Academy Weekly: Vital senior experience for Reds

Tuesday 21 December 2021 07:00

Despite two fixtures being postponed at the weekend, it’s been a packed week of Academy news.

From debuts in Lincolnshire to Man-of-the-Match displays in Qatar, there’s plenty to talk about in the latest Academy Weekly.

Read on for everything you need to know from the last seven days...


Congratulations to Hannibal

Hannibal faced final heartbreak with Tunisia as the Carthage Eagles were beaten 2-0 by Algeria in a dramatic FIFA Arab Cup final on Saturday afternoon.

Runners-up medal for Hannibal


Hannibal can feel proud after helping Tunisia push the winners Algeria all the way in the Arab Cup final.

The 18-year-old midfielder started all six games at the tournament for Tunisia, winning Man of the Match against the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

Algeria scored twice in extra-time in the final, Hannibal having been subbed off after 88 minutes. To be a key player for his country in such a high-level tournament is a fantastic achievement for Hannibal. The experience will prove an unforgettable one, but also a key learning tool for his burgeoning career.

With the Africa Cup of Nations, due to be held in Cameroon from 9 January to 6 February 2022, coming up, Hannibal will be hoping to have earned himself a place in the Tunisia squad.

Fixtures postponed

Our Under-23s’ game against Chelsea, due to be played on Friday 17 December, was called off. The two clubs came to a mutual decision to postpone the match as a precautionary measure.

The Under-18s were also without a game this weekend after Saturday’s match at West Bromwich Albion was postponed for the same reason.

FA Youth Cup fourth round scheduled

United will travel to Reading away from home in the FA Youth Cup fourth round and the match will be played on Thursday 13 January at 19:00 GMT.

United progressed in the FA Youth Cup with a 4-2 win against Scunthorpe United.

Loan watch

Midfielder James Garner‘s Nottingham Forest came up against defender Di’Shon Bernard’s Hull City at the weekend. Garner created a couple of chances for Forest as they came from behind in the second half to win 2-1.

Reece Devine played the full game for St. Johnstone as they were beaten 2-0 by Scottish Premiership table-toppers Rangers. Brandon Williams put in a good performance for Norwich City in a defeat by the same scoreline against Aston Villa, for whom Axel Tuanzebe came off the bench late on.

17-year-old striker Manni Norkett is training and playing with Northern Premier League club Gainsborough Trinity as the latest Academy player to take part in the Pro Experience Programme.

Manni’s debut came in the starting line-up on Saturday as Gainsborough beat Bamber Bridge by two goals. Manager Tom Shaw gave him 45 minutes at The Northolme after he’d made an immediate impression in training.

"We are very thankful and grateful to Manchester United and Travis Binnion for giving us the opportunity to have Manni with us for the coming weeks," Shaw told Gainsborough’s official club media.

"Manni plays with plenty of confidence and authority for such a young man and showed a real humility with how hard he worked. It will be an eye-opener for him when he takes the pitch at this level, but I feel we have the pleasure of a real prospect in our squad for a handful of games."

Norkett (right) has enjoyed good goalscoring form for the Under-18s this season.

Chong’s recovery

Tahith Chong’s recovery from a ruptured groin is progressing well, says Birmingham City manager Lee Bowyer.

The Dutch winger has been out of action for a couple of months, having shown fantastic form for the Blues in the Championship on loan.

Chong is back at United now to receive treatment and undergo rehab, but has headed down to Birmingham on a couple of occasions to meet up with his team-mates. Bowyer has repeatedly reiterated his hope that he’ll be able to have Chong back for selection again before the end of the season.

“All I can say is he is ahead of schedule. I don’t want to say days, weeks, months – whatever it is. All I know is he is ahead of schedule which is good,” Bowyer said this week.

“Obviously he is back at Man United getting treatment and they are looking after him, so we know he is getting very, very well looked after there – which is positive for us. It was good to hear that last week.

“Fingers crossed everything goes smoothly, he is still a long, long way away but fingers crossed we see him at some stage before the end of the season.”

Chong delighted Birmingham fans with his displays at the start of the season.

McKenna joins Ipswich

Formerly Under-18s manager at United, Kieran McKenna - who was most recently first-team coach under Ralf Rangnick, having served in the same role under Michael Carrick, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Jose Mourinho - has been named manager of League One side Ipswich Town. Good luck, Kieran!


Christmas break

There’ll be no Academy action this week as the fixtures pause for the Christmas break.