6 Youngsters Man Utd Should Play Against Rochdale in the Carabao Cup

Manchester United face Rochdale in the third round the Carabao Cup and the contest will provide manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with an opportunity to blood young talent as part of the club’s new long-term project.

Solskjaer is well aware of the success that youngsters developed in the right way can have after first arriving at Old Trafford back in 1996 – at a time when the famed ‘Class of ‘92’ were establishing themselves as some of the best players in England.

Having started to shed the deadweight that has built up in the years since Sir Alex Ferguson, the Norwegian hasn’t hesitated to hand out those crucial chances so far and is expected to put his faith in youth once more when the League One side visit Old Trafford later this month.

It is unlikely to be a full junior side, but United’s Under-23 side have already shown what they can do this season after beating Rotherham’s first-team in an EFL Trophy group game last month.

Not necessarily all from the start, here are six United youngsters Solskjaer should play against Rochdale…


Dylan Levitt


Age: 18

Position: Midfielder

United Appearances: 0

Midfielder Dylan Levitt was called up to train with the first-team squad last season and has even twice been drafted into the senior Wales squad by United legend Ryan Giggs, both in June and just earlier this month, although he is yet to make his debut.


Brandon Williams

Brandon Williams

Age: 19

Position: Left-back

United Appearances: 0

A surprise inclusion in the travelling squad for the first time when United met Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last season, Brandon Williams has been captaining the Under-23 side for much of this season and is rated very highly.


Axel Tuanzebe

Axel Tuanzebe

Age: 21

Position: Centre-back

United Appearances: 10

United fans have high expectations of Axel Tuanzebe, a player who has been at the club since the age of since of eight. He has been Solskjaer’s preferred back-up centre-back in the Premier League this season and already has first-team experience after two loans at Aston Villa.


James Garner

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Age: 18

Position: Midfielder

United Appearances: 1

James Garner has already been likened to Michael Carrick by Solskjaer himself and looks to possess all the ability of a future star. He made his senior debut last season aged 17 and arguably might have played more first-team football by now were he not still so young.


Angel Gomes

Angel Gomes

Age: 19

Position: Midfielder

United Appearances: 5

Angel Gomes may have a very small physical stature, but the young talent who made his United debut back in 2017 at the age of just 16 has tremendous natural technical ability. He can play the ball in tight spaces that is key when facing opponents that defend deep and narrow.


Mason Greenwood

Mason Greenwood

Age: 17

Position: Striker

United Appearances: 9

After getting his first taste of senior football last season, enjoying an excellent pre-season and playing nearly every game so far in 2019/20, Mason Greenwood got his first official goal against Astana in Europe. He is calm and composed way beyond his years.


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Chris Smalling Reveals He Has Not Given Up Hope of Reviving England Career

Chris Smalling has revealed his disappointment at not featuring in Gareth Southgate’s England plans, but insists he is not yet resigned to his international career being over.

The on-loan Roma defender last played for his country during England’s 2-2 draw with Scotland in the summer of 2017. But he was omitted from the squad the following November, with Southgate saying in no uncertain terms that Smalling lacked the on the ball ability of John Stones and Harry Maguire, making it more difficult for him to slot into England’s building from the back philosophy.

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The former Fulham man had previously been an England regular, playing in every fixture at Euro 2016 and earning 31 caps since his debut in 2011.

Now, in an interview with the ​Telegraph, Smalling spoke about the no frills manner in which Southgate dropped him from the England squad, despite playing week in week out at Old Trafford. 

“I am disappointed. I was used to going to England,” Smalling began. ” I was playing regularly for United up to when I left. The aspiration is always there. Ultimately it is down to the manager’s choice.

“What was said was maybe unfair at times and managers [who have selected me] at United are some of the world-class ones. I feel even the managers who have been brought in at United have certain ways of playing and some of them are quite similar to Gareth.

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“I guess football is a game of opinions. I am definitely not going to agree with him and he might not agree with some of the things that I would say back. Ultimately I would never close that door and hopefully work my way in at some point. It is looking slim under Gareth but never say never.”

Smalling was effectively replaced by Maguire for the second time in two years this summer, as ​Manchester United broke the bank this summer to secure the former Leicester man’s services for £80m. 

Seeking guaranteed game time and a brand new footballing education, Smalling made the ​season long switch to Roma at the end of the transfer window – and he insists that it is an opportunity that excited him.

“If I had stayed I would have taken on that challenge and I would have been very confident that I would have played the number of games that I was worthy of. Equally I have a challenge here at Roma.

“This is the perfect opportunity to try and live in a different culture. In that respect it is like a total change, although football is still the same football.”


