Last Match: United 4-0 Oldham

United progressed to the semi-final of the Manchester Senior Cup after a comfortable 4-0 victory over Oldham behind closed doors.

The game was behind closed doors at Carrington, having only seen the highlights the full report is on the official website. Andreas Pereira opened the scoring with his 5th goal of the season with a long range effort following a mistake from the keeper. Adnan Januzaj then gave the manager something to think about scoring two fine goals, including one from outside the box on his weaker foot. 

United were 3-0 up by half-time as it seemed like the players were merely having a training exercise at Carrington rather than a cup quarter final. Regan Poole added another in the scored half, getting his first goal in a United shirt sealed an effortless victory. United will face Bury in the semi-final date TBC. 

Line Up: Pereira, El Fitouri, McNair, Poole, Riley, Love, McTominay, Pereira, Rothwell, Mitchell, Januzaj

Subs: Henderson, Scott, Reid, Warren, Kehinde

Talking Point: Mini Old Trafford?

You may have seen recently Jamie Jackson of the Guardian report on United’s decision against a smaller stadium next to Old Trafford for the youth teams. The club haven’t ruled it out but it does not seem a priority during the academy reshuffle. Personally I think a miniature stadium would be a perfect starting point in terms of youth team facilities during the transition. Trafford Park has plenty of space for a stadium next door to the ground and the club certainly has enough funds to construct one.

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Currently the under-18s play at Carrington and occasionally Moss Lane in Altrincham. The under-21 side have been ambling around Greater Manchester playing at Gigg Lane, Ewan Fields, Moss Lane, Salford City Stadium and most recently Leigh Sports Village. With significant fixtures moved to Old Trafford, which seems to have the most favourable location in terms of attendance. Averaging between 1-3k, however over 11,000 watched the under-21 side thrash Man City 4-0 last May, thats more than some Championship matches.

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Having visited Manchester City’s Academy Stadium to see United last season, I have to confess a hint of jealously. It holds 8k and hosts the under-21 side as well as the women’s team. In Germany this season, Wolfsburg had a similar model right next to the Volkswagen Arena. Barcelona also have the ‘Mini Estadi’ next to the Nou Camp. It shows clubs commitment to youth football by investing in facilities and providing supporters with the means to regularly attend games. It’s time for United to catch up in terms of facilities and a dedicated ground for the youth teams to play would be a positive start.

Player Focus: Timothy Fosu-Mensah

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Signed from the prestigious Ajax Youth Academy for £285k, Fosu-Mensah’s arrival generated excitement throughout the academy. Born in Amsterdam from Ghanaian decent he joined the Ajax Academy froma  young age and has also represented the Netherlands up to under-19 level. Incidentally TF-M also has a brother Alfons Fosu-Mensah who plays for Colwyn Bay FC in Wales. Timothy however, has impressed after stepping up to the under-21 side this season making 13 appearences so far and also scored his first goal against Norwich. His form caught the attention of Van Gaal seeing him make his first-team debut against Arsenal the other week.

His playing style is dynamic and physical, when his 6″2 frame sets off running with the ball there is no stopping him. He began in the under-18 side as a no. 10, however he has since worked his way back and is now a regular centre back for the under-21s. Often seen with his socks rolled down he has a strong tackle, which was demonstrated in his performance against Watford. It was brilliant to see how unfazed he was playing for the first-team, he showed no fear and certainly wasn’t reluctant to throw himself about.

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His size and physicality mixed with athleticism and ability with the ball has seen him compared to the likes of Paul Pogba and Patrick Viera. He certainly has a bright future ahead of him, this season he has made 1 start and 2 appearances off the bench for the first-team, I’m yet to see him have a bad game. His composure on the ball, strength, reading of the game and ability to play well wherever required are the ideal attributes for any manager. He still has to learn the English game but he certainly looks to have a future within the first-team at United.

Loan Watch:

Another great week for Ashley Fletcher who is thriving on loan at Barnsley. He managed to get his 4th goal for the Tykes on the weekend, running at defenders, beating them and finishing well as he helped Barnsley beat Walsall 3-1.

When Fletcher joined the club on the 9th January Barnsley were a lowly 18th in League 1, since then they have shot up to 6th. All the while they lost their manager and also set up a trip to Wembley in the Johnstones Paint Trophy final. Fletcher has not been the sole reason for this but he has been a big threat for them up front and seems to be endearing himself to the supporters. 

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James Wilson has become a bit anonymous on the South Coast as he seems to be recovering from a minor injury, coming on for 15 minutes in Brighton’s 0-0 draw at Deepdale. Nick Powell had a quiet 30 minutes for Hull as they lost 1-0 away to Birmingham, he picked up a knock after clashing heads with Per Mertesacker during his first start as Hull lost 4-0 to Arsenal. O’Hara is still second choice at Morecambe as they drew 1-1 with Crawley. Tyler Blackett did not make the squad for Celtic as they beat minnows Morton 3-0 in the cup. If he’s not playing against them you wonder when he will.

Next Match: Liverpool (A)

United travel to Birkenhead where they face Liverpool at Prenton Park. The game has been rearranged from Sunday and is now Friday 11th March, 7pm kick off.