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The Academy: United v City – Preview

Tomorrow sees the first Micro-Derby of the season between United and City with both clubs flying high in the Premier League and showing great potential in the Academy League. But while City currently occupy top spot, United lie 7th (out of 10) in Group C having won just two of their opening matches and suffering defeat three times.

United’s form has been inconsistent but promising while City have enjoyed a tremendous start to the season winning five from their opening six matches.

Form goes out of the window for a Derby and both teams will be looking to get one over the other in what promises to be a competitive game played in unusually fantastic weather conditions with Manchester bathing in unbelievably high temperatures for late September.

City will no doubt come into the game looking for an element of revenge from last year’s 6-1 mauling at the hands of United’s Academy. That day was a season turning point in February and saw the emergence of Larnell Cole as one of United’s most talented stars. He stole the show that day and stepped up in the absence of more higher profile players who were injured.

This time around, it could be another Cole who shows his potential, only this time it could be ex-Red Andy Cole’s son Devante [Cole] for City. United will definitely be out to halt City’s impressive start to the season and show the boss exactly what they learnt from last week.

Last week saw United beaten by Blackburn in a game that no doubt offered Paul McGuiness many positives but also plenty of technical issues to address in order to develop the team and the individuals. I doubt Paul would’ve been impressed with the hard-knock tackling of Blackburn last week and I imagine he’ll be hoping for a stronger referee tomorrow and a less physical approach from City.

Improvements need to be made in central midfield where United were clinically dissected when they lost possession and had to defend counter attacks. I’m sure the manager’s addressed that during the week and like the rest of us, he’ll be looking to see some progression.

Any improvements will need to be made with the possible absence of James Weir who’s suffering from a knee injury and looks likely to miss out. That could pave the way for a return to action for Charni Ekangamene. The Belgian midfielder has recovered from a series of minor injuries and could be the man to replace James. If he does start in central midfield he’ll be assigned to the holding role allowing Joe Rothwell more freedom to get into the game knowing Charni has him covered.

United will pay special attention to Jordy Mayifuila Hiwula (6 goals in 6 games). Hiwula is one of many in City’s squad to have represented England at various levels. After last week’s experiences one or two of United’s defence will be looking to rectify their disappointing performance and Hiwula could find himself up against a very determined back line.

If the defence concentrates and cuts out simple mistakes then United will look to the exceptional talents of Rothwell and Lawrence for attacking flair and inspiration. There’s no reason these two, with the help of Barmby, van Velzen and Daehli can’t create enough opportunities to win the game.

Kickoff is 11:00am at Carrington tomorrow, live coverage starts on MUTV at 10:45. I won’t be supplying my usual Twitter updates but here’s a few people who will be:

@mr_mujac @ManUnitedYouth @manutdreserves

Predicted Lineup: Jacob/Hendrie, McCullough, Dalley, Blackett/Ekangamene, Rothwell/Barmby Lawrence, van Velzen/Byrne

Subs: Pearson, Coll, Daehli, Rudge, Gorre

Prediction: 2-1

Thanks to AndrewΒ from for the City info.




  1. Grognard

    30 September 2011 at 19:30

    This season’s move towards youth has taught me a lesson to pay closer attention to what is going on with the reserves. Nice article Ian. Sometimes I wished I could spend time studying their development the way I used to scout baseball talent in the minor leagues of baseball with a friend of mine who is a real expert on that stuff. Now that I know United is taking their youth seriously and are not just wasting them only to loan or sell the lot, it is more important for all of us to know who the next Cleverley and Smalling is going to be. United vs City at any level is something I wished I could see. We used to get some games when Setanta Canada used to get a few MUTV feeds. But lately, there has been nothing.

  2. Rimmerstweets

    30 September 2011 at 21:23

    Thanks. I’ll ask someone to put the stream links up here tomorrow.

    Highlights of Blackburn last week below. Write off the poor defending……that won’t happen again, look out for the obvious two goals/scorers but also Ben Pearson. He came on for 35mins and looks really composed. He’s tiny but fair play, even coming off the bench into a game where tackles had been going in hard, he wasn’t intimidated at all. A great sign at that age. Keep an eye on the keeper too, I think he had a fairly good game all things considered.

    • Grognard

      30 September 2011 at 22:04

      Thanks for the link. I’ll check it out a bit later.

