United beat Orlando Pirates this evening, with a Lee Martin goal giving us the needed 1-0 victory. This pre-season can be regarded as somewhat of a ‘last chance saloon’ for some of our players, who are creeping in to their 20’s, have spent some time away on loan, and are looking to break in to the first team.
Wingers Chris Eagles and Lee Martin are two of these players, who would fancy filling the boots Ryan Giggs will be vacating soon enough.
However, do they really have what it takes to become first team players? Ferguson contemplated over their future after the final whistle tonight.
“I felt the first half hour was very good but our performance levelled out and I think credit to Orlando Pirates,” he said. “It was a tough match that we needed as it brings us up on our fitness and the speed of our game. I don’t want players to be completely fit now. I need them to find their fitness in the opening match of the league campaign in August. I thought, in the first half, Martin and Eagles played very well but, with most of the team, they became a little bit tired and their concentration went a little. They’ve got talent and are young players. Martin is 20 and Eagles is 22. They’ve not got a lot of experience as their careers have been a bit fragmented over the last two or three years. They’ve been on loan and Martin has got injuries and missed a lot of last season. He needs a lot of football now at his age. All young players want to do is play.”
Like most reds, I am eager to see any youngsters make the progression from the Reserves to the first team, but there’s a nagging feeling these two won’t make it. I’ve been disappointed to see Danny Simpson have such limited game time, as I think he really is a player who can make it. Today, he came on for an injured Johnny Evans for the final few minutes, so wasn’t given much opportunity shine.
In contrast, Eagles and Martin got a full 90 minutes under their belt, but didn’t impress in the way we might have hoped. Whilst Martin will be rightly happy with his goal tonight, a good finish under pressure, it was his saving moment in a game where he offered plenty of effort, but little end product.
Equally, Eagles tried the fancy flicks and footwork, but just didn’t look entirely convincing. Sometimes he pulled it off, sometimes he failed miserably, and his whole performance was just a little too ‘try hard’.
The pair of them lost the ball too easily and essentially, just didn’t look United quality. Now, not to judge them too harshly, because all of our players look sluggish, however, not all of our players are desperately trying to make the jump from the Reserves to the first team squad, so I expect more from the youngsters.
For Eagles in particular, this is make or break for him, with reports before the tournament suggesting he was on his way to Burnley. He is the same age as Wayne Rooney, who has played in close to 200 Premiership games, whilst Eagles just has 6 Premiership appearances to his name. He needs to impress big time, and he needs to do it now.
Two games in to our South African tour, two goals in our favour, with Martin and Eagles the scorers. But do they have a future with the club?