Jose Mourinho was not a universally popular choice when he stepped into the Manchester United hot seat. Concerns were ranging from his style of football to his acerbic and often gruff personality. One of the key criticisms of Jose is that he is a rather short term manager who rarely promotes youth players. This criticism may be slightly unfair, but it does seem that Jose often fails to give youth a chance.
With the Europa League final on the horizon, Jose has claimed that he will play a number of academy players in this weekend’s clash with Crystal Palace. With the recent success of Marcus Rashford, who came through Manchester United’s academy, fans will be hoping more young players join him soon and inject Mourinho’s side with more youth and verve. Here is a look at four of these players pushing for more first-team minutes.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Defensive Midfielder:
Fosu-Mensah is one of the most talked about players to have come through the United academy in recent years; the Dutchman is not only a vigorous and powerful defender but also has a great football brain and usually finds himself in the right place at the right time.
He is only 19-years-old but has already played for the Netherlands U21’s and has played for his country at every age level from U15. He is also very versatile; he can play in the middle of the park, at centre-back or even at full-back. Expect to see him strike up an important partnership with record signing Paul Pogba with the more defensive Fosu-Mensah being a perfect foil for Pogba.
Angel Gomes, Attacking Midfielder:
Gomes is an exceptional young player as evidenced by the fact that he won the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year for the best young player in Manchester United’s academy and at only 16 he is the youngest winner of the award.
If he does feature against Crystal Palace, he will be United’s youngest Premier League debutant which would cap an excellent rise for the London-born teenager. He can play anywhere across the frontline and has great pace and dribbling ability. With 12 goals in just 19 appearances for the United under 18’s he is clearly ready to take a step forward.
Axel Tuanzebe, Defender:
Having started United’s last three Premier League matches, including a game against Arsenal, it is clear Mourinho has high hopes and thinks a lot of the Congolese-born England U20 international.
Still only 19-years-old he can play both at centre and fullback as well as being able to do a job as a defensive midfielder. Quick, very calm and a great tackler, Tuanzebe is a player genuinely ready to be an important part of Mourinho’s first team plans at Manchester United.
Josh Harrop, Midfielder:
With Sunday’s game in mind, Mourinho went to watch the U23’s play on Monday against Spurs and saw 21-year-old Harrop score a hat-trick in a 3-2 win.
The boyhood Manchester United fan is a playmaker who likes to make things happen from central midfield or slightly further up the pitch. He has scored ten goals this season and at 21 will surely be agitating to get more playing time sooner rather than later. His hat-trick in front of his manager will likely help him in that quest.