  3. [OPTI]Madschester United

    1 October 2011 at 04:55

    MUST pokes fun at City
    πŸ˜† πŸ˜† πŸ˜†

  4. Jay wire

    1 October 2011 at 07:49

    Ian, MUTV was discontinued from my side as well. I used to watch the Academy and Reserves, especially when Ole was around. That’s when I first saw Pogba,who was so impressive. Macheda and Petrucci had a great understanding. Now it’s strictly the first team. But your updates are a great help. At least when I see them in the Carling Cup, I’ll have a bit of a sketchy background. I haven’t seen anything on the Reserves though. Do you report on them as well? Doesn’t look as though we’re doing well in terms of results though. But at this level in my opinion, results don’t matter. Development should be the absolute priority. In your own opinion, is there any progress being made from a technical point of view with these youngsters? Particularly with the progression path from Academy to Reserves to First Team.

    • Rimmerstweets

      1 October 2011 at 20:47

      I only watch the reserves when I get the chance but only on MUTV, I rarely get down to Altrincham to watch them in the flesh like I do with the U18s. I’d like to watch them more often but you can’t do everything. πŸ™

      If you want I can ask someone who does report on them if I can use his articles and get them up on here, but only if there’s some interest.

      Regarding the technical progression I personally thinks it’s a difficult one. I honestly believe that by 18 these kids/young men are more or less as technically taught as they’re ever going to be because they’ve been getting taught by United’s great coaches for years. After that it’s all about tactics and fine tuning the way they use their technical knowledge. Remember, the technical side of coaching teaches a player ‘How To’, once you know how to…’s all about the skill of decision making and when to put what they know/can do into practice. That is generally only improved by playing games at a higher level than you’ve already mastered.

      Therefore, when people like myself were saying that Ravel Morrison was ready for the step up half way through last season, it’s because he was dominating games and looked almost bored of U18s Academy level.

      Look at Tom Cleverley, he went on loan and shone in a mediocre Wigan team, that proves he can play at that level therefore he’s drafted back into United and given his chance. He proved there, and also at Watford, that every level he steps up to he too can step up and do the job.

      The Reserves is a funny old place and (statistically) the more you play in it, the less chance you have of becoming a first team regular.

      It’s fair to say that this season’s U18s don’t have as many gifted players a last season’s but, looking back to the start of last season then there definitely wasn’t as many talented players as there were at the end of the season (no one would’ve predicted the rise of Larnell Cole), they progressed and developed into superb players over the 9 months. A 2nd year scholars final year is vital, and they must show they’re beyond that level by the end of the season to stand a chance. 1st years on the other hand, know they have a second crack at it next year.

      It’s a bit premature to suggest the same could happen this season but Lawrence and Blackett are showing real potential (deifinitely assisted by their experiences last season). van Velzen is somehow amongst the goals this season despite drifting in and mostly out of games. McCullough missed a huge chunk of last season but is already showing that he’s capable, he just needs to cut out over-playing the ball out of defence.

      Last season the majority of players where ‘senior’ 2nd year scholars and a smattering of 1st years. This season it’s the opposite, therefore you can expect next season’s academy to be much better than this……….if that doesn’t highlight the importance of experience and physique then nothing will.

      Points and league positions (in a league where there’s no relegation) don’t matter as much as gathering experience and learning. You’ll often see players played out of position by McGuiness (van Velzen LB occasionally).

      Luke Hendrie isn’t a RB but he’s played there all season so far. He’s really a midfielder but probably because he’s not technically good enough to play at this level as a CM (passing’s a bit weak) and also because the formation/style of play doesn’t accommodate a RM, McGuiness opted to make Luke his RB because there wasn’t anyone else. And if you ask me he’s making a good stick of it so far but being found out at least once a game. Despite that you can be sure he’s developing and by the end of the season you might just have a RB, who knows? Even if you haven’t…….there’s definitely a better RB ready to start next season as Luke’s one of the 1st year scholars……obviously that allows the manager to concentrate on filling other positions next year because Luke will have a year under his belt.

      It’s a constantly evolving group of players over years. Not weeks, not months…’s a long term plan. πŸ™‚ It’s great to watch and I learn so much myself just watching the games, I wish more people would see it as a production laboratory more than a finished goods showroom. The sooner they do that, the sooner they’ll appreciate it for what it is.

