Brandon Williams and Scott McTominay help to celebrate one of Marcus Rashford's goals against Chelsea

First-team youngsters impress Reds legend

Manchester United's head of first-team development Nicky Butt believes the homegrown youngsters being trusted with a place in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side are ready to take the next steps in their progress.

Solskjaer's line-up for the 3-1 success over Brighton & Hove Albion was the club's youngest in the Premier League since the final-day win over Crystal Palace in 2017.

Brandon Williams marked his full league debut with our Man-of-the-Match award and became the second player born since the year 2000 to represent the club, following Gomes's appearance in the aforementioned clash against the Eagles.

Nicky Butt
Nicky Butt was appointed United's head of first-team development in the summer.

Butt has been pleased with how the Academy products have been performing, in general, and will be expecting more improvement as the campaign wears on.

As well as Williams, Tahith Chong, James Garner, Mason Greenwood, Scott McTominay, Andreas Pereira and Axel Tuanzebe have all been handed opportunities by Solskjaer this term.

“I’ve been impressed,” Butt told United Review, the official matchday programme. “We’ve had so many going in and doing well in different parts. Scott has now become established, even though he’s still a very young player. He’s doing really well. Axel has come in and done really well when he’s had his chances. Andreas is playing consistently and there’s still more to come from him.

“You’ve got Angel, Chongy, Mason Greenwood – the lads who are dipping their toes in. Mason’s got a goal or two, so it has been a good time for the lads going in.”

When asked about the next steps the players need to take, Butt was more specific in his analysis.

“There are certain levels,” he replied. “Scott’s now trying to develop his game into the player he was in the younger teams, when he scored goals, got into the box and dominated. He has embedded himself into the squad now and he’s become one of the first names on the team sheet. He’s done that bit, which is hard: settling in, not making too many mistakes, keeping it simple. Now the next step is getting back to being a box-to-box midfielder, getting goals, stopping goals at the other end.

“Andreas will now want to be playing like we all know he can – scoring goals, creating goals – and you’ve got the other ones who will be trying to get as many minutes as they can in the first team.

Mason, Angel, Chongy, Brandon… they’ve got to try to influence the manager’s thinking that they can do it week in, week out, because, at the moment, they’re dipping their toes in with a few games. Andreas and Scott are cementing their place and will need to kick on.

Scott McTominay wheels away against Brighton.
Scott McTominay has the ability to become a real box-to-box midfielder.

“Axel’s different because he’s in-between both of them. He’s got to cement down his position, take his chances with both hands and not give the manager a chance to drop him.

“Jimmy Garner is a good player. He’s very mature for his age, so he can handle all the hype and all that comes with playing in the first team. He’s scored some good goals in the Under-23s and the EFL Trophy, so he’s developing that bit.

“He’s just got to be patient because he’s a very good player who will hopefully have a long career at Manchester United. There’s no rush with him. He’s still growing, still got to build himself up in the gym and naturally grow.

“All in all, we’re happy with the Academy players coming through to the first team.”

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