Elanga and Garner tipped for bright future
James Garner and Anthony Elanga are great prospects with enormous potential, according to the panellists on this week’s edition of The Debate.
Presenter Mark Sullivan was joined by the Telegraph’s James Ducker and former Reds pair Ben Thornley and Siobhan Chamberlain.
Among the topics discussed on the show were 20-year-old Anthony Elanga and 21-year-old James Garner. Both players experienced impressive 2021/22 seasons, with Elanga breaking into United’s first team while Garner achieved promotion to the Premier League with loan club Nottingham Forest.
Elanga scored his first senior goal for Sweden on Sunday night and was praised by Ducker for his professional attitude.
“I think Anthony has got a great head on his shoulders and he’s got a great appetite to learn and play,” said Ducker. “You do unfortunately get young players who make an early break, get an early contract and it goes downhill from there. I don’t see that with him.
“Towards the end of the season, I think you can tell that the team was suffering in confidence and Anthony’s performances dipped a little bit. But I think he’s one of those that can be very proud of what he delivered and what he contributed.
“Anthony sort of came in and filled [the] void at that time [when players were struggling for form] and delivered some quite big performances, [and] scored some important goals.”
Thornley agreed with Ducker, explaining that the Swedish international’s physical attributes make him a daunting prospect for defenders.
“I think Anthony, with the pace that he’s got, he will cause defences a lot of trouble,” he said. “He’s really good in the air as well, I think people forget that. He’s got two good feet and we saw against Atletico Madrid with the first team, and when he made his debut at the back end of the season before against Wolves, that he can score goals.
“I think that has got to be something that he will add to his game the more he develops and the more that he grows physically and mentally.”
Another United player who caught the eye last season was midfielder Garner, who was on loan at Forest. Siobhan Chamberlain believes that while Garner possesses great technical ability, it is his mentality that sets him apart from others on the pitch.
She said: “He’s been outstanding, hasn’t he?
“For the performances that Forest have put in to get them into the Premier League and the performance that he put in personally in the final at Wembley, it shows that in the big games, he can step up to the mark.
“Sometimes you see players [who] perform well throughout the league season, but can they perform in the big games when it really matters? He did that, and he showed that mentality he’s got in him to be a big game player. I think that’s what you want as a Manchester United player."
Ducker shared Chamberlain’s view and offered his thoughts on how pre-season could play out for the 21-year-old.
“I believe he will go on tour,” he said. “I think Erik ten Hag wants to have a good look at him, understandably.
“Garner played 49 games across all competitions last season and what they don’t want – he’s 21 – is next season he sits on the bench and doesn’t play. He plays what, three games over the course of 10 months? That does the club no benefit and it certainly doesn’t do James Garner any good.
“If he comes back and he plays 25 games for United next season, great, but I think that’s got to be the primary target. Anything less than 10 games next season is an absolute waste of time.”
Ducker added: “He’s an exciting player. He’s got a bit of everything. [He] circulates the ball really well, his set-piece delivery is superb, but he seems to have a bit of steel to him as well, mentally.”
Watch the full discussion – which sees the panellists touch on a variety of different topics – on this week’s episode of The Debate.