Binnion: "It's taught them what it takes"
Manchester United Under-18s’ FA Youth Cup run has built competition in the squad and taught the young Reds what it takes to be a successful professional, says lead coach Travis Binnion.
Four Old Trafford victories - against Scunthorpe United, Everton, Leicester City and Wolves - and an away win at Reading have secured United’s place in the FA Youth Cup final, a first for the club since 2011.
With 52,000 tickets sold for the momentous Old Trafford occasion on Wednesday 11 May, excitement is growing, and that anticipation has proved a key learning tool all throughout the tournament.
“The lads are competitive by nature anyway,” Binnion began.
Travis Binnion's Youth Cup final preview
Under-18s lead coach Travis Binnion looks forward to a huge Old Trafford night for his side on Wednesday 11 May...
“But when they realise it’s 11 players to be picked and you win or you’re out, it goes up. And then obviously the more momentum you build through the competition, stakes are raised, so the lads are really at it.
“They’ve been at it for a good 10-12 weeks, in terms of seeing a noticeable change in the intensity, them realising what they’ve got to do to win and get in the team.
“I think when you’re working at something and you know you’re getting better and you feel that in games and then you’re successful as a team as well, I think there’s no better feeling than that in life, whatever we do in our jobs.
“I think the kids - and they are still kids but they’re developing into young professionals - they’re starting to understand more and more what’s required to be successful and that’s powerful.”
It’s been two months since United triumphed over Wolves in the semi-final - thanks to a Charlie McNeill double and an emphatic finish from Alejandro Garnacho. Since, the U18s have enjoyed a jam-packed April schedule, with nine league fixtures last month, and Binnion believes that constant flow of games has proven an enjoyable challenge.
“They’ve dealt with it really well,” he said.
“I think there’s nothing worse than the end of the season if there’s not many games or it sort of dwindles down and the lads are [just] waiting to finish the season. We’re not in that state so it’s been good.
“As a coach, there’s always something around the corner and the lads know that there’s this game and that game. So it’s been enjoyable.
“This season’s been busy in general. We looked as a staff earlier and across the pro phase we’ve played more games than we’ve ever played.
“I think as coaches at this time of year it’s nice to have games. You can react to games, you can see lads working on stuff, you can see lads progressing, maybe having a few challenges, whereas if you’re just training it’s good but it’s an extension of what they’ve already done in the previous 10 months.”
Watch Travis Binnion’s interview in full above, where he talks about how United will approach the Youth Cup final and what it means to have so many fans attending the match.