Alejandro Garnacho enjoyed a special day for Manchester United’s under-18 side at the weekend.
The Spaniard netted a hat-trick in a 6-1 win over Stoke, a result which took United clear at the top of the table in first place.
While an important moment for Garnacho in his season, the game was also a significant one for teammate Charlie McNeill.
McNeill assisted all three of Garnacho’s goals, laying each of them on a plate for the quick-thinking Spaniard to nip in and score from close range.
They were poachers’ strikes, with Garnacho taking advantage of McNeill’s selflessness and creativity.
Grabbed a goal too
McNeill actually missed a close range sitter himself in the second half, when it looked easier to score. He made up for it less than two minutes later by getting onto the scoresheet with a harder finish.
This was his 17th goal of the season, overtaking teammate Joe Hugill’s tally of 16 academy goals for the season – although many of his come for the under-23s.
McNeill has 16 in the league and one in the Youth Cup. But until a fortnight ago he did not have a single assist to his name.
This changed with a superb reverse pass against Everton in a 2-0 win last time out, setting up Omari Forson for the opener.
Now after a hat-trick of assists against Stoke, 17-year-old McNeill showed he is plenty more than just a goalscorer.
The point of playing academy football is to improve as a player, not just score as many goals as possible. It is important for McNeill to develop his game, and forge links with teammates.
He showed he is striking up a connection with Garnacho, who now has six goals for the season himself after his contribution. With 23 goals combined, this could be a partnership to watch in the future.
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