The first half of the season went really well for Manchester United’s under-23s.
United have won 13 of 16 league games, scoring 42 goals in the process, losing only twice.
The problem has been West Ham. The young Hammers are top by two points, unbeaten so far this season.
Only one team earns automatic promotion into the top under-23 tier.
After that the teams ranked second to fifth go into a play-off format. That would currently mean Middlesbrough would get in, despite sitting on just 23 points to United’s 40.
Transfer activity benefits United
Considering West Ham’s position, they have taken a bit of a risk with their January activity.
They sent Nathan Holland out on loan to Oxford, and sold Anthony Scully to Lincoln.
Scully had 12 goals in 14 games this season plus five assists, while Holland has 12 goals and six assists in 13 matches.
United meanwhile kept hold of the majority of the under-23s, and have been boosted by the return of Aidan Barlow from Tromso, who scored in his return to earn a victory against Norwich on January 31.
The likes of Dylan Levitt and Ethan Laird might have benefitted from loan spells, but they can offer a lot to United by staying.
If it came down the play-offs, United would still be favourites, but the personnel changes at West Ham gives our young team an advantage.
The under-23s are back in action on Friday night at home to Swansea City.
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