Binnion: There's nothing quite like it
Ahead of a first FA Youth Cup final in more than a decade for Manchester United’s Under-18s, lead coach Travis Binnion explains why there’s “nothing quite like it” in terms of player development.
The young Reds have played four times at the Theatre of Dreams, and a semi-final win over Wolverhampton Wanderers has set up an exciting one-legged final tie against Nottingham Forest, which will be played on Wednesday 11 May (19:30 BST).
Tickets are available now, and you can find out more details here.
Earlier this month, lead coach Travis Binnion told our monthly magazine Inside United about how he prepares the team for games, what his priorities are as a developer of players, his personal memories of the FA Youth Cup and what he’s been pleased with during the tournament so far.
You can order the May edition of Inside United now and read the interview in full. Also in the magazine is a detailed looked at United’s route to the final, profiles of every player in the team and loads of first team and United Women content, too, from interviews with Bruno Fernandes, Victor Lindelof and David De Gea to the complete story of United hat-tricks.
“It’s been fantastic,” Travis, who is also head of U14-U16 player development in the Academy, said.
“To play the teams we’ve played and to play them at Old Trafford, and to play in front of the crowds and earned the right to play one more in the final, in front of what we hope to the biggest crowd so far... if we could write it, we’d write it that way.
“It’s such a hard competition to do well in. You play under pressure and you play with expectation, and that’s everything we’re after in youth development, and the Youth Cup delivers those things.
“I think you find out a lot about players in this tournament. There’s nothing quite like it.”
A jam-packed league schedule precedes the 11 May final at Old Trafford. Binnion’s Under-18s side have played four times in April already and have five fixtures still to come.
Focus for now, then, is on those games, and it will be key to keep things as normal as possible in the build-up to the team’s biggest fixture of the season.
“That’s what we have to do,” Travis explained. “Because everything else about it is not normal. Coming through the club, the lads are aware of the success, of the prominence of doing well in the competition, of the players that have done well and how that’s transpired into really good careers.
“That’s more their education in their formative years. Because once you get into a tournament, they don’t need to think about that. They just need to think about delivering performances themselves.
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“Every youth-team player in the country is aware of the importance of the Youth Cup, so that’s already there. I can’t take that away from them. At our football club, we’ve won it the most times, with some historic players and teams who have been successful in the Youth Cup. But once we get to it ourselves, the last thing we want to be thinking about is that.
“They just need to deliver on that night so our job is just to go ‘this is the game-plan, this is how well you’ve been doing, this is what you need to do on the night.’ And just keep that positivity going.”
Tickets for the FA Youth Cup final are available now and supporters are encouraged to come and support the team. Head here for more information.