      * On that note, as an example of some of the morons who watch the games *

      Last season at Carrington v City (won 6-1), a couple of lads were on the sidelines and every time the ball came near them they were shouting ‘FOOKIN SNAP HIM!’……..yeah nice one lads.

      πŸ‘Ώ 😑

  5. Jay wire

    1 October 2011 at 08:11

    I’ve always maintained this: Manchester City are one big and very expensive joke. Every season, people are panicking. They’ve got so and so. We’re doomed. I don’t care if they get 5 of Barca’s best and 6 of Madrid’s best, they’ll always be a blockbuster joke. Even Dzeko was having an extended go at his manager for being subbed. They have no respect for the manager, who himself is a poor manager and was fortunate that Calciopoli occured in Italy and he won a series of Scudettos. Selling Tevez is going to be a nightmare. Ha ha ha. Who has the last laugh now? Already they’re struggling in the Champions League, yet Mancini was declaring that his team is better than Barcelona in August. Those guys are clearly beside themselves.

    • Stephen

      1 October 2011 at 08:47

      I still think City area massive threat, you caanot spend the sort of money on the talent they have and write them off as a joke. Mancini is doing the best he can with the players and ego’s he has to deal with and in fairness he is doing pretty well. Yes they will always be our noisey neihbours but they are a very decent side, with more money than sense.

  6. Rimmerstweets

    1 October 2011 at 11:11

    10 minutes in, not sure of score but here’s a link to stream

  7. Jay wire

    1 October 2011 at 11:14

    @ Stephen(from the last)- Yes I am an Anderson fan. And more power to me. But it wasn’t really about Anderson. It was about the general failure of our technical team that I was expressing through him. That’s why I mentioned the likes of Giggs as examples, to give a mirror. I’m not sure what games you were watching at the start of the season, but even the people who criticize him at twice the level you do, were highly complimentary right up to the Bolton game. Even neutral journalists. You were quiet back then. I did criticize him on the areas that he should take the blame and did not just blame the coaches and tactics. But I choose to take a more holistic approach.

    This however, is definitely about Anderson. You have continuously used his goal record as evidence that he is not an attacking midfielder. Okay, let’s do this. Let’s look at Ronaldo’s goal record from 2003-2006. It doesn’t look impressive for a player who currently AVERAGES 50 goals a season. Why the dramatic change from 2007? There are many reasons but if I were to take your “end of” approach I’d have written him off as a real goal option a long time ago. When you analyse deeper, you’ll realise things like roles, his own technical weaknesses. I mean he would shoot so many times in a match that Ruud had to leave. Rooney and even Quaresma were viewed as better potential. Does that paint the picture we see today? Look at Messi’s goal record up to 2007. Does it reflect the player we see today?

    Then with Anderson. He has been played as an attacking mid yes. But how many times? Also, have you ever considered United’s way of playing? Our goal getters have always been primarily the forwards and wingers. For it to be more evenly spread out, we need to play more of total football which we don’t. In fact the player who has really played attacking mid proper in recent times was Giggs in 2006-07. His goal record wasn’t that impressive by your standards. Consider also that of those 6 goals you mention,4 were scored last season,1 this season already. Yet it took 3 years to score his first. So if he is to score 6 this season, would it change your mind? And it’s not even far from reality.

    Your general criterion for assessing attacking midfielders is a bit off as well, with all due respect. A quick check of the world’s best attacking midfielder Iniesta’s goal record will show that. Check David Silva’s as well for good reference.

    Also, we don’t play central attacking midfielders proper, even when we play 3 or 5 in the middle. We play more like Spurs. Modric is not an attacking midfielder proper, and his play mirrors Anderson’s. More an attack minded box to box midfielder. CAMs like Kaka,play 90% attack,almost always in the attacking third. The Oezil-Iniesta types play more the link and slightly deeper, relying on their clever passing. But in all those cases, they always have deeper, more disciplined players behind them. Normally 2. And almost always, one is a holding midfielder.

    But United and to some extent, Spurs, normally play 2 in the centre, meaning it’s even more critical to play one as a dedicated defensive screen for there to be balance. Modric had his best season last term. Look at his goal record last season and compare with Anderson’s. You’ll see similarities. But then also consider that Anderson had a more broken appearances sequence.

