U18s endure mixed start to the 2019/20 season, which can only get better…

U18s endure mixed start to the 2019/20 season, which can only get better…

Manchester United’s U19s started their season with players moving up into the U23s and others spending their first full season in this age group. There will be changes every year at this level with those who are nearing the age of 18 looking to take their chances in the U23s and continue their development, either at United or elsewhere.

U18 coach, Neil Ryan replaced Kieran McKenna at this level in the summer of 2018 after the latter became a coach under Jose Mourinho in the first team. Ryan’s first season in charge of the U18s saw his Sid finish fourth in the U18 Premier League – eight points adrift of eventual winners, Derby County.

The season started on Saturday 10 August 2019 with United beating Sunderland 3-0 at the Aon Training Complex in Carrington. In that match, Charlie McCann scored from the penalty spot, Anthony Elanga doubles United’s lead with Charlie Wellens scoring the third goal in the victory. United were seeking to continue that run.

The second match of the season was played a week later on Saturday 17 August away to Wolverhampton Wanderers. It was United’s first defeat of the season at this level, losing 2-0. In the third match of the season, United were once again at home with Blackburn Rovers heading to the Aon Training Complex.

United won this match 3-1 with Anthony Elanga scoring a brace and Dillon Hoogewerf scoring his first goal for his new club. A late consolation from Blackburn meant United were not able to keep a clean sheet in the match. Liverpool away was up next for United, which like every previous season would be a fierce match because of the rivalry.

United lost 4-3 against Liverpool in a match which saw United equalise minutes after Liverpool scored with Ayodeji Sotona levelling the first time, and Wellens scoring the second and third equalising goal. The match was lost in the final minute with an own goal, which was a shame for United. United will face Derby County away on Saturday (14/9).

With four matches played and six points on the board, United will be seeking to a return to winning ways against the U18 Premier League champions on Saturday, which might show that this age group already have the mentality to succeed at this level. It will be a tough match and probably a tough season with United aiming to do better than last.

The top scorer of the 2019/20 season so far is jointly held between Elanga and Wellens with both players scoring three goals each. Then with one goal each, Hoogewerf, McCann, and Sotona sit with their efforts. Ryan will be happy with the goals which have been scored, however, he will be seeking for more as United take on better opposition.

In terms of assists, both Elanga and Mark Helm have two each with Reece Devine, who was sent off against Liverpool, also having one. Ryan will need to look at the depth of his squad in order to overcome Derby this weekend with Devine missing from the squad due to suspension. United will be up for the fixture though, against the reigning champions.

Nine players in the squad have played in all of the four matches played so far this season, with just five of those playing each minute across the four matches. Ondrej Mastny, Ben Hockenhull, Reece Devine, Charlie McCann, and Mark Helm have played each minute of the four matches with Lukasz Bejger, Charlie Wellens, Connor Stanley, and Dillon Hoogewerf playing in each of the four matches played.

I am sure that Anthony Elanga, who has already featured twice for the U23s this season and Teden Mengi, who has also played twice at that level, will have Neil Wood, Quinton Fortune and Nicky Butt watching them if they continue to play U18 football this season. With Elanga scoring three times already this season, he’s clearly a player with the talent and ability to find a goal, or three.

It will be good to see these players grow with the team this season, one player in particular with pressure already being applied to his development will be Harvey Neville, the son of Phil Neville and nephew of Gary Neville. Personally, I am looking forward to seeing more of Hoogewerf, Elanga, and after their performances so far this season, Wellens and Helm. This will be an exciting season for the U18s.

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