Nick Cox: Academy staff proud of Kobbie's rise

Friday 29 March 2024 17:30

What an eventful 10 days for some of our Academy graduates!

The club's sensational victory over Liverpool in the FA Cup featured seven graduates in the matchday squad, with goals from Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay, and assists from Alejandro Garnacho and McTominay again.
The international break has also been a successful one for our young players, most notably Kobbie Mainoo. In the last week, Kobbie has reached some key landmarks in his career with England - his first senior call-up, debut as a substitute and maiden appearance in the starting XI. His performance on Tuesday night was also recognised with the official ‘Player of the Match’ award.  To round it all off, he came across brilliantly in his media interviews, showing his authentic personality. 
Well done to Kobbie. But also well done to everyone that has supported him on his journey so far.
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Kobbie has benefited from all aspects of our Academy programme. Scouted at the age of six by Dermot Clarke, he was invited to the Moss Side Development Centre where he was coached by Dave Horrocks and Charlie Henry.  Kobbie quickly moved to the main Pre Academy Centre at The Cliff where he was looked after by Mike Glennie and Eddie Leach. He registered for the Academy programme at Under-9 and went on to benefit from our Foundation Phase, Youth Development Phase and Professional Development Phase development programmes.

Kobbie was enrolled as a student at Ashton-on-Mersey School as part of our MANUSS programme at the age of 11.  And of course, he played in and won the FA Youth Cup final at Old Trafford in front of 65,000 fans before going on to represent us in the EFL Trophy and the UEFA Youth League.
His achievements so far have required a lot of time, effort and care from a vast range of staff across all functions of the Academy, and I want to say well done and thank you to all of them. I’m looking forward to watching Kobbie continue the hard work in order to fulfil his potential.
Alejandro Garnacho and James Scanlon also made history during the international break. Like his fellow Youth Cup winner Kobbie, Alejandro started for his country for the very first time, as Argentina played Costa Rica in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, James's senior debut for Gibraltar made him the second youngest United player ever to make an international appearance, after Norman Whiteside with Northern Ireland, back in 1982. Well done, James!
This break also saw Marcus (England) and Scott (Scotland) play for their countries. Scott was recently named Player of the Year for his national team and was presented with his award by Darren Fletcher at Carrington.

Meanwhile, 16 of our younger players were called up to represent seven different nations in junior age groups ranging from Under-16 to Under-20.
It was also great to see some of our former Academy players on the international stage, such as Sam Johnstone in the England senior squad and Andreas Pereira who played against the Three Lions for Brazil. Matej Kovar made his senior debut for Czech Republic, Charlie Savage was part of the Wales senior squad, Zidane Iqbal scored his first international goal for Iraq and Teden Mengi was called up by England Under-21s.

How Garna was inspired by Erik's speech


It's nearly a year since Ten Hag's motivational talk to Alejandro, after the go-getting winger signed a new contract.

Looking ahead, we are entering the stage of the season where many of our groups will be heading abroad to participate in international tours and tournaments.This Easter period will see the Academy head to Spain, USA, Holland, Belgium, Poland, and the Czech Republic.

These trips will, primarily, provide opportunities for our players to develop their skills against high level opposition in a tournament environment. Of course, we know that these experiences are also a valuable part of a young person’s personal development. Just as importantly, our players and staff will create memories that last a lifetime as they engage in experiences that wouldn’t otherwise come their way were it not for their association with our club.  
I am aware that staffing of these trips requires time away from family, long working hours and increased responsibility. Thank you to everyone that has contributed to ensuring these trips take place successfully.
Who knows which trip might be nurturing the next Kobbie. It was only six years ago that he was in Boston where he travelled as an underage player and experienced the opportunity to be part of a tournament-winning team. Only two years ago, Kobbie was in Dallas for the Generation Adidas Cup, where he was an overage player and captain and experienced a narrow quarter-final defeat to River Plate.

Academy teams to gain overseas experience


United players aged between 17 and 21 will train and play at AS Monaco and OGC Nice this Easter weekend.

Finally, as this is my first update since February, I should mention some of the other events that have embodied our commitment to the Academy mission over recent weeks. It's impossible to mention them all!
Toby Collyer and Habeeb Ogunneye were selected for our senior matchday squad for the first time. Meanwhile, out on loan, Joe Hugill and Sam Mather scored their first senior goals, for Burton Albion and Rochdale respectively, and Reece Bennett made his senior debut with Stockport County.

Also on the pitch, our Under-18s beat Crystal Palace 5-0 to reach the final of the Premier League Cup. We now know this will be played on Tuesday 23 April at Leigh Sports Village, against Manchester City, and fans can book free tickets online via the LSV website.

Get your tickets for the U18 PL Cup final


Our Under-18s will play Manchester City in a tantalising cup final at Leigh Sports Village. You can attend for free.

Our scholars took part in media training workshops facilitated by our own media and communications team - it’s only 18 months ago that Kobbie was doing the same. Also, our Under-17s and Under-18s organised, coached and refereed a schools tournament at Carrington as they work towards their coaching qualifications.

Our newest members of staff underwent our Academy induction programme, facilitated by Tony Whelan incorporating visits to the Cliff, Old Trafford and Carrington. Academy goalkeepers from Under-9s to Under-16s were introduced to the skill of ‘journaling’ and spent time with Tom Heaton to hear how he benefits from the technique.

The new parents' lounge at Carrington has opened.  Known as ‘The Graduate Lounge’, it celebrates the 249 players to have graduated from our youth programme to the first team since 1931. Thanks to Andy Jordan for his tireless work to ensure successful completion of the project.

Our Under-13s represented the Academy at the Munich Memorial Service, where Joe Deighton read his poem to a crowd of around 1,000 people. The Pre Academy delivered a ‘Cultural Day’ encouraging children and families to celebrate the heritage of each member of the group and also visited Anthony Crolla’s boxing gym.

The Emerging Talent Programme saw two more players identified and signed by the Academy, and ‘A United Education’ programme focused on understanding more about Ramadan.

As you can see, it has been a busy time for everyone at the Academy and we can surely expect more of the same as we head into the final two months of the season. Thanks, as always, for all your support.