United Academy Weekly: 6-11 September

Tuesday 12 September 2023 11:00

This week: current Manchester United Academy players and graduates alike have been starring on the international stage, parents were at Old Trafford for an enlightening annual workshop, preparations continued for the UEFA Youth League - and more. Read on for details.


Old Trafford was the venue for an inspirational day on Saturday, the annual Academy Parents Conference. This is the third time we've hosted this unique event which helps and educates parents in how best to support their children through the Academy journey.

Parents undertook workshops led by Academy staff, which focused on food and sports psychology, and enjoyed hearing the words of guest speaker Katie Warriner, a leading performance psychologist.

Warriner then joined Nick Cox (Director of Academy) and Dave Rainford (former footballer, now the Premier League’s Head of Education & Academy Player Care) for a enlightening Q&A hosted by MUTV presenter Helen Evans.

Helen Evans leads a Q&A at our unique Academy Parents Conference with Nick Cox, Katie Warriner and Dave Rainford.


After triumphing over Stockport County on penalties in the first EFL Trophy group-stage match of this season, our Under-21s will next face Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday 26 September. Unfortunately, this presents a clash for United fans with the club’s Carabao Cup third-round fixture against Crystal Palace being played on the same evening at Old Trafford.

The Academy greatly appreciates the support shown by nearly 1,500 travelling Reds at Edgeley Park in late August and would have loved to seen a similar turnout at Bolton, as we experienced last year in the knockout stages. However, the club was unable to reach an agreement with our opponents and the EFL on an alternative date.

Just how much that travelling support is valued was clear when we spoke to Travis Binnion this week.

“You saw the players' reaction at the end!” he said.

“We’d rather have had three points but the experience of the penalty shoot-out and winning it in front of our fans… it was fantastic.

“We talked about the crowd pre-match because we wanted the players to make the most of it. If 1,500 fans are going to come and watch you, you need to know what they want to see.

“Playing at Carrington versus playing in front of 5,000 at Stockport, it’s different. 80 percent of the game is the same but there's 20 percent that definitely isn't. It would be remiss of us not to address that 20 per cent and prepare the players for it. So we make them value it and get them excited about it because that's what we want.”


Manchester United was deeply saddened last week to learn of the passing of Mark Pearson, a formidable attacker who rose through the club’s youth ranks to become an important part of our rebuild in the wake of the Munich Air Disaster.

The Derbyshire-born forward saw his career hastened by the horrors of Munich. He made his senior bow on probably the most surreal, emotional occasion in the club’s history: Sheffield Wednesday’s FA Cup visit to Old Trafford on 19 February 1958.

As one of four debutants, the 18-year-old turned in a staggering display which prompted The Times’ match report to heap praise on the teenager: “It was the performance of two young men, Cope at centre-half and Pearson at inside-left, that left us rubbing our eyes in astonishment. Their maturity, polish, and skill left one wondering what other magic is hidden away in Old Trafford.”

Mark passed away on Saturday 2 September, aged 83, and leaves behind his widow, Susan, and two daughters, Jackie and Sarah. His part in a unique chapter in United’s history is indelible, and everyone at the Academy would like to pass on sincere condolences to Mark’s family at this sad time.


After leaving United at the end of his contract this summer, Axel Tuanzebe has signed for Ipswich Town on a one-year deal, with the option of a further year.

In doing so, he joins up with former Academy coach Kieran McKenna, now manager of the Tractor Boys, and fellow graduate Brandon Williams, currently on loan at Portman Road.

Axel was a popular member of the squad at United and made 37 senior appearances for the club, memorably captaining the Reds against his hometown club Rochdale back in September 2019.

After loan spells with Aston Villa, Napoli and Stoke City, Tuanzebe joins an ambitious Ipswich side pushing to challenge for a second consecutive promotion. Town's next match is away to Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday 16 September, after the international break.

Axel captained United against his hometown club Rochdale in 2019.

Meanwhile, another Academy product released in the summer, Charlie Wellens, has signed a deal with Reading in League One. The 20-year-old has therefore been reunited with a former team-mate in Charlie Savage.

Everybody at United would like to wish Axel and Charlie the very best of luck for the rest of this season and beyond, and thank them for all their efforts at the club.


Scott McTominay continued his prolific form for Scotland, providing a goal and an assist on Friday evening. No player has scored more goals in European qualifying this season, McTominay having hit six in five games from midfield.

Several other Academy graduates have been in senior international action, including Marcus Rashford for England and Jonny Evans for Northern Ireland. Evans scored for his nation in their 4-2 defeat to Slovenia. Meanwhile, Hannibal played for Tunisia and Alejandro Garnacho was an unused substitute for Argentina.

At youth level, Isak Hansen-Aaroen was captain on his goalscoring debut for Norway Under-21s and Alvaro Fernandez contributed an assist for Spain’s team in the same age group.

Reds have been in action at several levels of the England set-up, with Omari Forson and Dan Gore in the Under-20s, Elyh Harrison and Finley McAllister in the Under-18s and Shea Lacey and Jayce Fitzgerald lining up together for the Under-17s.

McTominay's success on the international stage continues.


The Academy will welcome players back from international duty and the Under-18s will host Nottingham Forest at Carrington on Saturday (12:30 BST). In the meantime, preparations for our first UEFA Youth League fixture, away to Bayern Munich on Tuesday 20 September, will continue.


“It's obviously a huge club, Bayern, and we've got quite a good relationship with them,” explained Travis Binnion.

“We played them last pre-season over here, but we also went over to Germany with the Under-19s. We played at their training ground, we trained at their venue, and they came here as an Under-17s side for our own pre-season tournament. Our Under-15s also went there recently and I know there's been a relationship in terms of our psychology programme with both Bayern and Benfica, so there's been a little threeway thing there.

“So we have a good relationship with Bayern and obviously, we know that they're a fantastic club with rich history themselves.”

Read more of Binnion's thoughts on our Youth League group, which also includes FC Copenhagen and Galatasaray, in the next edition of Academy Weekly.

Supporters can also read an in-depth chat with Travis in United Review, the official match programme, for the Premier League game against Crystal Palace on 30 September.