United Youth

Manchester United Reserves & Academy News

Youngsters steal the show as Sir Alex gets one over on Ferguson Jnr

Posted by nickogs20 on August 5, 2008

The United side named to face Peterborough at London Road last night included international stars and household names Rio Ferdinand, Carlos Tévez, Nani, Patrice Evra and Wes Brown, and yet it was a number of players whom the majority of spectators would have been much less familiar with that caught the eye and earned the plaudits in the Reds’ 2-0 win.

Darren Ferguson’s Peterborough side arguably shaded the first-half against his father’s United eleven, striker Aaron McLean in particular giving Ferdinand and Brown a real test while the Posh back four held firm against the threat posed by the ever-lively Tévez. One player in a red shirt did stand out though – right-back Rafael da Silva. The 18-year old was available for selection for the first time after being granted international clearance to play, and Sir Alex duly handed the Brazilian a debut from the start.

Rafael and his twin brother Fábio had barely played any football over the past 12 months but that was far from evident in the former’s first-half display. Rafael got forward to terrific effect, showing a great turn of speed and no small amount of skill while linking well with David Gray and Tévez on the right hand side. Defensively there were signs that his attacking instincts might lead to him occasionally being caught out of position, but he also showed an encouraging willingness to compete in the air and get stuck into tackles.

After Russell Martin’s unfortunate own goal gave United the lead just before half-time, Rafael was joined by his brother and a number of other youngsters for the second half as Sir Alex made several changes. Fábio, Jonny Evans, Craig Cathcart, Tom Cleverley and Lee Martin entered the fray after the interval, and as the game wore on they were joined by Rodrigo Possebon, Ron-Robert Zieler and Darron Gibson to give the eleven an average age of just 19.8 for the last twenty minutes or so.

Gibson marked his entrance in spectacular fashion, netting United’s second goal within 60 seconds of stepping onto the field with a stunning strike. The Irishman’s first touch of the game saw him neatly bring the ball under control with his right foot before his second saw him dispatch a left-footed half-volley from fully 30 yards into the top corner. “We’ve been saying to him all summer, with the power he’s got, he should be striking more,” Sir Alex said after the game. “The evidence is there for you now. He has fantastic feet.

Rodrigo also went close with a couple of long-range efforts and once again impressed with his intelligent use of the football and willingness to join the attack, while Tom Cleverley put in a typically busy and committed performance. The all-Ulster centre-back pairing of Evans and Cathcart dealt comfortably with Peterborough’s attacking threat, while at left-back Fábio didn’t quite match the impact of his brother but showed glimpses of promise, one jet-heeled burst into the area almost resulting in a debut goal. Sir Alex was glowing in his praise for the Brazilian duo after the match:

“The young players were fantastic and young Rafael the right-back was a sensation for me.

I thought it was a real eye opener for us. He hadn’t played for a year but he’s played a full 90 minutes today. His brother Fabio has played 45 minutes and he’s also done well so we’re really pleased by their contribution.

You know what football’s like. Sometimes it turns up some star, some little nugget maybe. On the evidence of tonight I think we have got a good player here.”

The first-team take on Juventus tomorrow in their final pre-season friendly, and while the likes of Edwin van der Sar, Gary Neville, Nemanja Vidic, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs will be added to the squad, a number of the young players involved last night are likely to be involved again.

1 Tomasz Kuszczak (13 Ron-Robert Zieler ’67)
2 John O’Shea
3 Patrice Evra (18 Fábio da Silva ’46)
5 Rio Ferdinand (c) (4 Jonny Evans ’46)
6 Wes Brown (12 Craig Cathcart ’46)
7 Darren Fletcher (8 Darron Gibson ’67)
9 Fraizer Campbell (14 Tom Cleverley ’46)
10 Carlos Tévez (11 Lee Martin ’46)
16 David Gray
17 Nani (15 Rodrigo Possebon ’58)
19 Rafael da Silva


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