Three months into the season it is time to check in on how some of Manchester United’s loan players are getting on.
One of the players who has had an eventful start is young goalkeeper Joel Pereira. He’s on track.
Pereira had two uneventful loan spells last season in Portugal and Belgium and is hoping to catch the eye and show progress in a similar way to Dean Henderson last season at Sheffield United.
The 23-year-old had a solid showing for United in pre-season, before clinching a move to Hearts.
Pereira has established himself as a regular for the Scottish Premiership side. He has played 11 games so far, but has only been able to keep two clean sheets.
Here is a look at some of the notable moments from his spell at Tynecastle to date…
Busy debut and cup run
Pereira signed with Hearts on August 13 and three days later made his debut in a wet and windy Friday night fixture in the cup against Motherwell.
He performed well and helped his new side to a 2-1 win.
Pereira played a big part in Hearts reaching the Scottish League Cup semi-final.
On the same night Manchester United edged past Rochdale in the English League Cup, Pereira was also a penalty shootout hero.
He made crucial saves to help Hearts to a 5-2 spot-kicks upset win over Aberdeen.
The semi-final against Rangers was a tougher test and Pereira was on the losing side, with his team outclassed and beaten 3-0.
Just to play in a match of that scale so soon into the season was great experience for the loanee.
Pereira’s case is not helped by playing for one of the worst teams in the Scottish Premiership.
Despite their cup run, Hearts sit in 8th of 12 teams and they are just three points off the bottom.
They have won just two of 12 matches so far, but to Pereira’s credit, Hearts have one of the better defensive records, conceding only 17 goals. By comparison Ross County are two places above them and have let in 28.
The big chance for Pereira to catch the eye is in matches against Celtic and Rangers. He has not quite done that just yet.
In three matches against the Old Firm, Pereira has lost two, and managed to draw one, a 1-1 against Rangers in the league.
Already his 11 appearances has bettered the 10 he made for each of Vitoria Setubal and Kortrijk last season. He’s on track to put together the first full season in his career at senior level.
Ben Banks of Scottish football website Not The Old Firm believes Pereira has made a positive start but there are areas of his game which require work.
He told us: “Pereira is undoubtedly Hearts’ number one now, playing in every match he has been available for so far. With news that second choice Colin Doyle is out until 2020 now too, that looks likely to remain the case for this season.
“Anytime I’ve seen him Pereira has been solid, if a little unspectacular. His commanding of the box is good and his reflexes looked particularly sharp in the League Cup semi-final against Rangers.
“His distribution could do with a bit of tidying up and his handling has been questionable on a couple of occasions but overall he’s managed to do a job.”
He has got a fan
Pereira posted a video of a couple of his more eye-catching saves to his Instagram page at the weekend.
He received a message of encouragement from on-off United transfer target Bruno Fernandes, who he knows from the Portugal under-21 set up.
Best case scenario
Pereira plays in one of the most intensely competitive positions at Manchester United.
David de Gea’s new contract blocks his path to the first team, so what is the best case scenario for him?
Well one obstacle will be removed when Lee Grant is released at the end of the season.
Pereira really needs United to push Sergio Romero towards the exit door as back-up and to give him a chance to be the club’s number two.
Dean Henderson is now ahead in the pecking order, but it is fair to suggest he won’t want to be a deputy after starring for Sheffield United this season.
Another loan could be likely for Henderson, either to the Blades or as a next step, to a European side playing in the Champions League for him to gain vital experience.
This combined with a possible Romero departure could give Pereira the chance he needs, otherwise he could be looking at another loan himself once again.
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