Progression is key for Manchester United as the club made a number of interesting selection decisions at academy level this weekend.
Despite the under-18s struggling with injuries and sitting top of the league, United pushed two of the teams’ dangerous attackers up to under-23 level.
Both Dillon Hoogewerf and Noam Emeran stepped up to make the bench in United’s under-23 game at Southampton and both came on.
The knock-on effect was a defeat for the under-18s against Derby, but more young talent was pushed. A number of under-16s featured, including a debut for 14-year-old Finley McAllister, a name to watch for the future.
This was Hoogewerf’s third appearance of the season for the under-23s, all three coming from the bench. He has had a mixed season for the under-18s, scoring four goals and providing four assists, often being overshadowed by Charlie Hugill.
Hoogewerf, a 2019 summer signing from Ajax, had impressed in United’s previous under-23 game against Everton last Monday, having a ferocious shot tipped onto the woodwork.
He contributed to United’s comeback win against the Saints, a game in which Charlie McCann netted two late goals in a 2-1 victory.
Hoogewerf provided his first assist at under-23 level, creating United’s winner.
The Dutchman picked the ball up inside his own half, ran forward before cutting back and playing a forward ball into Charlie McCann’s path on the left of the penalty area for United’s number eight to score a 87th minute winner.
Emeran steps up too
The game saw tricky French winger Noam Emeran make his debut for the under-23s.
Emeran played a part in United’s equalising goal, retaining possession of the ball under challenges on the left wing, before turning, passing the ball inside allowing United to switch to the right, before a cross from Will Fish found Charlie McCann inside the area, who did well to score under pressure.
Emeran’s first season at United was hit by injuries and this season he has started to show what he is capable of.
He has three goals and five assists at under-18s level, and now 18, his push to under-23 level was inevitable, especially with Anthony Elanga out with injury.
Both Hoogewerf and Emeran are just dipping their toes into action at under-23 level due to injuries and could play out the season with the under-18s.
Next season both players will be asked to make the step up, and this experience will be valuable for them.
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