Manchester United tasted defeat away to Astana on Thursday when their youthful squad was unable to change the 2-1 scoreline. The average age of the starting lineup was just above 21 and that too due to Lee Grant’s seniority.
Seven full debuts were made during the fixture in a historic move and fans of the Red Devils got to see a glimpse of the future of their team as teenagers showed off what they were capable of achieving.
From this squad, plenty of positives can be garnered despite the negative result and three players, in particular, ought to deserve a mention as they could be an integral part of United’s future.
1. Dylan Levitt
The only fresh debutant on this list and for good reasons. At 19 years of age, Levitt was always a promising prospect in United’s academy, turning heads in their youth setups.
His notable impact came from his positioning in the midfield pivot and the sheer brilliance with which he partnered James Garner to solidify United’s lion share over the possession for much of the game.
The standout statistic that best explains his contributions is that he made precisely 100 passes during the game, the most of any player on the pitch. Furthermore, nearly all of those passes were on point with his 96% accuracy dwarfed only by the efforts of Garner and Di’Shon Bernard.
Fans on social media begged for the Welsh international to be incorporated more often in the midfield.
2. James Garner
A familiar name owing to his multiple starts and appearances earlier but arguably it was during this game that he was permitted to make his biggest impact yet.
Paired alongside Levitt in the midfield, there was little that Garner did wrong during the fixture and was one of the few players that was trying to be fluid in his approach whilst his teammates shifted to a more conservative style of play in the second-half.
His specialty could be viewed in the fact that he attempted three long balls during the game and all three were successful ones. Such man-finding skill is pivotal for United, especially if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wishes to ape the kind of success that Jose Mourinho enjoyed with the likes of Marouane Fellaini.
3. Angel Gomes
A name that fans have been on the verge of frustration to see kept out of Premier League football. Gomes has always been something of a cult figure in the academy, largely due to his electric pace.
Against Astana, the raw reality of his speed was seen in full effect as the starlet looked to capitalize on every missed pass and counter-attacking play.
His passes were also largely on point, with 92% accuracy and he went on to create three chances during the whole game. It will be interesting to see if such a performance will inspire Solskjaer to use him more often as his very presence can be a catalyst to attacking-style football.
A notable mention also has to be made of the efforts of Ethan Laird and Largie Ramazani. At right-back, Laird did little wrong and was an ever-reliable presence. Ramazani got too little time to make an impact but it was evident that he adheres to a direct style of play and could be a valuable impact asset for the Red Devils.