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Manchester United’s U18’s: On The Brink Of Glory

Manchester United’s U18 side made a step towards winning their first bit of silverware on Saturday with a win over Crystal Palace at Carrington in the Premier League Cup Semi-Final. United dominated large parts of the game and ran out comfortable 5-0 winners in the end. Goals from Ethan Wheatley, captain Finley McAllister, possibly Harry Amass (huge deflection), and Gabriele Biancheri sent the Reds to the final, where they will face their noisy neighbours, Manchester City.

It’s been a remarkable season for Adam Lawrence and his players, who remain unbeaten in the U18 Premier League with just a number of games to go. It’s a league competition United have yet to win since its inception in 2014, and if they manage to do so, it would rank closely with the FA Youth Cup victory back in 2022, which included the likes of Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo.

An U18 Double On The Horizon?

United’s 18s are currently 14 points clear at the top of the table, but City do have two games in hand, which could cut the gap to seven. The Reds have scored the most goals in the division and conceded the fewest. Liverpool, in third, are 20 points behind the leaders from Manchester, who have shown no signs of slowing down at any stage during the campaign.

The only teams to take points from United this season are Derby County’s U18 side and Nottingham Forest’s U18 side. The game against Derby away from home was a particularly important win, with 16-year-old Jim Thwaites coming off the bench to launch the ball into the top corner to grab a point and keep the unbeaten record going. Thwaites has recently begun getting game time for the 18s up from the under-16 side and is slowly showing his class with some impressive cameos off the bench. It’s something the backroom staff likes to do with their players to expose them to new challenging environments, which encourages growth.

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It’s a campaign that hasn’t all been plain sailing, despite the performances of the side in the league. One of the star men, Shea Lacey, has missed large portions of the season through injury, as have Jack and Tyler Fletcher, who signed from Manchester City in the summer transfer window. Jayce Fitzgerald, another highly touted young man, has also been absent for portions of the season, which has allowed others to come in and shine for the side.

Among those is Jacob Devaney, who has been immense in the middle of the park so far. Jayden Kamason is another player who deserves a massive amount of praise, with the greatest compliment you can give to the young defender being that he could play anywhere on the pitch and look like it was his natural position.

Players have also gone to new levels this year when compared to last season. Ethan Wheatley and Ethan Williams have shown huge improvements in their performances compared to last season, with Wheatley already notching up 15 goals. Williams has a particularly interesting profile due to the fact that he’s almost entirely two-footed, with the ability to go either side with the same affect and take corners with either foot from either side.

It’s an exciting young side, managed in an exciting way by Adam Lawrence. They are strong in possession, brave defensively, and absolutely electric on transition. Everything you’d want from a team representing the club, and that’s a testament to the work being done to make that possible.

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The 18’s face their title rivals Manchester City next away from home, with the chance to extend their lead at the top and almost guarantee the league title coming to the red side. A huge boost will be that, according to Academy Scoop, Shea Lacey could be set to return to the team after recovering from his ongoing knee issue. A big couple of weeks for the young guns.

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