Ro-Shaun Williams and Demi Mitchell.

Opinion: The evidence shows tour can change lives

A lot of learning is going on at the UCLA – which is not a surprise, considering it is one of the USA’s foremost academic institutions.

But it’s at the Drake Stadium, at one end of this historic and colourful campus, where football lessons are being taught to pupils who are eager to learn. 

The venue is United’s base during this summer's training camp in Los Angeles.
Young players with Gary Oldman at training.
Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong, Josh Bohui, Mason Greenwood and James Garner with Gary Oldman.
One man who  is studying hard - perhaps as a mature soccer student - is our new goalkeeper Lee Grant, who joined the club from Stoke City earlier this month. 

He’s a man who has pretty much seen it all as a professional - hundreds of games for the likes of Derby County, Sheffield Wednesday and Burnley in a distinguished career. And yet - he still feels he has a lot to learn. 

In his first interview as a United player, which went out live on MUTV, Lee told me:
“That’s probably the reason why I’m here. I’d say I’m a player that has always been happy to learn. I’m an open book.”

And who better to learn from than the world’s top keeper David De Gea, Argentina’s no.1 Sergio Romero and even Portugal’s top prospect Joel Pereira?
Stewart Gardner interviewing Lee Grant.
Our man Stewart Gardner spoke to new signing Lee Grant on day one of training at UCLA.

At the other end of football’s experience scale, what an incredible learning experience Tour 2018 will be for the eight teenagers who are making up part of this squad: Josh Bohui, Tahith Chong, James Garner, Angel Gomes, Mason Greenwood, Ethan Hamilton and Ro-Shaun Williams.

Training, preparing and socialising with the hugely experienced and successful players who’ve pretty much done it all will be a unique, money-can’t-buy, opportunity for these young Academy lads. 

One of them, Mason Greenwood, is only 16 years old.

Just let that sink in a little bit… SIXTEEN!

I was barely allowed to cross the road on my own at the age of 16. But Mason is getting an opportunity that will stand him in good stead for his future career. 

Watch as's youth expert Adam Marshall profiles the young prospects on Tour 2018.

I’m sure these young players will be desperate to catch the eye of Jose Mourinho during training and, hopefully, in one of our five big games to come.

If they're in need of a role model, who better to gain inspiration from than Scott McTominay? The Academy graduate was in their shoes exactly a year ago and he is now an established first-team squad member, and a full International with Scotland.

The evidence shows that a lot can happen after a good pre-season tour - if you’re willing to learn!

The opinions in this story are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Manchester United Football Club.

The prospects with a chance to impress on tour article’s Adam Marshall profiles the batch of youngsters in the travelling squad for Tour 2018.

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