Academy Weekly: Binnion previews semi-final

Tuesday 08 March 2022 09:30

Travis Binnion says previous FA Youth Cup wins at Old Trafford will give Manchester United Under-18s confidence heading into Wednesday night's semi-final against Wolves.

“When you’ve had the success we’ve had there in three games, that unknown is not there,” the Under-18s' lead coach said.

“The unknown will be there for Wolves and the message for us will be consistent, in line with every game.

“They know themselves, they’re intelligent footballers and they know there’ll be key moments in the game that they’ve got to get the most out of.

“We have to be organised and work hard, but we have to be exciting, back ourselves and play with an air of freedom while being organised.”

FA Youth Cup semi-final preview


How to watch our Old Trafford date with Wolves, details of our journey so far and more...

The 19:00 GMT kick-off, which will be shown live on MUTV, will be this side’s fourth game at Old Trafford this season. The young Reds have already knocked out Scunthorpe United, Everton, and Leicester City at home, and defeated Reading away in Berkshire in the fourth round.

“I think the Everton game was probably the most pleasing in terms of how we really took hold of that game,” Binnion reflected.

“We went behind in it, responded quite quickly and just really took control of the game. We played some fantastic football, defended well, and came out as a really clear winners.

“I think the Leicester game was a more difficult one, but the way we wrestled that in the second half was pleasing, but I didn’t think we had the same control in that game as we had in the Everton game.

“The growth of the boys throughout the competition and throughout the season has probably been the most pleasing thing. We obviously know they’re talented players capable of producing good performances, but their development and their focus towards their development on an individual level and their growth as a team has been the most pleasing thing for us as a staff.”


Garnacho receives Argentina call-up

Young forward Alejandro Garnacho has been named in Argentina's preliminary squad for La Albiceleste's upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

The 17-year-old winger was born in Madrid to a Spanish father and Argentinian mother. He is one of 44 players provisionally called up by Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni.

Scaloni's team have already secured their spot at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, to be held in Qatar, and so may be using this final pair of qualifiers as an opportunity to give younger talents a taste of senior international football. 

Several other Academy players could also be called up for senior international appearances this month. Hannibal has regularly been involved for Tunisia - first at the FIFA Arab Cup and then the Africa Cup of Nations - while Zidane Iqbal has played twice for Iraq in 2022. Ethan Galbraith (Northern Ireland), Dylan Levitt (Wales), and Matej Kovar (Czech Republic) have all, in the past, been a part of their country's senior set-ups as well.

Loan watch

Tahith Chong made his mark by scoring just two minutes into his first senior start since October, after the Curacao-born winger was forced to undergo surgery on a ruptured thigh tendon that he suffered in training. Chong returned to Carrington to undergo rehab and before heading back to Birmingham a few weeks ago, making a substitute appearance and playing twice for the Under-23s. Manager Lee Bowyer brought him back into the side against Bristol City at the weekend and it was the dream comeback.

Find out more about Chong’s return and details on all our other loanees in our extensive loan watch round-up, below.

Loan Watch: Chong shines on injury return


Six United loanees featured over the weekend across the four top divisions of English football.

Under-18s beaten in mini-derby

Joe Hugill, Willy Kambwala, and Ethan Ennis all made returns from injury in a much-changed Under-18s line-up. With the FA Youth Cup semi-final on the horizon, several players were rested at the weekend. Manni Norkett gave United an early lead but Manchester City equalised almost immediately through Nico O’Reilly. A Carlos Borges hat-trick, and another from Kian Breckin, led to a 5-1 win for City. United’s Sonny Aljofree received a red card late on.

Under-19s knocked out of UEFA Youth League

United suffered a 3-1 penalty shoot-out defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Youth League last 16. The visitors' Jamie Bynoe-Gitten converted the winning spot kick after scoring twice in normal time - first, early on to put Dortmund ahead and then to restore their advantage after Charlie McNeill's excellent first-half response. Rhys Bennett equalised for United with a thumping drive in the 85th-minute to send the game to penalties.

