Last Match: United 1-0 Leicester (Mitchell)
A fabulous winning goal from Demetri Mitchell rounded off a real smash and grab performance for United. With no out-and-out strikers on the pitch, this really dented the exciting attacking play that the team generated last season. The lack of creativity in midfield was also telling when goalkeeper Sam Johnstone was claiming the assist for the winning goal.
United were missing a significant number of players for many different reasons; Ro-Shaun Williams: injured, El Fitouri: Injured, Goss: Injured, Periera, Wilson, Keane and Blackett all curiously vacant. Although the squad did receive a boost as Borthwick-Jackson and his dinosaur run returned to the side.
Leicester themselves had three ex-reds in their ranks with Matty James, Tom Lawrence and Ritchie De Laet all turning out for the side in blue.
The Foxes had a lot of the ball, but with a strong back-four and Redmond sitting just in front of them it limited United’s attack just as much as it did Leicester’s, making for a dull affair.
Warren Joyce does well to drill his teams with the utmost discipline and he knows how to set them up perfectly after years of having his best attacking player plucked from his grasp. One of them, Rashford was in the stands.
It was a far cry from last season’s 6-1 rout which saw Marcus Rashford’s first goal at under-21 level. As Sam Johnstone continued to make save after save denying just about everything Leicester threw at them. Regan Poole also made a telling contribution with some excellent last ditch blocks.
The more Leicester pressed forward the less they left back, and Joyce saw his chance bringing on one of the few attacking players at his disposal in Demi Mitchell. After a tame shot from Ritchie De Laet, Johnstone took the ball and quickly punted it to Mitchell who produced a stunning half-volley lob from 30 yards to all but win the game for United.
The way the goal came about epitomised the performance in every way, but the sheer quality of it instantly erased all memory of what was a dismal match. Demi Mitchell more than made up for his awful penalty miss from his last time out at Leigh Sports Village and staked his claim to become the squad’s number 9 this season too.
Man of the Match: He must have touched the ball more times than most outfield players as Sam Johnstone produced a string of fine saves to deny Leicester all game long. Then he went on to produce an assist for the winning goal, not bad for a keeper.
Talking Point: If the line-up remains the same as last night, we are in for a long campaign. The lack of strikers and any real attacking threat from midfield is a worry, with Rashford in the first team and Wilson and Keane no where to be seen you question who is going to step up and start scoring the goals for the reserves side this term.
Line up: Johnstone, Riley, Poole, Tuanzebe, Borthwick-Jackson, Olosunde, Harrop, Redmond, Willock, Kehinde, Weir
Subs: Henderson, Mitchell (Olosunde), Whelan, Tanner, Scott
Demi Mitchell's goal from tonight pic.twitter.com/O00ncb1Hkn
— United Reserves (@unitedreserves_) August 15, 2016
United’s affiliation with Sunderland continued last week as we saw three youth players head north. Paddy McNair and Donald Love signed permanent deals for Moyes’ side with a combined worth of £5.5million, a good fee for the club’s two 21-year olds.
McNair performed excellently on his debut and throughout the 2014/15 season, one of his finest moments was a memorable goal-saving diving headed clearance against West Ham. Since he has developed into a solid midfielder thanks to Michael O’Neil at Northern Ireland and Warren Joyce. This move should benefit McNair with guaranteed football at a high level.
Donald Love only made 2 first-team appearances for United, however he was a reserve side veteran, shortlisted as one of the three players of the season last year. Love has plenty to offer Sunderland; his resilience, consistency and Scottish background make him very suited to David Moyes.
The third player as you may well know is Adnan Januzaj, who joined on a season-long loan. Sunderland fans outdid United’s in the lyrical sense with a brilliant Stone Roses chant for their new Belgian who’s move seems to have excited the Mackems. With over 50 appearances for the club Januzaj hasn’t been short of first-team chances, but he never seems to have surpassed his debut brace. Mourinho claimed the mercurial winger is still in his plans, although I feel the loan move prefigures a permanent departure. I would like to be wrong, however.
Expect a few more loan moves, and possibly some permanent ones before August 31st. Andreas Pereira, James Wilson, Tyler Blackett and Will Keane seem to be stuck in limbo between Warren Joyce and Jose Mourinho’s sides as loan moves beckon. The Manchester Evening News this week linked Joshua Harrop with Port Vale and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson with West Bromich Albion, so we will have to wait and see what happens there.
Under-19’s PSV Otten Cup Bravado
The under-19s took part in the PSV Otten Cup last weekend, the tournament was hosted by PSV Eindhoven and ran over three-days in Holland. After produced some excellent football and results, United fell short in the final losing to Anderlecht on penalties in controversial fashion.
The tournament saw debut’s for Tahith Chong and his afro and recent acquisition from Brentford and England under-17 international Joshua Bohui. The first game was a 1-0 loss to hosts PSV on the Friday. However the next day saw a 1-0 victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach, Callum Gribbin with the winner from the penalty spot.
Just hours later on the same day United progressed into the semi-finals with a 1-1 draw with Chivas Guadalajara, Aidy Barlow with the goal. Barcelona then stood in the way of United and the final and the team produced a great display to overturn the Catalonian side. Callum Gribbin scored an amazing solo goal, foreshadowing what could be a breakthrough season this year.
The final against Anderlecht, which was being played out a few hours before the first-team’s trip to Wembley at the Community Shield, finished 0-0 despite Anderlecht being reduced to 10 men. This red card is what turned out to be a controversial factor in the eventual penalty shootout. Due to them having one less player the referee’s denied Indy Boonen to take a penalty therefore hindering United with no fault of their own, Anderlecht went on to win 7-8, although It was a good confidence and fitness boost on the continent for the under-19s nonetheless.
Callum Gribbin's wondergoal against Barcelona in the Otten Cup pic.twitter.com/NMWLbQreAj
— United Reserves (@unitedreserves_) August 10, 2016
Southampton u23 v United u23 / Monday 22nd August / 7pm / St Mary’s Stadium