FOOTBALL NEWS

21/01/2014 18:35, Report by Adam Marshall
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Joyce bemoans U21s blank

Manchester United reserves coach Warren Joyce was disappointed with the Under-21s' performance in the 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough on Monday night.

The Reds failed to break down the Teessiders despite fielding a side containing experienced players like Fabio, Davide Petrucci, Federico Macheda, Jesse Lingard and Will Keane, with Wilfried Zaha coming off the bench.

"I don't think we passed the ball quickly enough, particularly in the first half," Joyce told MUTV. "We probably had numerous chances to score goals but there wasn't an urgency or a crispness of passing with people willing to run beyond the ball and run off the ball.

"The success we've had over the last four or five years was by building young players up to get them to know their jobs, with and without the ball. To pass with purpose and run with the intensity you expect from Manchester United.

"That has been our success but, this year, we've not in any way, shape or form had a settled group – a group settled enough to give us a real confidence we are going to produce the type of performance that is expected at this club."

Obvious issues include the ever-changing nature of the squad available to Joyce plus the lack of fixtures - this was United's first home game in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League since 8 November and that previous fixture (0-1 defeat to Stoke) was behind closed doors at the Aon Training Complex.

"With the way the fixture list has been, we've not had enough games," conceded Joyce.

"Obviously there has been the Under-19 competition (the UEFA Youth League) too so we don't seem to get the same team out for two games on the trot."

The Under-21s' next outing is another home game at the AJ Bell Stadium, against Manchester City next Monday evening. United are in seventh spot in the table, above the Blues on goal difference, and three points behind sixth-placed Southampton with two games in hand on the Saints.

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