Teden Mengi in action on his Manchester United debut.

Solskjaer equals Sir Matt's youth players record

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has given eight Academy players their first-team debuts for Manchester United during the 2019/20 campaign, equalling a 67-year-old mark set by Sir Matt Busby.

Defender Teden Mengi was introduced for the final 10 minutes of the Reds’ 2-1 Europa League victory over LASK for his United bow, after a promising season at youth level, which included captaining the Under-18s to the FA Youth Cup semi-finals.

After the match, Mengi said he wanted to follow the example of Brandon Williams, who was the first youth prospect to be introduced for a debut by Solskjaer this season, during September’s Carabao Cup match against Rochdale.

Williams has gone on to make 34 appearances for the Reds and, with Luke Shaw out injured, could be our first-choice left-back heading into the ‘final-eight’ Europa League tournament, to be held in Germany.

The competition has proved fruitful for bedding in youngsters, with our other six Academy debutants called into action when we faced Astana in Kazakhstan in November.

Mengi was an unused substitute on that occasion, alongside three other homegrown products, but Di'Shon Bernard, Ethan Laird and Dylan Levitt all started, while Ethan Galbraith, Largie Ramazani and D’Mani Mellor were called upon from the bench in the second half.

Our group-stage trip was, by our reckoning, the match in which we’ve fielded most debutants since World War I – and Mengi’s Old Trafford cameo ensures the Reds have carved out another piece of club history.

As United youth expert Tony Park says, the last manager to give as many young, homegrown players (classified as those who have played for the club's Under-18s or youth-team equivalent) a run-out in the first-team was Busby himself, with John Doherty, Duncan Edwards, Bill Foulkes, Eddie Lewis, Les Olive, David Pegg, Jackie Scott and Dennis Viollet all blooded in 1952/53.

While Doherty, Lewis, Olive and Scott only made a handful of United appearances, the other quartet formed an integral part of Busby’s back-to-back First Division title winning sides, in 1956 and 1957.

Sir Alex Ferguson promoted six youth players to the first team over the course of a season on four separate occasions (1994/95, 1997/98, 1999/00 and 2011/12), while Louis van Gaal gave the following sextet debuts during his first campaign in charge: Andreas Pereira, Tyler Blackett, Reece James, Jesse Lingard, Paddy McNair and Tom Thorpe.

Solskjaer’s predecessor Jose Mourinho selected half a dozen Reds from the Academy ranks during 2016/17, including current first-teamers Scott McTominay and Axel Tuanzebe.

Get behind the team as the Reds go marching on! Our new adidas home kit for 2020/21 is on sale now.

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