Academy Weekly: Mulvey's development pride
Victory for Manchester United’s Under-16s side in the Premier League Cup means three of the club’s youth teams have now secured their spots in finals already this season.
Travis Binnion’s Under-18s have twice been in action this week and discovered their FA Youth Cup final opponents on Monday night as Nottingham Forest and Chelsea faced off for a place in the Old Trafford fixture. The U16s will face Manchester City after beating Sunderland – the scorers being Ethan Wheatley and Ruben Curley, who have both made U18s debuts this season – while the U15s are in a final of their own, too.
As often made clear by Academy coaches, individual player development is always prioritised over short-term match results. However, this season's cup success across various age groups is both a happy byproduct of good development work, but also creates unique opportunities of playing under pressure with something at stake. These experiences, whether our teams win or not, are vital in getting young players ready for future challenges, whether in our first team or elsewhere.
Further information on the U18s’ trip to Middlesbrough, our U23s' visit to Leicester, how our loanees are faring and two more fixtures coming up this week follows, but first, we begin a series of staff interviews this week by talking to Eamon Mulvey, Head of Player Development and Coach (9-13).
Eamon has been at Manchester United since 2002 and has played a crucial role in the development of several first-team players. In 2020, he was one of 11 coaches to receive The Coaching Chain award, in recognition of his contribution to Marcus Rashford’s journey to success. Eamon is part of the Academy Management Team and the core coaching team and he oversees the development programme at 9-13 level.
“The main reason why I do the job is to see young people grow and develop into top people on and off the pitch. A nice feeling is to know that they know you were there for them if they needed you.”
Describe some of your day-to-day responsibilities at the Academy...
“I coach, mentor staff and players, and create bespoke pathways of development that provide support for smooth transitions between age groups. I’m here to promote and help create positive learning environments that are vibrant, that provide problem-solving and variety, and that are loads of fun with the key ingredients on and off the pitch to develop Manchester United people.
“I also think my responsibility is to provide guidance and promote the history, culture and spirit of Manchester United Football Club and its unique traditions of developing young people.”
What’s your most cherished memory in your time at Manchester United?
“Wow! Now that’s really difficult, there’s so many wonderful memories. I’ll brief a few. When I first came to the club as a part-time coach, it was so exciting for me. After about eight months, I went for an interview for the new full-time position as The Skills Development Coach. After the interview, Tony Whelan took me into the old players’ lounge at Carrington and said it's yours if you want it! The feeling was something I will never forget.
“Kenya 2004 was one of my first trips with the club and was not only an amazing experience, but it made me realise how big our club is globally and a humbling experience I will never forget. And then Moscow 2008... what a night!”
What’s one key lesson you think all young people should be taught?
“Don’t be an energy sapper. Enjoy life and don’t look at your glass half empty, look at it as half full. Do things the best you can and then help someone else with theirs.”
What kind of pride do you feel when you see players you helped thriving on loan and paying tribute to the work you put into their development?
“The main reason why I do the job is to see young people grow and develop into top people on and off the pitch. One minute, you’re on tour with them tying their boots, rubbing a bit of magic on their boots to score a goal or having ice cream with team-mates, then the next thing they're either banging goals in for the first team, developing on loan or in a career at another club or even another profession. A nice feeling is to know that they know you were there for them if they needed you.”
Below, you can watch Eamon and Marcus Rashford discuss the 24-year-old's journey through the Academy.
Marcus is a 'top human being'
Youth coach Eamon Mulvey recounts Rashford's story with a little help from the man himself...
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Under-18s play twice
A Tuesday afternoon game for United at Carrington against Sunderland saw Ethan Ennis continue good goalscoring form with a wonderful curled strike from the edge of the box after only three minutes.
United goalkeeper Eric Hanbury was challenged on several occasions before half-time, but it was Travis Binnion's side who should have scored again. Sam Mather played Ennis through with an excellent outside-of-the-boot pass, and the 17-year-old looked certain to score only for Sunderland goalkeeper Adam Richardson to charge out well and narrow the angle, forcing Ennis's shot wide.
