Promising midfield man Ben Pearson gave his first major interview to Inside United...
How did you find the UEFA Youth League? It was obviously disappointing not to qualify..
It was a bit of a mismatched squad as we had a mix of youth-team players and first-team pros. We did have a week’s training as a group before each game but had not played together too much. So we did all right but every other other team we played had an Under-19 squad and it made things harder. We did okay in some parts of games but were disappointing in others. Nicky Butt said to us we had some excellent 45 minutes and some others were just poor.
Was the strict refereeing one part of the overall learning experience?
We had too many sendings off but every tackle seemed to result in a yellow card. I’m glad we played in it and just hope it can keep going for generations to come because it’s great experience. You play abroad, travel with the first team and are on the plane with them before going to the senior games that night.
Having had that experience, is your focus now on cementing a place in the Under-21 side?
Yes, a few people have gone out on loan and I’ve been waiting since the start of the season because we had a massive squad. Hopefully, I’ll get more game time and progress but we’ll see what happens. Darren Fletcher might play a few more games but hopefully he’ll be back with the first team regularly and things like that will give the young players more of an opportunity. A lot of players haven’t played many games because it’s been difficult with the UEFA Youth League and the fact we’ve not had many Under-21 league fixtures.
Of course, you have experience already of playing at that level – you started last year’s final..
I played against Tottenham at Old Trafford and just hope I can kick on this year and see what happens in terms of any game time coming up.
Are you celebrating a decade at the club?
Yes, I’ve been here since I was eight. I was out injured the year before last so that was hard but it actually helped. I started off by not playing much in my first year in the youth team and then got an illness. Coming back made me a bit hungrier. I wanted it a little more. I got straight back in the team and