Hi I’m Masa United.
21-22 FA Youth Cup Final. United U-18 faced Nottingham Forest U-18 at Old Trafford. The match ended 3-1 with a goal from captain Bennett and two goals from ace Alejandro Garnacho to beat Forrest 3-1. 。 In 2011, it was the first glory since the Pogba and Lingard generations achieved it. The Young Reds, led by Travis Binion, played majestically in front of a crowd of 67,492 assembled at the Theatre of Dreams. They defeated Forrest, coached by former United Academy leader Warren Joyce, to win the trophy.
*Click here for match highlights
This season, the U-18 have made impressive strides not only in the Youth Cup but also in the U-18 Premier League. This time, we will tell you the secret of their strength, dubbed “Class of 22”!
The following items are included.
(1) Summary of the final round
Over 67,000 spectators. Tickets were priced at just £1, but it’s probably unheard of for a youth level match to attract this many spectators. This final was a high-profile event, but the United U-18 showed the audacity to incite the crowd and become allies rather than be afraid. It’s been 11 years since the 11th and last time they won the championship with Pogba and Lingard. Class Of 22 accomplished a feat. Before we dive into the secrets of its strength, let’s summarize the finals.
See above for the lineup. The system was a 4-2-3-1, the same starting line-up as the semi-final against Wolves, which they won 3-0. Garnacho (11*shirt number), the No. 1 player in the spotlight who has scored five goals so far in this tournament, and striker Charlie McNeill (9) were among the top picks, as well as Coby Mainoo (6), known as Next Pogba, and Norwegian sorcerer Isaac Hansen-Aaron (10). The 17-year-old Garnacho made his first-team debut in the Premier League matchday 37 against Chelsea, a few minutes away, but it was the FA Youth Cup that sparked his break, including a call-up to the Argentina national team. In that sense, the level of attention paid to Garnacho was outstanding, and it was also noticed that it would literally be “Garnacho’s tournament”.
* Learn more about Garnacho!
In the match, Hansen and Mainoo showed aggressive spirit from the start. In the 13th minute, Hansen’s sharp dribbling led to a foul and a free kick. Left SB Sam Murray (3) kicked the ball and CB captain Reese Bennett (5) headed in to open the scoring. After that, Garnacho fired a shot from Mynu’s pass, and United continued to dominate the game. However, near the end of the first half, Joshua Powell (7) missed a shot from keeper Radek Vitek (1). The score was tied at 1-1.Embed from Getty Images
Forrest created chances in the second half, but United quickly fought back. McNeil, Garnacho and Jurado(2) will take shots to delight the crowd at Strett Ford End. In the 64th minute, Hansen and McNeil were brought down and Maxi Oyedele (16) and Joe Hugill (17) were brought on. Even though we pushed in, we continued to be unable to score goals. Then, in the 77th minute, near the penalty box, Garnacho was brought down by Zach Abbott (2) and awarded a penalty. Garnacho decided this by himself and succeeded in overcoming! Here Garnacho wowed the crowd with Ronaldo’s ‘siuuuu’ goal performance. In the 94th minute of added time, Garnacho stole the ball in the attacking third and took it into the box and shot left-footed. This is 3-1! United won. We won the crown.Embed from Getty Images
(2) Recruiting with a Body-Tied Arm
Now, I would like to unravel the secret of the strength of the U-18. The secret of the first strength is “recruiting with a knot“. The U-18 team achieved great feats, but their roots lie two years ago. In September 2020, the world was in turmoil due to the impact of the corona pandemic, but John Matov took over as FD, including Solskjaer, the first-team coach at the time. was gradually undergoing internal reforms. The United Academy has always produced players who can play in the first team, led by the Beckham generation (Class of 92), but the impact of the turmoil following Ferguson’s departure can be seen at the academy level, and there have been times when promising players such as Adnan Januzai and James Wilson have not been able to make a big splash. In the meantime, the likes of City and Liverpool, which have implemented reforms in the development sector, are steadily gaining strength, and United, who should have a long day in “young development”, are being overtaken more and more.
