Despite a hiccup against Arsenal on Sunday, Ole is still very much at the wheel.
United’s dramatic victory against PSG will live long in the memory of every fan and a big part of that is down to the players involved. Of the match-day squad, seven players were homegrown. That’s without Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba.
Historically, United have played ‘kids’ in the domestic cup competitions. Hopefully, this will be the case for the FA Cup game against Wolves on Saturday.
Scott McTominay and Andreas Pereira have played with a maturity of late, at a time when the club needed them to step up. But how about the others? James Garner, Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and Mason Greenwood. They may not be familiar names to most fans, and even though they have earned the trust of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær, your future in football is never guaranteed.
There’s nothing supporters would love more than to see these kids become first-team regulars, as is always the case when a youngster shows promise.
Here’s a team of the best former academy players, currently active, who moved on from the club. How many would you take back?
GK - Tom Heaton
Tom Heaton’s return to fitness saw him regain his spot in the Burnley net, with good competition from Joe Hart and Nick Pope. It was competition that perhaps forced him out of Man United, with Edwin van der Sar, Ben Foster and Tomasz Kuszczak all playing ahead of him. He played well against United earlier this season and is part of the current England squad.
RWB - Rafael da Silva
This was tough. Does Rafael count as homegrown? Technically, having spent three years in England before turning 21, he does. Fans loved the scrappy little Brazilian, who became the successor to legend Gary Neville after impressing for the reserves. He moved on to Lyon in 2015, after seven years at Man Utd.
CB - Michael Keane
Another player included in the most recent England squad. He impressed during a loan spell at Burnley in 2014, and many thought he’d return to Man United’s first team. However, the loan became a permanent move in January 2015. He also played in the 2011 FA Youth Cup winning team with Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba.
CB - Gerard Pique
Wow. Imagine if Man Utd kept hold of Pique. He re-joined his boyhood club, Barcelona, for a reported £5 million fee in 2008. At that time, Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand were at the peak of their powers but were never replaced. What a bargain for the La Liga giants. What a mistake from United.
CB - Jonny Evans
In 2015, Louis van Gaal decided to keep Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, selling Jonny Evans to West Brom. Sir Alex Ferguson said he saw Evans and Pique as the future of United’s defence, clearly, van Gaal wasn’t impressed. His form at West Brom saw him linked with Arsenal and Man City, before signing with Leicester City in 2018.
LWB - Robbie Brady
Robbie Brady departed Man Utd for Hull City in January 2013 having only featured in one first-team game. Earlier, in the summer window, Paul Pogba left for Juventus. He’s in this side because I feel he’d give energy and good delivery from the left. Would it be a big surprise if Man Utd resigned him? Probably.
CM - Danny Drinkwater
He hasn’t played a league game for Chelsea this season, but as a key member of that incredible title-winning Leicester City team, he can’t be overlooked. He left Old Trafford for Leicester in January 2012, struggling to break into the United midfield. The same strong midfield caused Paul Pogba to leave in July of that year.
CM - Tom Cleverley
Calm down. Cleverley was decent. Maybe he wasn’t the player United fans heard about during his first loan spell at Watford, in which he scored 11 goals. But he was impressive enough to earn a call up to the 2012 GB Olympic team and has played nearly 200 times in the Premier League. Well done, Clevs.
FWD - Adnan Januzaj
Adnan Januzaj’s inclusion as a substitute in Sir Alex Ferguson’s last ever game almost felt like a football ‘Easter egg’ of sorts. A nod from the great man, telling us about this kid. Months later, in his first start for the club, he scored twice in a 2-1 win over Sunderland. His career didn’t really progress and he’s now playing for Real Sociedad. Shame.
FWD - Danny Welbeck
A bit like Januzaj, Danny Welbeck made a big impact on his full debut, scoring from 30 yards against Stoke City. He became an important first team player, and it was a surprise when he was sold to Arsenal in 2014. Van Gaal’s reason being that he wasn’t as prolific as other strikers at the club, and to make way for youth.
FWD - Joshua King
Joshua King left Man Utd six days before Robbie Brady, and also joined a Championship team, Blackburn Rovers. Now at Bournemouth, he currently has nine goals this season. His best tally for the Cherries is 16.