Manchester United grabbed their biggest away win in the Premier League during Erik ten Hag’s reign, as the Dutchman watched his players score three unanswered goals from the stands at Goodison Park.
Alejandro Garnacho’s bicycle goal was so well executed that not only did it steal the limelight from all other goals on the night but it also might’ve wrapped up goal of the season race. However, as far as the individual performances are concerned, no player came close to impressing as much as Kobbie Mainoo, who was only making his first senior league start.
Such was his composure in possession and defensive awareness, including a goal-line clearance to deny a potential momentum-shifting equalizer, that one would be forgiven to think that he was the most seasoned midfielder on the pitch.
Neville had a similar opinion about his display, stating (via Sky Sports): “There’s an 18-year-old out there who looks more composed than anyone.”
Most impressively, the United academy graduate managed to earn praise from one of the greatest midfielders the league has ever seen, Roy Keane.
“Unbelievable. We don’t want to get too carried away but I’m sure we will,” the Irishman said in his post-match analysis for Sky Sports.
“He looked like he always had time on the ball today, his decision-making, in terms of when to go long when to go short, in terms of off the ball as well. What an all-round performance.”
There’s a sweet irony in the 3-0 triumph for big-spenders United that their most impressive performance of the season was orchestrated by their academy talents. It’ll be interesting to see how this display impacts the United boss’s decision-making with regard to squad selection going forward.
Mainoo and Garnacho, meanwhile, need to just keep their foot on the ground and keep doing what they’ve done so far.