Nick Powell signed for Manchester United in the summer of 2012 for a deal that was worth up to £6 million for Crewe Alexandra.
Most United fans didn’t know much about him but had seen his brilliant goal at Wembley against Cheltenham Town which secured his club’s place in League One for the following season when he was just 18 years old.
Powell made his debut for United in the September after signing and scored against Wigan.
“It was great to make my debut,” he said after the game. “To then cap it off with a goal is what I’ve been working for. Dario (Gradi, Crewe’s director of football) used to say my game isn’t just attacking and defending, it’s about goals as well and I proved that last season and hopefully I can do that for United. My dad will keep me in touch, I’ll tell you that. I’m just going to go home, have this great feeling and I’ll keep myself on the ground. When I first came on it scared me a little bit, to be fair, because I’m only used to 5,000 people now and then, but it’s a great atmosphere – the fans are great. It wasn’t the hardest game because they made it easier for me but I’m happy to be on the pitch getting minutes. I learn every day, especially from the midfielders – Scholes, Carrick, Giggsy – they’re all great, they’ve all been through it and won trophies. That’s what I want to do, so I hope to learn off them every day.”
Sadly, that optimism about staying grounded has faded away, with Powell receiving criticism from the clubs he has been loaned out to.
All the signs had looked promising, with Powell posting a picture of his Vauxhall Corsa the following month when it passed its MOT. He didn’t give the impression of a flashy football, rather a grounded down to earth lad who just loved his football.
Powell went on loan to Wigan in his second season at United and scored an impressive 12 goals in all competitions, including three goals in six games in the Europa League.
Owen Coyle generally used Powell as a lone striker and Uwe Rosler played him both as a lone striker and as a wide forward in a 4-3-3 formation
Despite being the club’s top scorer, Powell struggled to get back in the team after recovering from an injury, and whispers in the media suggested this was down to the player’s attitude. He rarely started for Wigan following this injury and Wigan fans were critical of his performances when he did play.
Powell was missing for Wigan’s play-off against QPR at the end of last season after pleading guilty to a drink and drive charge. He was handed a 14-month driving ban and ordered to pay a £5,000 fine.
The youngster signed for Leicester on a season long loan this season, with Powell insisting that he was desperate to leave United on loan so that he could play regularly. He has played in just three games for Leicester though, playing a total of 40 minutes, and struggled to leave any lasting impression.
Reports this week have claimed that that Leicester’s manager, Nigel Pearson, is ready to terminate Powell’s loan with the club. Powell has reportedly infuriated Pearson and his backroom team with his attitude in training and general timekeeping since joining on loan in September.
Ferguson once likened Powell to Paul Scholes, amongst the most unassuming professional footballers the game has ever seen, so where has it all gone wrong?
Reports suggests that Powell is in talk with Bolton Wanderers for a loan move from now until the end of the season.