    The problem this season in recent games, has been the shift away from the holding midfielder and box to box partnership to the two man box to box combination which is just a disaster waiting to happen. Last season against Blackburn Carrick(holding) and Anderson(box to box) combined seamlessly with the latter devastating in the middle, whilst the former was so invisible, cleaning up, thinking and recycling possession. The same thing against Bolton this season. So if they’re combined like that consistently and Anderson consistently plays below acceptable standards, I’ll be the first to gobble the proverbial pie ahead of Eddy.

    • RedDevilEddy

      1 October 2011 at 12:27

      No fucking way man, you know I love Ando more than anyone! Even his mom! πŸ˜† πŸ˜†

  8. Jay wire

    1 October 2011 at 11:24

    @Stephen- “you cannot spend the sort of money they have on that talent and write them off a joke.”

    Actually that’s exactly why they’re a joke

  9. Rimmerstweets

    1 October 2011 at 11:29

    Hiwula puts City 1 up after 27minutes

  10. colver

    1 October 2011 at 11:34

    Jay Wire you are right. Two box to box midfielders is the early 90s Manchester United and it worked like a dream with Anderson and Cleverley. But it does not work with any other combination which is why with the re-introduction of Carrick and Fletcher to the team our midfield has been struggling.

    Even then neither Carrick nor Fletcher is a perfect holding midfielder. Both are more hybrids. But I agree Carrick defending and Anderson attacking is the best choice we have while Cleverley is out and should prove adequate against most teams. Against Barcelona and Real Madrid and probably Bayern all we can do is load a three man midfield and hope for the best.

    Some good news from Rooney though

    He claims that the difference this season is we are pressing. Well until recently!

  11. Rimmerstweets

    1 October 2011 at 11:40

    2-1 City.

  12. Rimmerstweets

    1 October 2011 at 11:48

    HT 1-2

  13. colver

    1 October 2011 at 11:48

    It is disrespectful to treat Manchester City as a joke. They are genuine competition. We should not be so high and mighty to dismiss them because of their spending. By that logic half the Premier League could dismiss us.

    I don’t like the club but they have amassed some very good players such as David Silva, Samir Nasri, Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure all of whom would walk into the Manchester United team.

    We actually have some genuine competition. Last year I was a bit embarassed to win the Premiership as we really did not play like a title winning team for much of the season especially away from home. But to pip Manchester City to the post and win our 20th league title would be truly impressive. I am glad City are around. It feels good that Manchester is the centre of British football and so juicy that our derby games will now be title deciders.

  14. RedDevilEddy

    1 October 2011 at 12:29

    If Manchester City didn’t exist, we would make them up just so we would have someone to laugh at.

  15. craig Mc

    1 October 2011 at 13:04

    Feck me – who are these United academy players – they are inferior to so many other teams playing academy football. We are supposed to have the elite young players – in past several years we have, but I have to confess I see hardly any promising ones shining out of this present academy team. When has a United academy team been 8th/9th place in their division? I wouldn’t mind if they looked as though they wanted to win – but they seem to lack fight and appetite when they go down – and YES I do watch them every week! Not impressed with this academy team really – very un-Fergielike.

    • Rimmerstweets

      1 October 2011 at 13:10

      Game finished 1-3 to City. Dubious penalty killed United off in the second half apparently.

      Course finished, back home. Bet on, now it’s time for a bike ride in this wicked sunshine!! jeeez it’s hotter than the sun in Manchester today! πŸ™‚

      JayWire: I haven’t had time to reply but I will later.

      and Craig……give them a chance mate…..last years team finished 6th in the league and won the youth cup. Now people rave about their chances……have faith mate, yes they’re a little bit short in areas but that’s where we get to see the progress and see who steps up, it’s a big jump u16s to u18s and most of these lads have done that, not many played u18s last season. Plus there’s loads of reason why United rarely finish top in their group….

      1. International duty
      2. They place more onus on progress/development than they do on results.
      3. Players are tried in unfamiliar positions



      HAVE FAITH! πŸ˜€

      Now then…….where did I leave that bike! lol

      • craig Mc

        1 October 2011 at 13:56

        Whatever you say boss πŸ˜†

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