A proud night for United's Academy

Wednesday 08 December 2021 22:53

Eleven players in Manchester United's matchday squad against Young Boys in the UEFA Champions League were players from the club's famed Academy.

In our final match in Group F and with the Reds already through to the round of 16 as group winners, Ralf Rangnick opted to make wholesale changes to his starting line-up with the bench fully consisting of homegrown players.

The experienced Tom Heaton, who started out with United and returned in summer after more than a decade away from the club, was joined by fellow shotstopper Matej Kovar.

Teden Mengi and Shola Shoretire, who have featured for United before, were also on the bench, alongside Bjorn Hardley, Charlie Savage and Zidane Iqbal.

Dean Henderson, Mason Greenwood, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Elanga all started for the Reds under the floodlights at the Theatre of Dreams against the Swiss champions, making it a total of 11 Academy-reared players from 18 in Wednesday’s matchday squad.

Greenwood, of course, opened the scoring with a superb acrobatic goal to send United ahead in the ninth minute. The amazing goal was our no.11’s first Champions League strike of the season.

In the second half, Mengi and Shoretire came on for their Champions League debuts as the Reds were looking to regain the lead in the game’s final stages.

Shoretire came on in a double substitution which also featured Heaton, who finally got his long-awaited and well-deserved debut for the club. Our no.22 received his first competitive minutes in the United shirt on Wednesday evening, replacing Henderson in the 68th minute.

In the final minutes, United made another double substitution, giving Iqbal and Savage their first-team debuts, meaning a total of three Reds made their first-team bows under the floodlights at the Theatre of Dreams.

Our no. 72's dad, BT Sport co-commentator Robbie Savage, who of course is a former United Academy player himself, was delighted and proud to see his son involved...

When the final whistle blew to conclude the group phase of the Champions League for United, nine players from our Academy had been on the pitch against the Swiss champions.

A total of six teenagers featured for the Reds and this was only the fifth time this had happened in Champions League history, and only the second time an English side had featured as many teens on the biggest stage of European football.

All in all, it was a very proud night for United and our Academy.