Sunderland equalised soon after half-time, Tommy Watson finishing past Hanbury. United regained control in the final 20 minutes and Maxi Oyedele saw a shot tipped over, Sonny Aljofree's header came off the bench and substitute Kobbie Mainoo made two excellent runs but couldn't convert. Binnion said after:
“In the long term, we need to turn these performances and results into wins. We’re not being clinical enough in the box. We’re having to score really exceptional goals to score. I thought we started and finished the game really well. I didn’t like the 20 minutes either side of half-time. I thought we were poor and not at it and I told them that at half-time. They finished the game really strongly but just couldn’t get over the line."
UNITED: Hanbury; Jurado (c), Kambwala (Hugill 46), Aljofree, Pye; Oyedele, Gore; Forson, Mather (Fredricson 60), Ennis (Mainoo 60); Norkett.
Goals: Ethan Ennis 4 - Tommy Watson 50.
In the team's previous game, Joe Hugill scored United’s only goal of the game in a 1-1 draw away at Middlesbrough on Saturday lunchtime. The hosts had taken a 17th-minute lead against the run of play, counter-attacking fast and ending a sustained period of dominance from United in which Omari Forson had hit the bar and Rhys Bennett’s header had forced a good save.
Hugill’s equaliser came just six minutes later. The English striker offered a lovely flick of the ball with his back to goal. Ethan Ennis latched onto the end of it and toe-poked it across the face of goal where Hugill waited to bundle it home.
UNITED: Vitek; Jurado (Kambwala 72, Bennett, Fredricson, Murray; Mainoo, Gore; Forson, Hansen-Aaroean (Oyedele 46), Ennis (Mather 63); Hugill.
Goals: Ajay Matthews 17 - Joe Hugill 23.
U18s highlights: Middlesbrough 1 United 1
See how our young Reds got on in the north-east on Saturday lunchtime...
James Garner played 90 minutes in a 4-1 win for Nottingham Forest against Blackpool. Axel Tuanzebe and Di’Shon Bernard were unused substitutes for SC Napoli and Hull City respectively. Tahith Chong started for Birmingham City and played 56 minutes in a 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion. He was subbed off with an injury, one which hopefully will have a short recovery time.
Dylan Levitt helped Dundee United to a 1-1 draw with Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership, and Ethan Galbraith came off the bench for Doncaster Rovers in a 3-0 defeat away at Wycombe Wanderers.
Dermot Mee’s short loan spell at Witton Albion ended last week. Mee was standing in for Greg Hall whilst the club’s number one was suspended and did a fine job.
For more details on all of our loanees, head here.
Under-23s defeated at Leicester
A spirited second-half performance from Neil Wood’s side wasn't quite enough to restore parity away at Leicester. After goals from Lewis Brunt, Wanya Marcal-Madivadua and Sammy Braybroke in the first half, the task might have seemed an insurmountable one for United.
An early second-half goal was deserved reward as Charlie Wellens’ thunderous strike crashed off the post and rebounded off Brunt for an own goal. A second came after 70 minutes when Hannibal’s effort from inside the box was blocked. It fell nicely for Shola Shoretire who reacted quickly and turned it home. A Dan Gore effort later on crashed against the bar, but it ended in defeat for United despite a good showing after the break.
UNITED: Mastny; Wellens, Fish, Hardley, Fernandez; Savage, Shoretire; Emeran (Gore), Hannibal, Garnacho; Mellor (c).
Goals: Brunt OG 49, Shoretire 70 - Brunt (p) 17, Marcal-Madivadua 37, Braybrooke 39.
U23s highlights: Leicester 3 United 2
It was a five-goal thriller on Monday night. Watch how the action unfolded...
COMING UP THIS WEEK
Old Trafford opportunity
After Monday's night defeat at Leicester, Neil Wood's U23s are in action again on Friday, hosting Chelsea at Old Trafford. Supporters are welcomed to attend the 19:00 BST kick-off. It's the team's second game at the first-team stadium – the first being a 3-0 win over Everton in March, which you can watch the highlights of below.
Under-18s play twice
It's also a two-game week for the U18s. They follow Tuesday's match against Sunderland with a Saturday morning (11:00 BST) trip to Stoke City. That match cannot be shown live on MUTV as it clashes with the first team's match away at Everton, but coverage and highlights will be available on ManUtd.com and the United App.