Academy Weekly: Big stadium experience
Manchester United's Under-23s enjoyed the experience of playing at two Premier League grounds last week, in front of 9,000 and 3,000-strong crowds.
It’s an exciting fortnight approaching for several players, with Alejandro Garnacho earning his first call-up to the Argentina side, Zidane Iqbal and Hannibal joining up with Iraq and Tunisia once again, and Dylan Levitt, currently on loan at Dundee United, set to play with Wales. At youth level, seven young Reds will represent England, while others will turn out for the Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Norway, Scotland, and Spain.
There were three fixtures for our Under-23s and Under-18s this week, and you can watch highlights below.
Academy Mental Health Awareness Month has continued over the last week, with a focus on the importance of being active.
Workshops and experiences have been delivered to all age groups from Under-11s to Under-23s, with players sharing ideas of things they enjoy doing to relax. Suggestions included going for a walk, alone or with the dog, spending time with friends, breathing exercises, and even going fishing. The Under-16s to Under-23s group attended a mini-exhibition at the Jimmy Murphy Centre at Carrington, discussing key messages, lessons learned and reviewing practical advice relating to looking after wellbeing.
The next week focuses on staff development, with training delivered on adolescent mental health by the charity Changing Minds UK. Club legend Andy Cole will also join discussions with staff on how they can create more mentally healthy environments.
For everything you need to know from the last seven days at the United Academy, read below...
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Under-23s get big stadium experience
Neil Wood’s side twice played at Premier League grounds this week, managing a convincing victory over Everton at Old Trafford on Friday after tasting defeat away at Elland Road.
Leeds United were the better side in Yorkshire as Stuart McKinstry opened the scoring early on before further strikes from Max Dean and Archie Gray in the second half. United did threaten throughout, with D’Mani Mellor watching Kristoffer Klaesson come up with a big save to deny him.
United reversed that scoreline when Everton came to Manchester on Friday evening. On that occasion, an excellent second-half performance saw the Reds break the Toffees down on several occasions to complete a comfortable victory.
Our youngsters took the lead on the hour mark as Charlie Savage received Noam Emeran’s pass and struck a powerful inside-of-the-left-boot shot into the bottom left corner.
Mellor then twice finished off brilliantly-worked team moves to extend the advantage and grab himself a well-deserved brace at Old Trafford, where a crowd of 3,121 watched on.
Under-18s beat Leeds
Although Leeds found an early lead in Carrington’s Saturday morning fixture, United managed a comfortable victory.
Luca Thomas’s smart turn and volley put the visitors ahead but Joe Hugill soon levelled for United after Sam Mather won the ball back high up the pitch. Ethan Ennis continued good scoring form as he put United ahead, finishing off a patient move from the Reds, and substitute Omari Forson extended the lead a few minutes later, tapping home after Mather’s shot had been saved. Leeds struck the post before half-time, but the game was wrapped up by another from Ennis just minutes into the second half.
Academy graduate achievements
Anthony Elanga’s stellar first-team form at Manchester United has earned him a call-up to Sweden’s senior national team. He could make his debut as the Scandinavian side, captained by Victor Lindelof, take on the Czech Republic in a World Cup play-off.
Several young Academy players or graduates have earned senior international call-ups, and many more will play at youth level across the next fortnight. Nick Cox, Head of Academy, explains here the benefits of the international football scene on our young players' development.
Goalkeeper Dermot Mee has joined Witton Albion on a work experience loan, making his debut on Saturday. He will play games with them and continue to train with United's first-team.
James Garner’s exciting FA Cup run with Nottingham Forest came to an end at the weekend as the Championship side suffered late defeat to Liverpool in the quarter-final. It has nevertheless been a wonderful experience for Garner and one he’ll no doubt take many lessons from.
Dylan Levitt scored for Dundee United as he helped the Scottish Premiership club to a 2-1 victory over St. Mirren. Head here for a detailed round-up of all our loanees, and you can read more about the thinking behind the Academy’s loan strategy here in our interview with Nick Cox.
COMING UP THIS WEEK
The Under-18s will take on Sunderland on Thursday, 24 March in a 13:00 GMT kick-off at the Academy of Light. The match can be watched live on MUTV, with coverage starting 15 minutes before kick-off.