Manchester United’s midfield diamonds shine in FA Youth Cup victory

While the depth in midfield for Manchester United’s first team is a worrying problem, it is one of the biggest strengths for a youth set-up which yields talents such as Hannibal Mejbri, Isak Hansen-Aaroen, Kobbie Mainoo, Oyedele, and Dan Gore.

In Wednesday night’s FA Youth Cup semi-final against Wolves, the midfield consisted of Mainoo, Gore and Hansen-Aaroen — with the former two playing slightly deeper than the Norwegian who was operating as a roaming number ten.

They were a vital cog in the system under Binnion at Old Trafford, tasked with preventing Wolves from central progression. The pair needed to be aggressive in the tackle and then smart in possession.

After Colin Little revealed that the team were told that they needed to play like men in this fixture, he highlighted the role of the two parading midfield players.

They played with real maturity.” Little told UtdDistrict. “They had to be aware of the counter attacks, they couldn’t just get lost in the game. That can happen with young players, they get the ball and think they’re in every attack, but actually sometimes they’re not, they’re there in case we lose it.

I thought they put some fires out, mopped up counter attacks quite well.”

At 16, Mainoo is mature beyond his years on the football pitch. The midfielder was brought into the under-18s set-up towards the back end of last season and has since been a valued member of the side.

The skilful player who wore the number six shirt for United resembles a young Paul Pogba. In the build-up for United’s first against Wolves, Mainoo used his body to turn one player and then a quick pass inside to Sam Mather.

Kobbie is a top player and a good lad as well.” Gore spoke on his midfield partner. “We work well with each other. If one is out of position the other will fill in. We work well for each other, we talk a lot to each other and the boys – give encouragement.

Me and Kobbie have played with each other for a long time, we have a good connection, and we know each other very well.”

Gore, a year Mainoo’s senior, scored a bullet header against Salford City in the FA Youth Cup last season.

The short yet robust midfielder has the quality in possession but also an aggressive bite that is needed for a player of his stature.

In the first half on Wednesday, Gore yelped when Tyler Roberts of Wolves left one in on him off the ball.

It was moments later where the ball popped out towards the touchline and the United midfielder launched Roberts into the air after he cleared the ball for a throw-in with a slide tackle.

The exciting winger for the visitors was soon after halted in transition with Gore blocking his run and earning himself a yellow card in doing so. Yet, his defensive actions continued to be impressive which gave him the opportunity to find passes through the lines when on the ball.

Speaking on Gore in particular, Little praised the midfielder’s training levels and being able to bring that to the Old Trafford pitch.

He’s been absolutely brilliant.” He stated. “You get what you see with Dan Gore. He brings it to training every day, he is competitive, combative, he is a really good footballer. He has been progressing really well, like the others.

The talent levels in the middle of the park for Manchester United at youth level are a real bonus for the club.

While there’s not much to be excited about at the moment for Ralf Rangnick’s men, there is something special when watching the academy at the moment.

The club need to ensure that they make the correct decisions regarding the first-team in the coming years, so that these such players can flourish and develop in a much-improved environment to the ones that recent predecessors such as Marcus Rashford or Scott McTominay had gone through.

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