Manchester United’s most senior school age team was sent home for half a year during the lockdown but they now have the chance to make up for lost time.
The FA Youth Cup – one of the world’s most prestigious youth football tournaments – will be completed in a mini-tournament at St. George’s Park at the end of this week.
Led by Teden Mengi last season, United’s FA Youth Cup side was filled with talent. The team is a little different now. Mengi is a first team player. Others are key figures for the under-23s already.
But United have a wonderful opportunity to win a record 11th title. Their opponents in the semi-final, to be played on Friday night, are Chelsea; the nine-time winners of the competition who have ruthlessly destroyed all those who they’ve faced in the last decade – except United.
It was in December 2018 when a Greenwood hat-trick gave United a dramatic 4-3 win against Chelsea. It stopped Chelsea from winning a sixth-consecutive FA Youth Cup.
That was a stark contrast to a 2016 game when Chelsea hit five against United. The best player in red on that night was Marcus Rashford. For Chelsea, both Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham were involved.
How to watch Manchester United vs Chelsea in the FA Youth Cup
This time the semi-final will be played behind-closed-doors at St. George’s Park. It will be shown live on BT Sport 1 with kick-off at 7:45pm on Friday, October 30th.
If United can beat Chelsea on Friday, they’ll face either Blackburn Rovers or Manchester City in the final. That game will be played on Monday and will also be shown on BT Sport 1.
Which Manchester United players are in the FA Youth Cup squad?
It seems likely that the team captain Mengi will be unavailable as he’s training with the first team squad. However, it is possible that Mengi could travel separately from his teammates and play in the games. Marcos Rojo and Brandon Williams did exactly that in a recent under-23s game. However, he’ll probably be missing from the FA Youth Cup games.
United’s key players so far in the competition have been Mark Helm, Charlie McCann and Dillon Hoogewerf. The latter, a Dutch striker who joined from Feyenoord two years ago, scored three goals in three games.
That included the only goal of the game in United’s hard-fought 1-0 win against Leeds United. Hoogewerf picked up an injury in that game and missed the 2-1 quarter-final win against Wigan Athletic.
Helm and McCann, meanwhile, offered a solid defensive midfield partnership. In front of them played Hannibal Mejbri, given a free role by under-18s manager Neil Ryan.
Mejbri floats into space all across the front line and tries to influence the game from there. All three of those midfielders could return into the under-18s team for the final stages of the FA Youth Cup.
Will Fish is likely to lead the defence. Shola Shoretire and Omari Forson played a role in the initial stages of the Youth Cup and both should have a starting spot in the semi-final.
Why are United playing at St. George’s Park?
The idea was initially floated by Nicky Butt. At one point it looked like the FA Youth Cup wouldn’t be concluded. But thanks to hard work from all involved, it will happen. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for some of these players and so that is fantastic news.
Manchester United’s FA Youth Cup run: 2019/20
- United 2-0 Lincoln City
- United 2-0 Norwich
- United 1-0 Leeds United
- United 2-1 Wigan Athletic
Manchester United’s FA Youth Cup fixtures
Chelsea – Friday, October 20th – 7:45pm – BT Sport 1
Blackburn Rovers/Man City – Monday, November 2nd – 7:30pm – BT Sport 1
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