To change that, Solskjaer will actively give young players opportunities in the first team and work with former allies Nicky Butt and Kieran McKenna, who are also in charge of the academy department, to reform them. Part of this is the “acquisition of players from overseas” in the youth age group that occurred in the summer of 2020. Coming to United that year were Alvaro Fernández (Spain), Marc Jurado (Spain), Isaac Hansen-Aaron (Norway), Radek Videk (Czech Republic), Willie Cambuwara (France) and Alejandro Garnacho (Spain).
Until then, youth academies were mainly targeted at domestic boys, and only a handful of foreign players were available, but in that year, six foreign players joined at once. Have. It is not easy to imagine how difficult it must have been for 16 or 17 young people to take on a new challenge abroad during the very difficult time of the coronavirus. However, all four of them, who are now 19 years old and did not make it to the Youth Cup final, and Kambuwara, who is only 16 years old and a future player, have all made it to the final. In addition to their own mentality, the clubs that coached and supported them deserve recognition.
In addition, in that year, we achieved remarkable results in domestic recruitment. The three players who joined that year were Charlie McNeill, Joe Hugill and Logan Pie. These three were also selected as members of the finals. McNeil, a “United fan” from City, is a highly anticipated striker. I had to leave the final after 64 minutes, but I was obviously not convinced by the substitution (laughs). The strength of this feeling is also a characteristic of McNeil. His combination with Garnacho was also outstanding, and McNeil, along with Garnacho, was a big driving force in reaching the final. Hugill, who came from Sunderland, also has an extra potential. Last season, at the age of 17, he scored 10 goals for the U-23s. Despite injuries this season and being overturned by McNeil, he is the team’s top scorer with 12 goals in the U-18 era.Embed from Getty Images
In this way, it can be said that this victory is the fruit of the seeds sown two years ago. There is no doubt that the improvement of recruiting ability in the youth age group has led to the strengthening of the academy. However, the same thing did not happen this season as the UK left the EU on 31 December 2020, making it impossible to acquire players under the age of 18 from overseas. Still, he has a strong domestic eye on the domestic side and acquired Ethan Ennis from Liverpool before the start of the season. In the winter transfer window, they bring in Toby Collier from Brighton. Ennis is also in the final squad and we expect Ennis to steal Garnacho’s share next season.
(3) Travis Binion
The second secret of strength is U-18 coach Travis Binion. Former Sheffield United academy manager Binion was appointed head coach of United’s U-14~16 squad in 2019 and was appointed U-18 manager before the start of the season. At Shef U, Vinion has led the Youth, U-18 and U-23 academies, and is best known for mentoring the likes of Harry Maguire, David Brooks, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Aaron Ramsdale.Embed from Getty Images
Binion took over U-18 from Neil Ryan (now U-23 assistant) this season, but it wasn’t smooth sailing from the start. They lost 3-0 to City in the opening match of the U-18 Premier League and then suffered a 5-0 defeat against Liverpool. Physically, technically, mentally, tactically, it was clear that these two teams were very inferior in all aspects. By the way, seven of the starters in the big defeat against Liverpool were the players who stood on the stage of this final. Just by looking at this fact, you can see how much Binion, the coaching staff and the players have grown over the course of a season.
As the season progresses, the organization gradually improves and the players begin to show their natural talents. After a draw against Boro on matchday 4, they won three in a row against Stoke, Newcastle and Wolves. There was also Hugill’s hat-trick against Newcastle. Garnacho went back and forth between the U-18 and U-23 and was not entirely a mainstay of the U-18s. The main mainstays of the team this season were Hugill, Norket, Mather, Mainoo, Ennis, Jurado, Bennett and Murray.
Vinion assigned positions to help the players’ personalities flourish, mainly in terms of pressing and building-up. The Academy’s squads are very fluid and membership is impossible to fix. Sometimes you have to send players to the U-23 and pull up players who are only 15 or 16 years old from the youth ranks to use them. Vinion’s team was not “stable” in such a situation, but the turning point was their breakthrough in the FA Youth Cup, with a 5-5 draw against Liverpool on matchday 20. Are. Against Liverpool, it was 4-1 until the 51st minute, but from there they came close to a one-goal lead thanks to goals from Kambuwara and Hughill. In the 76th minute, they conceded another goal to make it 5-3, but Ennis in the 81st minute and Hughgill scored again in the 89th minute to take the game to a draw.
