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Manchester United’s academy watch

As the U-23s returned to the Aon Training Complex to prepare for the new season, let’s have a look at the coaching staff which works tirelessly behind the scenes to nurture the young reds and players in the Manchester United academy amongst many who have been retained by the club this season and offered new contracts showing that the academy has a bright future ahead as it always has promised.

Head Of Academy: Nick Cox

After three years with United, he was promoted to the Head of Academy role in 2019. He worked with Watford’s youngsters for 12 seasons before linking up with Sheffield United and further enhancing his reputation within the youth game. The role covers the overseeing of the entire development programme, which begins with the Under-9s.

Head Of First Team Development: Nicky Butt

A Treble winner with the club in 1999, who rose through the ranks to make 387 senior appearances, before joining Newcastle United in 2004 and later signing for Birmingham City. A member of the Class of 92, he won six Premier League titles with his boyhood club and also played at the 2002 World Cup for England.

After retiring, he returned to United and became Head of Academy in 2016, before taking up his current role three years later, intending to ensure the youngsters are capable of making the step up to the first team. He reports directly to first-team manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

U-23s Lead Coach-Neil Wood

Neil was a homegrown youth product at United and captained the Reserves team during Sir Alex Ferguson’s era. Unfortunately, injuries curtailed his progress but he had spells with Burnley, Coventry City, and Blackpool, among others, before a short stint in Bosnia with FK Zeljeznicar.
The Stretford-born United fan rejoined the Reds and took over as head coach of the Under-23s in 2019.

U-23s Assistant Coach-Quinton Fortune

Quinton Fortune who was a popular player with United, making 126 appearances after arriving from Atletico Madrid’s B team.
The ex-midfielder represented his country at the 1998 and 2002 World Cup finals.
After a spell coaching with Cardiff City, he linked up with Neil Wood to take charge of the Under-23s in the close season of 2019.

U-18s Lead Coach Neil Ryan

Neil Ryan was Under-16s coach before moving up an age group to the Under-18s in the summer of 2018, following Kieran McKenna’s promotion to senior duties. As a player, he started at Luton Town and enjoyed a few years out in the United States before returning to England to join Altrincham.

U-18s Assistant Coach: Colin Little

Colin joined United in 2009, working with the younger age groups and is a key part of the backroom coaching team at Academy level.
He has provided specialist striking work for the likes of Marcus Rashford after being a forward in his playing days.
The Wythenshawe-born coach represented clubs such as Crewe Alexandra, Macclesfield Town and Altrincham during a lengthy career.

The Squad

Nathan Bishop

Nationality: England
Age: 20 Years
Status: On a 2.5-year contract with United
Since making his debut for Southend towards the end of December, the keeper nailed down a regular place with the Essex club and earned recognition at England Under-20 level, where he worked with United coach Richard Hartis.
Nathan is a promising player between the sticks, however, he is yet to register an appearance for the reds.

Matej Kovar

Country: Czech Republic
Age: 18
Status: Signed a new contract in October 2019, terms and length of the contract not disclosed.
The Czech Republic youth international competed for the gloves at Under-18 level and even made his Under-23s debut at Old Trafford in the draw with Everton.
Kovar had a successful run of games in the youth team between February and the end of that season, which culminated in United winning the Under-18 Premier League North title. The young Czech was pushed into the Under-23s squad and made 19 appearances at that level, as well as keeping the goal in the UEFA Youth League. After training with the first team on several occasions ahead of UEFA Europa League fixtures in 2019/20, Kovar was selected as part of the travelling squad for the match against FC Astana in Kazakhstan and was an unused substitute during the Reds’ 2-1 defeat.

Paul Woolston

Age:22 Years
Country: England
Status: Signed a new contract in February extending til 2021.
Capped by England at Under-18 and Under-17 level, Woolston has had plenty of youth loan experience around the North East with the likes of Gateshead, Darlington, Blyth Spartans and South Shields.
He has made 2 appearance for the academy in Premier League 2 and another 180 minutes of action in the EFL Trophy.

Ethan Laird

Age: 17 Years
Country: England
Status: Contract till 2023
A powerful runner who has been with the club since a very young age and has worked his way through the ranks. Laird is a full-back with plenty of pace, who has shown his defensive qualities in the younger age groups. Ethan has appeared 15 times for the Reds this season having scored one goal in the EFL Trophy and serving 3 assists in Premier League 2.
Premier League 2: 10 Apps
EFL Trophy:3 Apps
Europa League ( First Team): 2 Apps.

