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Jason Wilcox highlights unexpected problem at Man United, and Erik ten Hag agrees



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Credit: Man Utd

Manchester United technical director Jason Wilcox has highlighted one unexpected problem at Old Trafford over the last season.

Wilcox, 53, entered the building at United in April after his move from Southampton to come the club’s new technical director.

He has been busy in recent months and has been tasked with providing an assessment of the first-team squad under Erik ten Hag, as well as outlining the playing style the club will be using going forward.

One of the things Wilcox would’ve certainly noticed since he joined is the use of academy or young players in the first-team environment.

The former Manchester City academy director was present at Wembley last weekend to watch Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo score against his ex-team to win the FA Cup in the final game of the season.

Mainoo and Garnacho – as well as the likes of Rasmus Højlund and Willy Kambwala – have been important first-team players this term.

Yet, according to The Athletic, United’s reliance on such young players over the last season has not gone unnoticed among staff at Carrington.

In fact, Wilcox has pointed to the high number of minutes that the younger members of the squad have played this season during internal conversations.

Garnacho started the joint-most games last term, while Mainoo started the final 22 Premier League matches in a row after returning from injury in November.

The report added that Ten Hag is already aware of this issue and has sought to ease the burden on players like Garnacho, Mainoo and Højlund when possible.

The manager has been previously criticised for substituting those young talents in games and has always cited protection as the main factor.

Improved depth will likely be one factor that Ten Hag highlights as a fix to the issue. Mainoo is currently the only midfielder with several crucial skillsets – such as ball-carrying and press resistance – and so he has been relied on more than initially expected.

United are conducting their end-of-season review and then Ten Hag will be told whether he will be taking the Old Trafford project further or not.