When you think of Manchester United, one of the defining characteristics that often comes to mind is their commitment to nurturing young talent through their youth academy.
One player who stood out as possessing the right mentality for success as an academy product, according to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, was Brandon Williams. During the first part of the 2019/2020 season, Williams made a significant impact as a left-back, consistently delivering strong performances for the Red Devils.
However, since that time, his opportunities with the Manchester United first team have become limited, and he currently finds himself on loan at Ipswich Town. Another player who shares similarities with Williams is Alvaro Fernandez, who also showed promise but was subsequently sent out on loan.
United’s Challenge at Left-Back
Both Williams and Fernandez could have proven valuable options for United, especially considering the team’s challenges at the left-back position, which have been evident to everyone.
After Fernandez played a crucial role in helping Granada secure a draw against Barcelona, United fans have started to question whether the teenager should have been given more opportunities. Similarly, Williams made an impact at Ipswich, contributing a stunning goal with a remarkable run from the halfway line.
Instead of giving these promising defenders a chance, especially when Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia were sidelined with injuries, United opted to sign Sergio Reguilon from Tottenham Hotspur. While Reguilon has performed reasonably well for the Red Devils, his history of injury concerns remains a potential issue.
Transfer Market Missteps
The responsibility for these decisions falls on both Manchester United and Erik ten Hag. The Dutch manager had an opportunity to utilize these talents but approved their loan moves instead.
Rather than showing trust in their renowned youth academy, which has been a cornerstone of the club for decades, United chose to bring in external signings.
James Garner, another former academy graduate, serves as another example. He is currently excelling at Everton, filling a position that Manchester United seems keen to strengthen in the upcoming summer. Garner has already contributed with a goal and an assist this season and could have been a valuable squad option.
United, along with Ten Hag, must start believing in these academy players who demonstrate glimpses of their immense potential and refrain from taking unnecessary risks in the transfer market.
Hopefully, this shift in mentality from the former Ajax boss will be exemplified early on by players like Hannibal Mejbri.