Smalling’s Roma debut has been delayed due to a groin strain, and it is touch and go as to whether he will make his first appearance against Bologna on Sunday. 

British players have famously experienced mixed fortunes when playing abroad. It will be interesting to see how Smalling fares, and whether his performances in Rome can alter international boss Gareth Southgate’s stance.

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Manchester United Open Contract Talks With Teenage Starlet in Bid to Fight Off Barcelona Interest

​Manchester United have started contract talks with Angel Gomes in an effort to ward off foreign interest in the teenager before his current deal expires.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been keen (or forced) to promote youth since joining the club, and has handed regular game time to the likes of Daniel James and Scott McTominay in the early stages of this season, whilst also getting Gomes, Tahith Chong and Mason Greenwood more involved in working with the first team.

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With Solskjaer looking to build a squad for the future, the Manchester Evening News report that United want to keep Gomes and are currently negotiating with the player – who is into the final year of his current contract. Barcelona are said to be interested in the youngster, and are monitoring how the talks develop, with Gomes free to talk to other clubs in January if he cannot come to an agreement with United.

Gomes only made his first start for the club in Thursday night’s Europa League win against Astana and has appeared on the bench just once in the Premier League so far this season, indicating that he remains some way down the pecking order for now.

However, the 19-year-old impressed during the game, and could be in line for more action following his display. Captain on the night Nemanja Matic was particularly impressed with how United’s youngsters played, highlighting how gaining experience at such a young age is invaluable for their progression.

Nemanja Matic,Rangelo Janga

“It’s great the club gives more chance to young players to improve, because they can only improve if they play the games. I’m happy for them and it is good for them. They’re young, they want to prove they should wear the shirt so they are the future of the club and I wish them all the best,” he told BT Sport, as reported by The Mirror.

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Dimitar Berbatov: 7 of the Former Man Utd, Tottenham and Fulham Striker’s Best Moments

This week we saw Dimitar Berbatov officially announce his retirement from football.

The 38-year-old took to Instagram to announce the decision, saying: “I did it my way!”

The Bulgarian will go down as one of the finest technicians of his era and enjoyed a fantastic club career that spanned six countries, eight clubs and included over 500 league appearances.

His Premier League career, that involved spells at Spurs and Manchester United as well as a stint at Fulham, was full of get-out-your-seat moments and made you question whether you’d seen such a natural footballer on English soil.

Here’s our attempt at picking out his seven best moments during his time in the Premier League.


1. His First Premier League Goal

Dimitar Berbatov,Robbie Keane,Teemu Tainio,Aaron Lennon

After joining from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2006 for £10.9m, a fee that made him the most expensive Bulgarian footballer ever, Berbatov took only two games to get off the mark in the Premier League.

His goal was created down the right by Aaron Lennon, who used his trickery and speed to work a driven cross across the face of the Sheffield United goal. On the end of it, all alone, was Berbatov to tuck away his maiden goal for the club and kickstart a fine career in north London.

It was by no means his best goal (probably his easiest) or an important one (the first in a 2-0 win over the Blades on matchday two), but your first Premier League goal is your first Premier League goal.


2. Partnership With Robbie Keane

Tottenham's Dimitar Berbatov (L) celebra

Despite playing with the likes of Wayne Rooney among others, Berbatov never had a better strike partner than Irishman Robbie Keane.

A UEFA Cup game against Club Brugge in November, where Berbatov scored two and set up Keane for the other, convinced Spurs boss Martin Jol that the pair should play together more often.

It was a partnership that became a pleasure to watch. Keane the passionate, hard-working one with the fun celebrations and chirpy nature; Berbatov the aloof, laid-back one who could make any movement on the pitch seem effortless.

The pair were that in-sync that they both won the Player of the Month award in April 2007 and by the end of the campaign; Keane had finished with 22 goals, Berba with 23.

Although a brief partnership, it was one Spurs fans will never forget.


3. ‘That’ Turn Against West Ham

Cristiano Ronaldo,Carlos Tevez,Dimitar Berbatov

Berbatov left Spurs in 2008, signing for reigning Premier League champions Manchester United for £30.75m.

By the time West Ham travelled to Old Trafford at the end of October, the Bulgarian front-man had failed to get going at his new club, having scored just one league goal.

It wasn’t a goal that Berbatov will be remembered for on that night, but instead a piece of magic that would later be named the ‘Berba Spin’.

It all started with Berbatov doing well to keep an overhit Anderson pass in-play close to the byline, then, in one sublime movement, Berbatov spun, pirouetted and danced away from West Ham defender James Collins.

The defender was still coming to his senses as Berbatov advanced towards goal and slid a beautifully weighted pass across the six-yard area for Cristiano Ronaldo, who got his second of the game.

