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I watched Manchester United’s FA Youth Cup defeat and learnt two things about the academy



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Manchester United’s under-18s will not repeat the heroics in 2022 after their shock FA Youth Cup exit against Swindon Town.

The likes of Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo were able to perform in front of 69,000 supporters at Old Trafford when they won the final against Nottingham Forest.

It was an excellent evening for the United players and fans – and a game that none of those players will ever forget.

So far this season, the Under-18s have won all eleven of their league fixtures and have looked equally as exciting as the team from the two years ago.

However, on Tuesday evening, they were knocked out of the competition by Swindon’s youth side following a valiant performance from the hosts, who are several tiers below United’s academy.

Being at the match, there were two main things which I learnt about Manchester United’s youth side during the game.

Inconsistency is natural

Perhaps those who have been following the Under-18s so far this season have been spoiled. Their incredible league form so far has masked the fact that there are always inconsistencies at youth level.

That early inconsistency was being mixed with a rare environment – hostility. Over 2,000 were in attendance at the County Ground, and once the hosts were up 1-0, the crowd really got themselves into the game, and some United players showed their nerves and frustrations as the game went on.

Harry Amass and Jack Fletcher are two technically brilliant players, but made many simple mistakes on the evening. Experiences like that are exactly what the players will learn from ahead of their journey towards the professional game.

The main difference with 2022 team

Of course, in recent months, this side has been compared to the 2022 team, but there are clear differences.

Whilst both sides excelled in their own way, Garnacho and Co in the cup competition and this team in the league, this side has seemed like more of a unit throughout the season so far.

Defensively, they are stronger overall, and they also have a good midfield balance, but on Tuesday evening, they were missing the kind of magic that Alejandro Garnacho and Charlie McNeill offered the Youth Cup-winning side.

Gabriele Biancheri and Shea Lacey were not involved, and it showed as United struggled to unlock the strong Swindon defence.