Binnion reflects on Papa Johns Trophy journey
Manchester United Under-21s were defeated 4-0 on Tuesday evening by Bolton Wanderers, in the last 16 of the Papa Johns Trophy, but Travis Binnion says there are many positives to take from the young Reds’ journey.
Our youngsters travelled to the University of Bolton Stadium in below-freezing temperatures to take on our League One opponents, and put in a strong showing to thwart their attacks and launch counters of our own.
However, after the United defence was breached on 68 minutes by Dapo Afolayan, the hosts scored another three late on to make the final result a flattering 4-0.
After the match, Binnion, reflected on the young Reds’ performance, having reached the furthest point in the competition of any United side to date.
"I think, up until the last 10 minutes, the lads did really well to stay in the game and compete,” he said in an interview with club media.
“We’ve created a couple of good chances [in the] first half. We could go 1-0 up which could [have given] a different feel to the rest of the game, but ultimately, we’ve come up a little bit short.
“I don’t want to say that’s expected because the football club that we are, we need to [be setting high standards]. We’re aspiring to play at a higher level than this, with all due respect to Bolton, with the players that are coming through.
“But what it does show is how good the players are in League One and how much our young players have still got to learn, in order to compete: first at this level and flourish at this level, to then go higher in the Championship and the Premier League.”
Up until Tuesday’s defeat, the Reds had impressed in the Papa Johns Trophy, topping Group G before beating Wolves Under-21s in the second round.
Binnion believes competitions such as this provide valuable development opportunities for our young players, in addition to the education they receive within the club.
“I think as a season to this point, for the group of players in the professional development phase, they’re getting a lot of exposure, a lot of opportunities,” he said. “[There are] a lot of chances with the first team across almost every week, most days.
“There’s a lot of positives going on and a lot of players are developing but it’s quite sobering in there [the dressing room] because we’ve ended up getting well beaten and that’s obviously not what we want.”
A remarkable 1,600 away supporters travelled to Bolton to cheer on the youngsters, and Binnion was full of praise for their commitment.
“The fans were brilliant,” he said. “To come and support the lads is the mark of the football club really, and the interest they have in the young players and how passionate they are.
“So it’s a great experience. It was tough at the end, but they were brilliant throughout and we’re thankful for them turning out in the numbers that they did.”