Two of Manchester United’s young talents have had their loan spells cancelled by the club this month.
Both players had differing experiences in League One. Kovar actually played 19 matches, but found it tough going in goal for a team in 23rd place out of 24 teams by time he left. Swindon signed a new goalkeeper the day his loan was cancelled, an indication they were ready to move on. Levitt struggled for game time entirely.
Both players had high hopes
United were of the opinion both players needed a challenge beyond under-23 football. Kovar excelled in EFL Trophy matches last season, and United have always been proactive in sending out young goalkeepers on loan, to open up more spots for younger players to develop.
Levitt played in the Europa League for United last season, and has made his international debut for Wales. United took their time choosing a loan club for him, but it doesn’t always work. He played only five times for Charlton.
It is part of the process
Loans are so difficult to get right. For young players, this can be the first time experiencing the ‘real world’ away from the protective bubble inside an academy like United’s. It can be a shock to the system.
Criticism is very real, and players can rise to the challenge or get swept up by it. It is more uncommon than common for the loans to be unprecedented success stories.
Mental support now so important
United will hope to send both players out on loan and find fresh, more suitable clubs using the benefit of hindsight. With that in mind, Levitt and Kovar should be thankful to have a new opportunity and not to waste any more time at clubs who had given up on them.
Both players must not feel like they failed. Kovar sent an Instagram message out expressing his sadness he did not play to the level he believes he is capable of.
Levitt too will be anxious to succeed next time. After all, lingering in their minds will be concerns that if they cannot shine at League One level, how can they hope to make it at Old Trafford. But football is not always straightforward.
Jesse Lingard had loan spells at Leicester, Birmingham, Brighton and Derby before being deemed ready for the United first team. He went on to play in a World Cup semi-final.
This first loan is just one ‘swing and a miss’. United have to work with them psychologically to make sure they are in the right frame of mind, feeling positive and not crestfallen that the first loan did not work out.
United must only send the duo out if they are ready, mentally. The under-23 side could benefit from having them available, amid a tougher challenge this season in the top flight of PL2. There is plenty to play for if they stay, and one option is to can build up their confidence by doing so ahead of taking on a new loan next season.
But a new loan now could really be crucial. If they are able to find a new club, domestically and abroad, and go onto shine in the second half of the season, it would quickly wash away the bitterness of disappointing early loans.
United have work to do with both players to get them ready to head out again, and find good clubs with first team opportunities for them. 2021 could be the fresh start they both need, and they should each look on their recalls as a positive step, rather than a black mark against them.
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