Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag may be just six months or so into the job at Old Trafford, although the Dutchman has already illustrated his willingness to look to the future, having shown notable encouragement to the club’s academy talent thus far.
Arguably the biggest success story of the 52-year-old’s tenure to date with regards to promoting from the youth ranks has been 18-year-old starlet, Alejandro Garnacho, with the Argentine sensation already making his mark on the first team.
Despite having been held back earlier in the campaign due to apparent concerns over his attitude, the teenager went on to produce a string of eye-catching displays heading into the World Cup break.
After starring during last season’s FA Youth Cup triumph – scoring seven goals in the competition – the former Atletico Madrid prospect is now replicating that form at senior level, with two goals and two assists in all competitions to date.
That encouraging haul includes that dramatic, stoppage-time winner against Fulham in what was the Red Devils’ last competitive outing, with that composed finish seeing pundit Jamie Redknapp dub him the “full package“.
With the hope now that Garnacho can firmly establish himself in Ten Hag’s side moving forward, the aim will now be to find the next exciting talent on the club’s academy conveyor belt, with one standout figure seemingly that of Sam Mather.
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The 18-year-old will likely be hoping to emulate his fellow youngster and force his way into the senior set-up over the coming months, with the Englishman yet another exciting wide player to have been developed from United’s academy, following in the footsteps of the likes of Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Marcus Rashford and of course, Garnacho.
The Salford-born menace was also a vital part of the Youth Cup success last term, having scored three goals and laid on two assists in his six outings in the competition, including a “wonderful” strike in the win over Everton at the Theatre of Dreams, as per journalist Maynard Manyowa.
The electric dynamo also scored five goals and laid on nine assists in 22 games at Premier League U18 level last season and has continued to showcase his quality again in the current campaign, with four assists in just three games in that competition this time around.
Mather has most recently hit the headlines, however, after netting a stunning goal to seal a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace to get this season’s Youth Cup journey underway, having brilliantly cut in onto his right foot from the left flank before unleashing a curling effort into the top corner.
Having featured on the right wing to accommodate Garnacho last term, the youngster is now flourishing in his favoured position on the left, with that latest strike an indication of just what he could offer to Ten Hag in the years to come.
While he will need to now prove himself at Premier League 2 level before making the step up to the first team, Mather is certainly one to keep an eye on for both supporters and the United boss.
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