The team showed a strong mentality in this match and went on to win the next five matches with four wins and one draw. As of 13 May, the U-18 Premier League has one game left, but United are in third place. They are 20 points behind first-placed City, but a head-to-head clash with fourth-placed Nottingham Forest in the final round will secure third place. And the final matchday on May 14. Despite a tough game in which they conceded the opener, Norket scored early in the second half to tie the game. The match ended in a 1-1 draw, with United retaining their third place on goal difference. In this match as well, I think they showed the tenacity that is characteristic of Binion U-18.
(4) Individual and tissue blending
The third secret is the “exquisite blend of individuals and organizations” that characterizes this team. The U-18 squad currently has many players with very high individual abilities and personalities. Garnacho the goal-scoring winger, McNeil the greedy striker, Hansen the technician and hard worker, Mainoo with both physical and technical, Daniel Gore with his passion, Bennett with Vidic’s strength and Rio’s composure, vice-captain Jurado, aggressive offensively and defensively, Mather with diagonal movement and vision, The starting line-up alone has a lot of character, including the inconspicuous but pretty cool 16-year-old Jackson, Murray with a high level of tactical understanding, and Vitek, who is tall, handsome and has a wide defensive range (laughs).
This final was a match that attracted Garnacho’s attention, but if you saw the U-18 match for the first time, you must have been intrigued by the dynamism of the other players. From the moment they lined up, Gore (8) was cheering out loud to the team. As a double pivote, we were balancing offense and defense, but we also participated well in the build-up and our hard work shone through in the defensive arena. Isn’t Hansen the most eye-catching player of the match? He’s really technical, and he’s always interested in it, but Hansen’s hallmark is his dedication. There aren’t many players who defend as well as No. 6 despite being No. 10. Mather (7) is also one of those whose dedication shone through. His characteristic is “diagonal”. He’s a very good player with a vector diagonally in his movements, passes, and dribbling. Like Garnacho, he is a winger with scoring ability, but he has a stronger sense of hard work.Embed from Getty Images
In this way, it is these hard workers who support this team. At the same time, he also has the dexterity to show his own characteristics firmly. And, as I wrote above, the ability to move in an organized manner under Coach Binion is also the secret of this team’s strength. It’s not a high-level tactic like a variable system, but the variety of the organized press and build-up is well trained. I think. Especially in the build-up, the CB spreads and pushes up SB, and the gore comes down between the open CBs, and the Mainoo goes down. It was seen that the Mather, the winger, would descend to Anchor. It was very smooth because it changed automatically depending on the placement of the opponent and the position of the ally. As you can see from the U-23 matches, the reason why the U-23s, who are equally highly capable of individual players, have not been able to produce the results they would like is because they have not been able to make this organized move.
It may seem obvious, but the way the players looked after the championship was decided showed how much they trust each other and how united they are as a team. That’s exactly what the first team lacks right now… And the U-18 team had absolute confidence. Of course, it was an overwhelming home, but it’s confidence in what we’ve been doing for a year. And I think it was also a conviction that “this path is not wrong.”
The Class of 22 brought the Youth Cup trophy to the club for the first time in 11 years this season, but the pressure on the team in the final must have been greater than it had ever been experienced at the academy level. Legends like Ferguson, Brian Robson and others in the stands are in the stands. Current players such as De Gea and Bruno, friends, family and a large crowd were watching. Nevertheless, they overcame the difficult situation of 1-1 with “the strength of the character (character)“.
Certainly, when you look at the U-18 level calmly, there is a difference in ability between City and Liverpool. As mentioned above, Liverpool have 10 points in the league. City are 20 points behind. But personally, I think the academy is not all about results. They are developing and in the midst of a growth cycle. It’s great to be successful as a team, but it’s more important to see if each person is growing. If you look at the results, I think it’s more valuable to win a tournament like this Youth Cup. It is a measure of personal growth and unity as a team.
The sight of him exploding with joy at the victory ceremony is something you can watch again and again… Nothing could be better, especially at the end of a season like this one in which the top team has been exposed to a bad look. The youngsters showed what the first team lacked. It reminded me of what this club is all about.Embed from Getty Images
The glory of this Youth Cup will be handed down to future generations. And they need to live a career that is not ashamed of this glory. Hopefully, in five years’ time, everyone on this team will be in the first team.
Thank you for reading until the end!