It was the first time the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ got to see the magic of Berbatov, with Sir Alex Ferguson describing the piece of skill as “stunning” and “magnificent” in his post-match interview.


4. His First Premier League Title

Manchester United v Arsenal - Premier League

His performances at Spurs helped them to the Carling Cup in 2008, their first piece of silverware since 1999, but they were never likely to challenge for a title during Berbatov’s time at the club.

In his first season at Old Trafford, United won the title for the third term running, overcoming Liverpool by four points.

Berbatov enjoyed a fine season in 2008/09, scoring nine goals and setting up the same amount, only Rooney and Ronaldo scoring more for the Red Devils that season.

That season also saw him score three game-winning goals, including a stoppage-time winner over Bolton in January 2008.

Although it wasn’t Berbatov’s best season statistically as he adjusted to life in a new environment, his first Premier League crown has to go on this list.


5. Hat-Trick Against Liverpool

Dimitar Berbatov

United lost their title to Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea in 2009/10, leaving Ferguson’s side desperate to regain their crown the season after, which they went and did.

One game that sticks out from that season was the 3-2 win over Liverpool at Old Trafford, a game where Berbatov became the first man for United to score a hat-trick against Liverpool in 64 years.

His first came from a Ryan Giggs corner, the striker doing exceptionally well to reach back and head home expertly, holding off Fernando Torres in the process. Although his first was good, the second will be the one that will always be remembered.

A left-footed cross down the right by Nani was brought down with such ease by Berbatov’s thigh, 13-yards out and with his back to goal, before Berba delivered a world-class overhead-kick over Jamie Carragher and past a stationary Pepe Reina in the Liverpool goal. Truly brilliant.

However, his third of the match might have been the most important. After Liverpool had made it 2-2, Berbatov came up trumps once more in the 84th minute, leaping above Carragher to nod home a John O’Shea cross and send Old Trafford into pandemonium. 


6. His Performance Against Blackburn

Manchester United's Bulgarian striker Di

Really, a performance against Blackburn, really? Yes, it was that good.

This was, arguably, his best individual showing in a United shirt as the Red Devils ran out 7-1 victors.

Berbatov, who had six league goals coming into this November fixture, added another five to his tally, becoming just the fourth man to score five in one Premier League game.

His hat-trick goal summed him up as a player perfectly. He picked up the ball deep in his own half before effortlessly linking up with Patrice Evra down the left, when the ball fell to him just short of the halfway line, he played an exquisite crossfield pass to Nani along the ground with the lace of his boot. Inch-perfect.

He then waltzed into the box all alone, waiting for Nani to pick him out, which he did and Berba finished it off with a simple finish into the top-left corner. Precision.

Berbatov’s 20 league goals were pivotal for United regaining their crown that season.


7. Showing His Class Against Aston Villa

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We had to find a way to get all of his Premier League teams involved!

Berbatov left United in 2012 for Fulham. He scored 19 league goals in 51 appearances at Craven Cottage, but his most memorable moment in west London was his touch against Aston Villa.

Just watch look up the video. It’s one of the best touches in Premier League history.

If that’s a thing?​ It’s definitely a thing.


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Stats Underline Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Focus on Youth as Manchester United Kids Conquer Astana

The Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era at Manchester United has been a mixed one as far as results go, but one thing supporters are universally grateful for is the ‘Baby-faced Assassin’s’ commitment to youth.

Long gone are the days of signing players on the wrong side of 30 and hoping for the best; now the likes of Marcus Rashford, Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are leading the youthful charge into what they hope will be another golden age at Old Trafford.

But the drive towards using younger players doesn’t stop at the first team. There is an undercurrent of stars emerging from the academy who are yet to fully establish themselves in the senior picture, and we got a good look at a few of those in the 1-0 ​Europa League ​victory over Astana on Thursday

Mason Greenwood

The likes of Axel Tuanzebe, Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong and Mason Greenwood were all handed first European starts for the club; the latter trio all yet to turn 20.

Incidentally, it was the first time in just under ten years that they had started with as many as three teenagers in a European game, the last coming in November 2009 when Danny Welbeck, Federico Macheda and Rafael all started against Besiktas.

And while the youthful side led to a performance that wasn’t as ruthless as you’d expect, it was one of their young guns who got it; and in doing so made history. 

Ready to feel old? Here it comes…

Mason Greenwood, in netting the 73rd minute opener, became the first player born in the 2000s to score a senior goal for ​Manchester United. He was born 22 months after the turn of the century, in October 2001.

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So, there we have it. Even if the present is overcast, the forecast for the future is bright at Old Trafford.

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