Garner's FA Cup run showcases loans success

Saturday 19 March 2022 16:30

As midfielder James Garner prepares to take on Liverpool in the FA Cup quarter-final with loan club Nottingham Forest, the behind-the-scenes work done to ensure successful loan moves at Manchester United is highlighted.

Garner is one of several United loanees excelling away from the club, playing a crucial role in Forest’s exciting cup run. The Reds knocked out record-winners Arsenal in the third round, holders Leicester City in the fourth round and defeated Huddersfield Town in the fifth round. You watch Garner's assist in the latter game below. Forest now host Liverpool at the City Ground.

21-year-old Garner should be involved in Sunday evening’s match - an 18:00 GMT kick-off which UK-based supporters can watch live on ITV - and will then join up with England’s Under-21s squad during the international break.

Nick Cox, Head of Academy, recently explained to us how Garner’s loan move will help his development and how United help our young players out on loan.

“I look at James Garner playing at Forest, with a couple of big cup upsets in recent weeks, and he’s become a bit of a household name,” Cox said.

Garner has assisted four times from corner deliveries this season, as well as popping up with a few goals himself.

“That’s wonderful for him. I don’t want to miss anyone out or single anyone out, but I also look at Dylan Levitt who has scored a couple of wonderful goals and I look at Ethan Galbraith slowly racking up senior appearances.

“Ultimately what this is about is accumulating appearances. If you can get to 50 appearances you can maybe consider that this is going to be your job, if you can get to 100, you might think it’s your career, if you get to 150, this might now be a top-level career.

“We’re always trying to help the boys not just get to a debut but slowly build up experiences in games, first and foremost to prepare yourself for our first team, but if it’s not to be with our first team, to make sure you’ve got solid experience in the bank to make sure that you have a career that goes on for many years.”

As well as the midfield trio of Garner, Levitt and Galbraith, full-back Brandon Williams is a first-choice starter for Norwich City in the Premier League, Tahith Chong and Teden Mengi have enjoyed great experiences at Birmingham City in the Championship, where defender Di’Shon Bernard has impressed for Hull City and Ethan Laird for Swansea City and now AFC Bournemouth.

It should be noted that the success of a loan move is not solely down to FA Cup victories, becoming a household name or even getting regular game time. Every player has different development needs, Cox explains, and that means the measure of success is not consistent.

“Going out on loan is a life experience as much as a football experience,” he said.

Di'Shon has made 25 appearances in the Championship this season.

“Some boys join Academies at the age of nine, so they might not have played grassroots football and they might be in the programme for 10 or 12 years. So to leave Carrington, to maybe have to work out your own transport to a different training ground, to go and meet new people, to walk into a dressing room for the first time - it’s quite a nerve-wracking thing to do and it’s something that you have to practice - all those things that come with a loan are really, really important.

“Yes, getting minutes on the pitch is quite important, but it’s not the only measure of success of a loan period. An opportunity for young boys to go and experience senior football and to train every day with senior players is important, but the skill is to make sure we pick a loan experience to go and get the right returns.

"So we may put a boy out on loan just for the experience or the life skills, but at some point, we’ve got to put them out for a football development reason as well and make sure we get the right type of games or the right type of development whilst they’re not with us. We are constantly trying to assess all of the returns that we get in terms of a loan spell.

England call-ups for seven youngsters


James Garner is in the Under-21s and his United colleagues are in other age groups.

“We’ve got great support for boys who aren’t at the club, through the coaching staff who are at the club, through some connection with the first team, through Darren Fletcher, through Les Parry, who co-ordinates the loans experiences and through regular discussions with the players.

"We are constantly trying to make that experience as positive and as manageable as possible, but actually ultimately what we’re trying to do is help the boys cope with the adversity that naturally comes with playing senior football, playing professional, so I quite embrace the fact that they have to deal with them not being in the team or getting knocked out of the cup or going on a cup run or there’s a change in manager, that’s all preparation for a long career in the game.”