'Kobbie has always been a really cool customer'

Tuesday 27 February 2024 15:00

Director of Academy Nick Cox has provided a unique insight into Kobbie Mainoo’s rise and backed the Manchester United midfielder to take his game to another level.

Mainoo made his senior debut in 2022/23 and finished that season with three appearances, but his first-team breakthrough truly arrived in November of this campaign and he is now a firm fixture in Erik ten Hag’s plans. 

For his first big interview as a Red, Kobbie went back to his Academy roots by taking part in an Under-8s session at Carrington and hosting an educational Q&A with the young players. 

For Cox, it was a full-circle moment and he is filled with pride, along with the many youth-team coaches who have played a part in Mainoo’s journey so far. 

Club reporter Harry Robinson spoke to Nick for his take on another success story…

It's been a day with the Under-8s seeing first-team training, Kobbie coming along to train with them and hosting a Q&A. How important is a day like this and how significant will this be in these lads’ memories going forward?
“This typifies what we're all about, doesn't it? You've got the beginning and the end of the journey. You've got the little ones that are about to start, and you've got the latest Academy player that's just integrated themselves into the first-team squad. So for them to spend some time together, it’s amazing. But what was most important is it felt really authentic, didn't it? So it's just been kids with smiles on their faces, loving playing football, singing happy birthday to each other, doing what kids do during a half-term holiday. So it's been brilliant.”
Kobbie Mainoo | Playing With Freedom Video

Kobbie Mainoo | Playing With Freedom

PLAYING WITH FREEDOM | In Kobbie's first major interview, we take a trip down memory lane with a team of awestruck U8s…

You can tell it's authentic because Kobbie said it's like a really nice trip down memory lane…
“He wants to be here. He is who he is because he's obsessed by football and he's obsessed with the ball. So, you know, when he got on the pitch with the little kids, he was playing just like he was in this same room in this same indoor arena just a few years ago. So it was brilliant to see. And in terms of trips down memory lane, he and I were just looking through some pictures. So six years ago to the day we were in Boston, America, where he played in a little tournament. I'm flicking through the pictures and he's having snowball fights, and we were at the cinema and we've been to see the New England Patriots play. And so even considering what he's gone on to achieve, he's still looking back on that with fond memories. Him hanging out with his mates through football, doing some cool stuff and having an amazing time.”
What was he like during that process coming through? What was he like as an individual? We've seen he is level-headed and pretty mature for his age…
“All the way through the journey, he's been exactly as you've witnessed this morning. In love with the game, a really cool customer, grounded, respectful, focused and a delightful young man really. And I think that showed through in the way that he's interacted with the young players today. But that's been him all the way through. And I would suggest that is probably a big reason for the success he's having at the moment as well.”
Watch as Nick Cox provides as unique insight into Kobbie Mainoo's rise through the Academy.
That success makes everyone at the Academy proud. You can tell on the day after a game when you get that buzz. It's not just Kobbie involved. You've got Scott and Marcus and Jonny and everyone else. But these last few weeks and months must be huge for the Academy?
“Yeah a huge amount of pride because we're watching Kobbie do brilliantly. We've seen game-changing moments from Scott, we've seen moments from Alejandro Garnacho. We’ve seen Marcus playing well, so that kind of excites everybody. On a Monday morning at the Academy, people are arriving talking about what the boys have achieved at the weekend, not just the ones in our team, but we've seen boys up and down the leagues this weekend do wonderful stuff. And the staff that have worked with those players from as young as the boys we've seen from that age, you can only be excited and delighted by what young people are achieving.”
And in terms of next steps, the manager has spoken about Kobbie being very coachable and and amenable to what he needs to do to improve. Is that something the cultures here felt when he was progressing?
“Yeah, he's always been driven, always had a desire to want to be better, always made sure that he's taken every opportunity to learn. He's doing great things, but he will tell you as much as anybody that this is early days, and he knows that he's got more landmarks to tick off. Yes, he started a lot of games. He had a nice run in the team. He scored some goals, but he knows that he wants to be on the team sheet every week. And he knows in his mind all the things he wants to go and achieve. And that will take hard work, but he won't be afraid of that hard work.”

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