Manchester United’s FA Cup win huge for young squad

Manchester United’s FA Cup win this season is a huge hurdle its young squad has overcome.

The Reds beat Crystal Palace 2-1 after extra time at Wembley to claim their first trophy since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013. For the majority of the United’s young players, it has been their first season in the senior squad and early success will be huge for their development. A total of 10 players under the age of 25 have made their debut this season alone (including new signings). Although many of the academy graduates have won things at youth level, nothing can compare to senior success.

The famous class of 92 won two Premier League titles and an FA Cup in their first two seasons before going on to help the club achieve one of its most successful periods to date. Early success can only further strengthen a team’s spirit and helps overall squad growth. This season’s cup triumph also helps to end any talk of a baron trophyless run after three years without a title. It prevents pressure mounting regarding when a first senior winners’ medal for many of the squad will come.

As well as providing a huge confidence boost and belief for the squad, it also gives the players a taste of success which can only fuel their desire for more. Under Ferguson, a title-winning season would usually lead to further success the following season. This has become part of the club’s DNA, whilst continuing in the traditions and exceptions. The younger players can only grow having met these expectations to a certain extent while success also endears younger players further to fans.

Back in 2011, I wrote an article about there being a bright, young future at Old Trafford after a number of young players were either signed or promoted to the first team. That side went onto to win a Premier League title, following missing out on goal difference the previous year. Coming from two goals down at Wembley to win the Community Shield 3-2 against Manchester City had an invaluable effect on the newly formed squad’s resolve.

As Jose Mourinho takes over at Old Trafford next season, he can surely not ignore the club’s promising youth at his disposal – especially after winning the FA Cup. Louis van Gaal has followed in the club’s philosophy of promoting youth and hopefully this squad can continue to progress. Although much of United’s young side are yet to experience the success of winning the Premier League, this victory will only help with future title pursuits.

U21s – Manchester United 4-1 Bolton Wanderers

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Manchester United in action against Bolton
Manchester United fought back from a goal down against Bolton Wanderers to finish comfortable 4-1 winners in the Under-21 Premier League.

Will Keane marked his return from long term injury to score the equaliser – following a Conor Wilkinson opener for the visitors – just before half time. The Reds were much improved in the second half with a goal from Tom Thorpe and two from Jesse Lingard.

Bolton started brightly and almost went ahead when Jan Gregus’ free-kick clipped the bar. Soon after United conceded a penalty when Ben Amos brought down Tom Youngs in the penalty area. With the same two players involved, the Reds’ keeper made up for his error with a fantastic save to his left denying Youngs.

The Lancashire side took the lead when Wilkinson finished with a left-footed driving effort. Will Keane netted the equaliser after Larnell Cole’s effort on goal from a corner hit Lingard and fell kindly for Keane who smashed the ball home.

The hosts doubled their tally when Lingard delivered a side-footed effort, from a Tyler Blackett cut-back, past Jay Lynch in the Wanderers goal. Adnan Januzaj, who made his Premier League debut for the first team at the weekend, put in another impressive display in front of David Moyes, and it was the Belgians free-kick which Thorpe headed home for the third goal.

The scoring was complete when Lingard won the ball inside the opposition half and impressively went alone, finishing with a low drive past the keeper for his second of the night.

With six points from three games for Michael Joyce’s side, tonight’s win moves them up to eighth in The Barclays Under-21 Premier League a point off Wolves and Arsenal.

Barclays Premier League Under-21, top 10

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Barclays U21 Premier League: Competition format explained