Willy Kambwala made his Manchester United debut on Saturday in a 2-0 loss against West Ham, and his teammates displayed shockingly poor leadership in a key moment.
It was 18-year-old Kobbie Mainoo who made a rare mistake to allow The Hammers to capitalise and score their second of the game.
The midfielder’s performance was described as ‘very good’ by Paul Scholes despite the mistake, and it is something that will come with the inclusion of youth talent into an unstable first-team environment.
Otherwise, Mainoo has had an excellent impact so far but was visibly frustrated with himself after United conceded following his mistake.
BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Mark Chapman noticed that not one senior United player approached the academy graduate following his error, and instead, debutante Kambwala was the only one to display any kind of leadership skills at the moment.
“I’m just watching the TV pictures of the aftermath, and he took it well, did Kudus, but the ball was given away by Kobbie Mainoo, and that can happen to a young player, it just rolled under his foot,” began Chapman.
“He’s there biting his shirt, knowing that he’s the one who has made the mistake, and the player that goes up to him to give him a little tap and go ‘right, come on’ is (Willy) Kambwala, the centre half who is 19 and is making his debut. Not one of the senior players, the young lad who is making his debut!”
The fact that an academy player making his debut for the club is the one who takes such responsibility into their own hands is ridiculous. Bruno Fernandes, captain of the club, was often chasing the referee around the pitch to contest decisions but was nowhere to be seen when Mainoo needed support following that mistake.
Mainoo has been praised by his United teammates in recent weeks for his maturity, but they cannot shirk their roles as experienced players within the squad, even if the teenager plays with more composure and quality than most of them.
The character of Mainoo suggests that a mistake will not impact him too much going forward. Nevertheless, Kambwala’s intervention, in what was a big moment for him personally, highlighted the poor leadership within this United squad.
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