Neil Wood's team played well and were the better side after Dortmund's opening goal, but were denied by the impressive goalkeeper Silas Ostrinzinski on several occasions. The German side will now play Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals.

Shola nominated for award

Shola Shoretire has been nominated for Premier League 2’s February Player of the Month award. The shortlist is chosen by the Premier League’s Football Development Panel after PL2 club coaches nominate the best performance by an opposing player in each of their league matches during the month.

The attacking midielder scored in our last game of February, a 5-2 win against Derby County, and contributed a couple of sublime assists earlier in the month, in a 3-1 win against West Ham.

The other nominees are: Luke Harris (Fulham), Sonny Hilton (Fulham), Juan Larios (Man City), James McAtee (Man City), Luke Pearce (Southampton), Jesurun Rak-Sakyi (Crystal Palace).

Our interim manager has shown his support for Academy Mental Health Awareness Month.

Rangnick supporters Academy Mental Health Awareness Month

First-team interim manager Ralf Rangnick wore a badge in last Friday's press conference in support of our Academy Mental Health Awareness Month, which aims to raise awareness and encourage conversation around mental health amongst players and staff.

The Academy has worked closely with charities and organisations including Mind UK to devise a bespoke programme. A range of activities will take place during March including sports psychology workshops, practical training sessions, roundtable discussions and branding at matches. The club will also share resources with Bayern Munich and SL Benfica during the month. Harry Maguire is the ambassador for the month, and will be one of several first-team players to address various age groups on it. You can find out more information here.

Academy-graduate achievements

Several graduates found the headlines with goals this weekend, as Paddy McNair, Will Keane, and Ravel Morrison all scored in a five-minute spell on Saturday afternoon.

McNair dispatched a penalty for Middlesbrough to help the promotion-chasing side to a 2-1 home win over Luton Town. Keane hit his 17th goal of the season in a 1-0 home win over AFC Wimbledon for League One Wigan Atheltic.

Morrison, meanwhile, scored twice for Derby County in their 2-0 win against Barnsley. The Rams, managed by Wayne Rooney, are now 22nd in the Championship and still need something special to stay up as a result of a 21-point deduction.

Ravel Morrison celebrates scoring Derby County's opener this weekend. The English midfielder won the 2011 FA Youth Cup while at the Academy.


FA Youth Cup semi-final

United's Under-18s host Wolves at Old Trafford on Wednesday night at 19:00 GMT. The match will be shown live on MUTV, where coverage will begin 30 minutes before kick-off.

"Wolves are obviously a historical, traditional club," lead coach Travis Binnion said.

"They’ve always produced players. It’s a good area for producing players. This team specifically I think is in line with Wolves Academy sides of the past, they’ve got some really good players, they work hard and they've very athletic and organised.

"So the game’s going to be a tough game, there’s no two ways about it, but you don’t expect anything else in a semi-final and they’ll be coming to us knowing they’ve got their work cut out.

"Getting through to any final is nice, and that’s why you’re in a competition like this, but we really can’t look past Wednesday night. Ultimately the boys will look back very fondly of these successes and going on into a final if we progress, and whatever the final holds, but these are building blocks in the lads’ careers and ultimately as a staff we look back on kids having prolonged careers and being the best version of themselves. So that’s what we will reflect on."

Other fixtures

The Under-18s will return to league action on Saturday morning as they take on Liverpool away from home. The Under-23s have no match this week.

Fixture announcements

The Under-18s' home match against Blackburn Rovers, originally scheduled for Tuesday 8 March, will now be played on Tuesday 26 April (19:00 GMT) at Altrincham's J. Davidson Stadium.

The Under-23s' away match at Leeds United, originally scheduled for Monday 14 March, has now been moved to the Tuesday (15 March) and will be played at Elland Road with a 19:00 GMT kick-off.


  • U18s highlights: United v Man City Video

    U18s highlights: United v Man City

    Watch the key moments from Saturday's derby match at Carrington...

  • U19s highlights: United v Dortmund Video

    U19s highlights: United v Dortmund

    United's Under-19s took on Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Youth League last-16. Here's how it played out...