Robson's message to Garner
Manchester United legend Bryan Robson is urging James Garner and the other youngsters to show their true colours during the pre-season friendlies.
Garner enjoyed a successful second half of last season on loan at Nottingham Forest and returns with more experience as he hopes to get a chance to shine in the upcoming warm-up games, starting with the clash at Derby County on Sunday, live on MUTV.
The 20-year-old scored his first senior goal against the Rams in the February, in the East Midlands derby, and the boy from Birkenhead will be striving for another run-out this weekend as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is expected to rely on a lot of his younger players for the first part of pre-season.
"It's always good to see the lads who have been out on loan," Robson told us. "Then the younger players coming through get that opportunity. It's good to see how well they can do against the opposition we've selected for the pre-season games.
“We've got a couple of Championship teams and Brentford have just been promoted so it's always interesting to see how the young boys cope with getting in the first team and playing 90 minutes, sometimes playing with the better players.
“For James, this is it. He has had his education now and is at that age where he can really prove himself this season, whether he's going to be at Manchester United or go out on loan again.
“He's a very intelligent footballer and works very hard at his game. Now it is up to James to step up and prove to Ole he is worthy of a place in the squad."
As United aim to get the balance right in midfield, some older fans speak about the lack of genuine box-to-box performers, in general, due to the way the game has changed tactically over the years.
Robson was certainly a master of this art but accepts even his role changed under Sir Alex Ferguson, when he adopted a more cautious approach.
"As a player, you've got to work at being able to adapt to what the coach is asking for," he explained. "With Ron Atkinson, I was, more or less, box to box all the time. Bobby Robson wanted me like that with England as well but, when Sir Alex came in, he wanted me to not get forward as much. You always try to mix your game up and get forward now and again but to sit in to try to protect Pally [Gary Pallister] and Brucey [Steve Bruce] too.
“He tried to get me playing that role, which wasn't a problem for me. When I was in the youth-team at West Brom, I used to play centre-half anyway. I'm sure Ole is looking to get the right mix in the midfield area now whether it's players who can pass well and defend well.”
The pre-season schedule is something of a throwback to when Robson was marauding around the midfield in his early days as a Red.
"They're all good matches," he added. "Sometimes all that travelling in the pre-season, then playing against the best teams in Europe, can be a hard start to pre-season. This one looks as if it's going to be a more gentle approach. Saying that, we still have to fire on all cylinders when we go into the first game of the season.
“But, because of all the problems, it looks quite a good pre-season without being too strenuous for all the lads. It's looking pretty good with not too much travelling."