Academy Weekly: Europe, charity and WW1 education

Monday 09 October 2023 15:23

In a week for Manchester United defined by the extraordinary substitute impact of graduate Scott McTominay, the tireless work behind the scenes at the Academy continued with a European fixture, an award nomination, Under-18s victory, an admirable charity challenge and educational plans for Remembrance Sunday.

In free time away from their Academy roles, 15 staff members this month are participating in Prostate United, an annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer UK now in its sixth edition.

Prostate United began as a daily 10km running challenge across October at the initiative of two Rotherham United employees. Staff at Manchester United joined the cause four years ago, with several additional challenges now available including different daily distances and cycling. For the first time this year, fans have also been encouraged to take part, the result being 729 total participants.

Prostate cancer kills one man every 45 minutes. The money raised through Prostate United will help fund lifesaving research into better tests and treatments that could save men’s lives.

In total, nearly £500,000 has been raised over the last six years and United’s staff this month have already raised a fantastic £1,600 and you can donate here.


An exciting and well-rounded second-half performance from United’s Under-19s secured our first points in this season’s UEFA Youth League, Europe’s premier junior club competition.

United were beaten 2-0 by Bayern Munich in Bavaria on Matchday 1, succumbing to a couple of moments of quality from the hosts and failing to convert our own chances. This was more clinical, United taking the game away from Galatasaray in a dominant display after a tight first half. The Turkish visitors were limited to just one attempt. You can watch highlights below.

Youth League highlights: United U19s v Galatasaray Video

Youth League highlights: United U19s v Galatasaray

Watch the key moments from the young Reds' second outing in this season's UEFA Youth League...

Omari Forson put the young Reds ahead, calmly dispatching a penalty earned from a typically confident James Nolan run forward from right-back.

Recently nominated for PL2 Player of the Month (see more below), Forson exuded confidence when joined in attack by substitute Shea Lacey, the two combining for another pair of goals. Lacey first set Forson up for a clever backheel to find Ethan Williams, who finished clinically into the bottom left corner.

Lacey then provided a well-weighted through ball, onto which Forson ran onto to add a third and cap off United’s victory with another excellent goal.

United are next in European action when hosting FC Copenhagen at Leigh Sports Village on 24 October. Fans are encouraged to attend the 14:00 BST kick-off with free entry for all.


As aforementioned, 19-year-old creative midfielder Forson has been shortlisted for PL2 Player of the Month after netting in each of our three September league fixtures. The London-born youngster also scored in our EFL Trophy game at Bolton Wanderers, having been involved with Erik ten Hag’s first team on Tour 2023 and regularly participating in senior training.

Forson is one of 32 players from the Professional Development Phase (U17-U21) to train with Ten Hag’s first team already this season.

Although not necessarily a marker of development - the reasons for an Academy player joining first-team training are varied - these sessions are always a fantastic experience for those involved and players take valuable lessons back into their own age groups.

The other nominees for the September award are Luca Barrington, Mark O'Mahony (both Brighton & Hove Albion), Alfie Dorrington (Tottenham), Harry Gardiner (Sunderland), Callum Kavanagh (Middlesbrough), Callum Marshall (West Ham United) and Tommi O'Reilly (Aston Villa).

Forson was involved in Tour 2023 and is now benefiting from a wonderful variety of opportunities.
Nominees were selected by the Premier League Football Development Panel after PL2 club coaches nominated the best performance by an opponent in each of their divisional matches in the month.

The panel will decide the winner, who is due to be announced at 10:00 BST on Friday 13 October.


Our U18s continued their 100 per cent start to the season with a seventh win from seven, coming from a goal behind with three goals after the 70-minute mark, the scorers Ethan Wheatley, captain Finley McAllister and Malachi Sharpe.

United weren’t up to the standards we’ve set so far this season in the first half but changes on the hour-mark - with Sharpe, Wheatley, Habeeb Ogunneye and Jack Fletcher, making his United debut, coming on - made the desired impact.

Wheatley’s equalising goal was a penalty before McAllister’s a well-guided low curler into the bottom-right corner. Sharpe’s effort, meanwhile, was a wonderful team move, initiated after a fine, match-winning Tom Myles save, continued by Lacey’s excellent through ball and ending with Sharpe’s expert one-on-one finish.

U18s highlights: United v Derby Video

U18s highlights: United v Derby

See how our Under-18s fared on Saturday, as they sought to maintain a 100 per cent start to the domestic season...

It’s been an enjoyable start to the season for Adam Lawrence’s side, with six league victories and one in the U18 Premier League Cup (4-1, vs Reading). Particularly pleasing has been the side’s ability to cope with varying challenges in these games, with some comprehensive victories mixed with hard-fought comeback wins over Derby County (3-1, 7 October), Sunderland (3-2, 23 September) and Nottingham Forest (2-1, 16 September).


Alvaro Fernandez’s first start for loan club Granada came against the challenging opposition of La Liga champions Barcelona. The young Spanish defender distinguished himself in a fine left-wing-back display, leaving the pitch on 58 minutes with his side leading 2-1. The final score was 2-2, as it was at Tynecastle, where Will Fish played the full match for Hibernian in the Edinburgh derby against Hearts. Charlie McNeill was an unused substitute for Stevenage in a 1-0 victory over Wigan Athletic in League One.


Scott McTominay scored twice, but you knew that already!

“It’s Fergie time,” captain Bruno Fernandes told MUTV after the match. “At United, it’s normal to score at this time of the game and part of Fergie time [means] it has to be an Academy graduate scoring too.”

Scott wasn’t the only midfield graduate making an impact on the Premier League. James Garner, now at Everton, scored his first Premier League goal, helping the Toffees to an important win against Bournemouth. Congratulations, James!

Also in action in England’s top flight over the weekend were Teden Mengi, Tahith Chong (both Luton Town), Josh Brownhill (Burnley), Jack Harrison, Dwight McNeill (both Everton), Joe Rothwell (Bournemouth), Andreas (Fulham), Sam Johnstone (Crystal Palace), Anthony Elanga (Nottingham Forest) and Danny Welbeck (Brighton & Hove Albion). All six Saturday games involved United Academy graduates, a source of pride for all those who helped these players achieve successful careers in the game.

United always join together with Manchester City around Remembrance Sunday, and this year is no different.


As part of the Academy’s extensive education programme, certain age groups this week began their focus on the Christmas Truce and World War One ahead of Remembrance Sunday, benefiting from the ‘igloo’ 360-degree classroom at UA92. The young players will continue to learn about WW1, visiting an example trench, linking up with other clubs and researching the stories of United players who served.

With this age group also studying Windrush, the boys will be encouraged to research soldiers of BAME heritage. This is all in preparation for Remembrance Sunday, around which, the players will present their work and United will join together with Manchester City to pay just tribute to the service and sacrifice of servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts.


Players from across the Academy will be gaining fantastic experience on international duty this week.

In the England set-up, Harry Amass, Lacey and Jayce Fitzgerald will represent the Under-17s, Elyh Harrison and McAllister the Under-18s and Dan Gore and Forson the Under-20s. With others in action across the world, we’ll keep you updated in next week’s edition of Academy Weekly.