Neil Wood says Alvaro Fernandez has been 'outstanding' on loan at Preston

Neil Wood, who was the Manchester United Under 23 manager last season, has hailed Alejandro Garnacho and Alvaro Fernandez.

Garnacho started his first senior game of the season for United in the 3-0 win over Sheriff in the Europa League on Thursday night.

Fernandez is spending the season out on loan with Preston North End in the Championship, getting exposure to regular men’s football.

In an interview with the Athletic, Wood, who is now manager of Salford City in League 2, hailed the teenage talents.

Photo by Stephen White – CameraSport via Getty Images

Wood on Fernandez and Garnacho

He said: “I’ll watch United’s under-21s when I can. You never stop caring about or supporting them. You want to see these really good players and people do well.

“You have to say that James Garner moving to Everton is a success for United’s academy. Or Dylan Levitt doing well at Dundee United.

“Hannibal Mejbri is flourishing at Birmingham where the fans love his style of play. I’ve watched Alvaro at Preston and he’s been outstanding, he’s got a good future ahead of him.

“(Garnacho) has got good attacking flair and there’s real potential there. He has talent, can score individual goals and that he’s good at dribbling. There are areas he needs to improve – his passing, keeping the ball, protecting the ball, hiding the ball when he’s dribbling, being more productive with his end product, creating more assists.

“I don’t know if throwing him into the first team is the best thing to do. The standards are so high, you can’t be expected to turn it on immediately at Old Trafford, but expectations are high for young players. Too much too soon can damage a player’s development.”

Garnacho and Fernandez are taking different approaches to their development this season.

The winger is staying at Old Trafford to learn from the club’s elite players and that will result in some first team exposure, if not a lot.

Fernandez has gone somewhere he might play every week and getting experience of playing games where the three points are the most important thing.

As Wood eludes to, you have to get it right depending on the player and the stage they are at right now, and his comments might be worth bearing in mind if the clamour grows to see the Argentine on a more regular basis after his impressive midweek display.

Thoughts? Comment Below
Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.