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Manchester United U18’s March To League Title After Beating Wolves

Winning league titles is not the first objective in Manchester United’s academy under the new guise of Nick Cox, but that doesn’t mean it’s not something they look to do. The main objective, which has proven to be so successful in recent years at Carrington, is development. The goal is for the players coming into the academy to go on and make a mark in the football world, whether that be at Manchester United or somewhere else. It’s something that has happened on a number of occasions already this season with Kobbie Mainoo, Alejandro Garnacho, Willy Kambwala, and Omari Forson, and could happen for the 250th time in the club’s history before the end of the campaign.

The current U18 crop are among the most exciting to ever come through the ranks at the club. They have won the Premier League North for the first time since 2018, ending Manchester City’s reign over the division after three consecutive titles, while also accumulating more points after 22 games than the former Champions did after 24 games last season. If they win their final two games, they could break the points record in the North and South leagues, which currently stands at 62.

Nick Cox spoke today in an article about how winning trophies while developing the player’s is the definition of utopia in the world of youth development.

“The primary aim of the Manchester United Academy is, of course, player development, and we will be defined by our ability to support players to have careers in the senior game. But utopia is where you develop individuals and win games at the same time.”

Nick Cox
Manchester United U18's vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
Manchester United celebrate winning U18 Premier League vs Wolverhampton Wanderers. Credit: MUTV

And the Red’s Go Marching On On On:

The trophies this season may not stop there for the U18’s. They face Manchester City at Leigh Sports Village on Tuesday with a chance to win the Premier League Cup, and they will then face the winner of the Premier League South in a game to determine the overall winner of the U18 Premier League. The victor of that match will qualify for the UEFA Youth League next season.

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During the campaign in the Premier League North, Adam Lawrence’s side scored 74 goals, conceding just 24 in 22 games. They have suffered just one defeat so far, which came against their bitter rivals, City, away from home. The biggest win came against Liverpool away, with United winning the game 9-1.

Gabriele Biancheri finished as the team’s top goal scorer, scoring 10 goals in 18 appearances. James Scanlon and Ethan Wheatley were both close behind with eight goals each. United were missing some key players for large parts of the campaign, with Shea Lacey not featuring for long periods due to a knee injury. Jayce Fitzgerald, Tyler Fletcher, and Jack Fletcher also missed some weeks due to injuries. Elyh Harrison was carried off in the win yesterday against Wolves after a collision, and we at AttackingFootball would like to send him our best wishes.

One of the most memorable moments in the season for the young side was the game away at Derby. Cox has often expressed how growth happens when the players are put in unfamiliar environments that they are not comfortable in, and they had to dig deep to get a result out of that game in particular. Jim Thwaites was called up from the U16 squad and smashed the ball into the top corner from 25 yards to save his team a point in the game. It was a memorable moment, but one that would also have been a learning curve for a team that was rolling everyone over in the league up until that point.

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Finley McAllister proved throughout the campaign how vital he was as a captain to the team, dragging them forward in games and playing in a variety of roles to help the team. Players like Harry Amass and Bendito Mantato had breakthrough seasons, with others like Amir Ibragimov making their first steps into the world of U18 football, while also featuring for the U21’s on a handful of occasions.

A player that proved vital in the later stages of the season was Jacob Devaney, stepping up in the absence of players through injury and putting in performance after performance. Ethan Wheatley found his scoring form late on in the season, and earned himself a place in Erik ten Hag’s squad due to that in the most recent game against Bournemouth.

Zach Baumann is one to watch going forward, with the midfielder gaining a number of plaudits throughout the season and many more top-class players like Ethan Williams, who could go on to be one of the most two footed players the club has ever seen.

Exciting times at Manchester United:

It’s an exciting time to be a Manchester United fan, and the future is definitely bright with the development coming through. This is a testament to the work done internally by some brilliant people working in the academy, which include the likes of Luke Fedorenko, Mark Dempsey, Steve Higham, Travis Binnion, and Adam Lawrence, as well as the Director of the Academy, Nick Cox. There are others who are vital to the well-oiled machine too: Jarrad Ince, Neil Gittins, Tony Whelan, Matt Walker, Dave Bushell, Eamonn Mulvey, Jed Mildenhall, Ian Smithson, and Dan Ransom. These are all unsung heroes who are creating magic behind the scenes at Carrington that could make dreams come true at the Theatre of Dreams in the next couple of years.

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Someone else who deserves special mention is Darren Fletcher. The former United midfielder has been criticised in the media from time to time for what role he actually has at Manchester United, but as Andy Mitten recently revealed on the Talk of the Devil’s podcast, Fletcher is a vital player in the bridge from academy to first-team and does a lot of unseen work internally at the club that deserves to be praised, and not undermined.

There is nothing better than seeing young talent flourish at your favourite football club, and the achievement from the 18’s yesterday is hopefully something some of them can emulate for the first-team in the coming years if they can break through.

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