Rangnick impressed by FA Youth Cup victory
Ralf Rangnick says he hopes Manchester United’s Under-18s can be inspired by Anthony Elanga’s recent first team success as they target FA Youth Cup glory.
The interim manager was in attendance at Old Trafford on Thursday as the young side secured a semi-final spot with a last-minute 2-1 victory over Leicester City.
The visiting Foxes had taken a first-half lead through former-United striker Chris Popov, before Alejandro Garnacho levelled with a free-kick curler just before the break. The Spanish winger then scored the winner in the 89th-minute winner, finishing emphatically after a pass from Kobbie Mainoo.
Rangnick’s commitment to youth has been demonstrated by his faith in Elanga and the chances given to the Swedish forward, who has taken every one he’s been given. And the German coach explained to us how he enjoyed the FA Youth Cup game, saying: “I’m happy for the boys that they qualified for the semi-final.
“For me, it was the first time I got to see them play in a competitive game. Very technical football, very technical players with a lot of talent obviously.
“Now, it will be interesting to see in the future, in the next one, two, three years, if we will see some of those boys play in our first team.
“It’s a big step as we all know and in the end it’s all about determination, about mentality. But what I saw technically was really good.”
Asked specifically about Elanga, Rangnick said the current Under-18s crop should be looking to the 19-year-old for inspiration.
“He’s the best example of what can happen in two or three months,” Ralf insisted.
“When I came here at the beginning of December, he had already had on his own mind [that he was leaving on loan], almost left, it was only about to which club he should go on loan.
“For me, it was clear after the first training session I saw him that this was an interesting player, and we should rather consider to keep him in the club. This shows what is possible in football with a top mentality, a professional mentality and hopefully he can be a person they are trying to improve and develop their careers in a similar way.”
Elanga, of course, is not the only Academy graduate in the first team. Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard are others in the outfield positions, as well as goalkeepers Tom Heaton and Dean Henderson. Hannibal has also been training regularly with the group and travelled to Spain in midweek.
Rangnick also handed debuts to midfield pairing Zidane Iqbal and Charlie Savage in December’s UEFA Champions League match against BSC Young Boys. There are plenty of examples for the current Under-18s to look up to, and none better than Elanga, who scored the all-important equaliser in Madrid on Wednesday night.
The young Reds will now host one of Brighton and Wolves in the semi-final, with the game set to be played at Old Trafford next month. The team is also competing in the UEFA Youth League, where, after topping Group F before Christmas, they take on Borussia Dortmund at Leigh Sports Village on Tuesday night.
That match will be broadcast live on MUTV from 19:45 GMT, and supporters are welcome to attend as well. Rangnick has outlined his intention to be watching once again as this group looks to continue an exciting season.