, and Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick injured, McTominay was given his opportunity alongside the metronomic Nemanja Matic.

Born in Lancaster, McTominay has been at Old Trafford since he was five, and made his senior debut as a substitute against Arsenal three games from the end of last season.

A first start followed when he was part of United's youngest ever Premier League XI in a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace in an end of season dead rubber. 

He made the briefest of European bows in United's 1-0 win in Lisbon on Matchday Three, when he replaced Henrikh Mkhitaryan in injury time. 

All well and good being given a chance when there's no pressure on you, but the glamour and high pressures of Europe's elite competition is another matter entirely, and McTominay certainly made the most of his opportunity. 

Recently rewarded with a new contract, McTominay admitted it was a dream come true, and said:

"As a young boy, you dream of two things: playing for Manchester United and to be able to play in the Champions League
"I've done both, all those years coming up through the academy, watching the first team, it's a dream come true... I am made up."

A bright future beckons for the latest product of United's conveyor belt of emerging young talent. 

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