Max Taylor

Age: 20 Years
Country: England
Status: Contract till 2021
A Mancunian centre-back who was born 10 days into the new millennium, he joined the club in 2014 following a successful trial. He was the only Manchester-born player in the intake of eight players for 2016, although Aidan Barlow hails from nearby Salford. Cancer derailed Max’s career in the recent years however that has not let him slow down and he has come back even stronger and earned himself a new contract and a First Team journey to a European Game earlier in the season where the young reds, unfortunately, lost out to Fc Astana.
Premier League2: 6 Apps
EFL Trophy:1 App
Total:7 Apps

Di’Shon Bernard

Age: 17 Years
Country: England
Status: Contract until 2021.
An imposing centre back who was formerly with Chelsea, Ethan Laird has performed in the 2019/2020 in a way that has exceeded everyone’s expectations of him and is rated highly by scouts all over the country and in Spain. An impressive start to the 2019/20 season saw Bernard given a full senior debut by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with the defender completing the full 90 minutes in United’s 2-1 defeat to FC Astana in the UEFA Europa League.
Premier League2: 12 Appearances 
EFL Trophy:4 Appearances
Europa League: 1 Appearance
Total Appearances: 17

Luca Ercolani

Age:20 years
Country: Italy
Status: Contract until 2021.
Following a successful trial, the defender completed a move from Italian outfit Forli in 2016.
Premier League2:4 Appearances
EFL Trophy:0 Appearances
Total Appearances:4

Arnau Puigmal

Age:19 years
Country: Spain
Status: Contract until 2021.
The boy from Barcelona has quick feet and is calm on the ball, originally performing in midfield. He impressed against United for Espanyol in the 2017 Med Cup to earn a move to Old Trafford.
Premier League2:14 Appearances
EFL Trophy:2 Appearances
Total Appearances:16

Ethan Galbraith

Age:19 years
Country: Northern Ireland
Status: Contract Expires in 2021.
After representing Linfield in his homeland, he impressed during a trial at the Aon Training Complex and was signed in the summer of 2017.
Premier League2:15 Appearances
EFL Trophy:3 Appearances
Europa League:1 Appearance
Total Appearances: 19

Dylan Levitt

Age: 19 Years
Country: Wales
Status: Contract till 2022
Having scored 4 goals in this seasons Premier League 2, The classy midfielder came through the system at United and signed a professional contract in 2018.
A Wales international squad member, he has experience of playing in the European Championship at youth level with his country and also won the Victory Shield with the Dragons.

Premier League 2:12 Appearances with 3 Goals and 4 Assists.
2 Appearances in the EFL Trophy
1 senior team appearance in Europa League.
Total Appearances: 14

Aliou Traore

Age:19 years
Country: France
Status: Contract Expires:30-6-2021
A Midfield powerhouse who was formerly with Paris Saint-Germain and has been capped by France at youth levels. Traore made his debut in a Premier League Cup defeat to Wolves before making his Under-18 Premier League bow in the 2-2 draw with Liverpool in December at The Cliff.
Premier League2: 14 Appearances,4 Goals
EFL Trophy:2 Appearances
Total Appearances: 16

James Garner   

Age: 19 Years   

Country: England   

Status:Contract till 2022          

An influential midfielder who has always been one of the leaders throughout his time at the club, Garner is a brilliant potential.

He enjoyed a marvellous first full year at Under-18 level, making 24 appearances in all competitions, scoring three goals and emerging as an outstanding contributor. So much so, he was shortlisted for the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award.

On 24 October 2019, he made his European debut for Manchester United against Partizan in the Europa League

Premier League2:10 Appearances,8 Goals

Europa League: 4 Appearances

EFL Trophy:2 Appearances,1Goal,1Assist

EFL CUP:1 Appearance

Total Appearances: 

18 Appearances,9 Goals,1 Assist

D’Mani Mellor:

Age:19 Years
Country: England
Status: Contract expires on 30-6-2020
An attacking player who can play up front or in a wider role.
A forward of that ilk, Mellor has been with the club for a long time and is well versed in the United culture.

Premier League2:11 Appearances.4 goals and 4 assists
EFL Trophy:3 Appearances,2 assists
Europa League:1 Appearance
Total Appearances:15

Manchester United are in talks to sign Marc Jurado, Alvaro Fernandez, and Isak Hansen-Aaroen this summer. The Reds have already signed Joe Hugill and Radek Vitek and these players will add more depth and options for the youth setup. Click here to read more about them.

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