Alvaro's chance in the Land of Opportunity

Friday 21 July 2023 11:10

Alvaro Fernandez can grasp his chance to impress on Tour 2023, according to former Manchester United winger Ben Thornley.

The MUTV pundit, speaking ahead of Saturday night's big game with Arsenal which is live on the official club channel, has monitored the full-back closely since he arrived at the club from Real Madrid as a 16-year-old.

The Spanish youngster had a season on loan with Championship side Preston North End, winning their Young Player of the Year award, and has returned to United in a bid to force his way into Erik ten Hag's plans.

How to watch and follow United v Arsenal


New Jersey is the first stop on Tour 2023, with Arsenal the opponents.

Fernandez was handed a vote of confidence with a starting spot in the victories over Leeds United and Lyon, before flying out to New York with the squad for the challenges that lie ahead, beginning with the clash against the Gunners (22:00 BST).

Although the 20-year-old has yet to make a senior appearance for the Reds, he has been on the bench for Premier League games against Chelsea and Brighton & Hove Albion, and will be striving to provide cover for Luke Shaw.

Tyrell Malacia's injury has ruled him out of Tour 2023, while Diogo Dalot and Brandon Williams are capable of operating on both sides of the defence.

"I was impressed with the season that he had at Preston last term," Thornley told us. "And I think that is what he needed because he was excelling at Under-21s level and he just needed that little step up of a challenge.

"And I think he took it with aplomb. Last season, I thought he was really good and, you know, he's started ahead of Brandon Williams in Oslo and again on Wednesday.

"So it just shows what the manager's thinking is. We know Alvaro is in a difficult position with Luke Shaw ahead of him but, listen, that's what you need to set yourself as a young player, as a challenge to dislodge these players and keep performing at a high level where the manager can't ignore you.

"I'm really, really confident that, you know, if the chance doesn't arise for him at Manchester United, he will still play at a very high level of things," admitted the former Class of '92 member. "An intelligent footballer, as a left-footed left-back, he gives the team balance and he can score his fair share of goals as well.

"So yeah, I really enjoy watching him and I'm glad he's been given the chance. Of course, an injury [like the one for Malacia] can open the door. I mean nobody wishes an injury on anybody but, sometimes, that is the time when you do get your chance and opportunity.

"I know that Fernandez doesn't want any of his team-mates to get hurt but, when it happens to be in your position, you just have to take it because you know, at the end of the day, football is a cut-throat business. And being on the pitch, he's no different. You have to grab your chance when it comes along, no matter how that chance does come along."

United v Arsenal is live on MUTV on Saturday night - 22:00 BST kick-off.