Manchester United’s under-23 season wrapped up last month. It was a challenging campaign which saw the young team rise to the challenge.
As many as 13 different players scored goals while 19 provided assists. We are taking a moment now to look back on the seven players who stood out the most.
Unsurprisingly most of the players are attackers, after United ended up with the second worst defensive record in the league. The team offset this by being the second highest scorers.
We have not included Amad despite his tremendous under-23 record of three goals and four assists in three games, simply on the basis that he did not play enough. In terms of impact, he would be at number one. Now to the rest…
Hannibal’s season at times showcased his individual brilliance and there were also moments of real frustration. He ended up with two red cards along the way.
What Hannibal always gave was maximum effort, as he learned new positions with United playing him in a wide role, as well as centrally.
The Tunisia international ended up with a team high seven assists, also scoring four goals. Hannibal was often at the heart of United’s best attacking play and it was no surprise to see him make his first team debut at the end of the season.
United made a bold move by throwing Shola Shoretire into the under-23s at just 16. While he took a few games to settle in, he proved the coaches right.
Shoretire ended the season as United’s joint second highest goalscorer, with 10 goals. He also finished with just one fewer assist than Hannibal, with six.
Another season at this level will help him, and it looks like United have a special talent on the books.
At times Anthony Elanga was electric and opponents struggled to contain him. The Swede finished the season as United’s top goalscorer with 11 goals.
This feat was even more impressive considering he missed nearly three months of the season with a collarbone injury.
Elanga returned from this injury with real determination to make an impact and this led to him playing for the first team and netting on the final day against Wolves.
Young strike Joe Hugill showed he could be a star of the future with the way he quickly settled in at under-23 level.
At just 16 he was promoted to lead the line after impressive performances for the under-18s. Hugill, now 17, had an effective campaign, scoring 10 times for the 23s.
While he ran out of steam a little towards the end and saw his season cut short by injury, this was a fantastic way for Hugill to introduce himself after his summer switch from Sunderland. Four goals against Liverpool was a real highlight.
This season did not lead to the first team breakthrough Ethan Galbraith may have hoped for but it did see him step out of James Garner and Dylan Levitt’s shadow.
At times it wasn’t easy, with Galbraith asked to drop back into central defence, and injury and suspension also cost him game time.
One thing was clear, that United were a better team when Galbraith was playing, as opposed to when he was missing.
While Arnau Puigmal has quit the club to leave on a free transfer, it is only right to acknowledge his performances.
In the first half of the season he was arguably one of United’s top two players along with Elanga.
Puigmal scored seven goals and provided three assists from 12 matches from midfield. His departure is a shame but we wish him well.
Alvaro Fernandez looks to be a real find following his move from Real Madrid.
Fernandez stepped up after impressing for the under-18s. He was offered a strong attacking threat from left-back, providing five assists.
While he still has progress to make defensively, Fernandez, 18, is a bright prospect who United should have high hopes for.
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