United Youth

Manchester United Reserves & Academy News

MUPC Days 3 & 4: Reds finish a creditable sixth

Posted by nickogs20 on August 9, 2008

Tournament favourites Fluminense proved too strong for the United U15s in the quarter-finals, but the young Reds rallied to earn sixth place and praise from many.

The U15’s reward for two wins and two draws in a really competitive group was to be drawn with Fluminense of Brazil. The Rio de Janeiro side have an outstanding recent record in youth football tournaments, and it was in this competition three years ago that stars of the moment Fábio and Rafael da Silva were spotted by United scouts while representing Flu. United were always up against it and although they battled valiantly, they eventually went down 2-0 to the South Americans.

Team vs Fluminense: Johnstone, Gnahore (M Keane), Blackett, Thorpe, Mellor, Cole, Sutherland, Morrison, Ramm (Gomes), Cofie, W Keane.
Unused subs: Ward, Lawrence, Giverin

That defeat ended United’s hopes of lifting the Premier Cup but was not the end of their participation in the finals. The four losing quarter-finalists would now play-off to decide the placings from fifth to eighth, and the Reds faced a clash with Italian giants Juventus to earn a place in the 5th/6th playoff. That draw could have proved daunting but the United kids proceeded to put in their best performance of the week, hammering the Turin side 4-1 with forward Ravel Morrison bagging an impressive hattrick.

Team vs Juventus: Ward, M Keane, Giverin, Thorpe, Blackett, Ramm, Lawrence, Morrison, Gnahore, Gomes, W Keane
Unused subs: Johnstone, Mellor, Cole, Cofie, Sutherland
Scorers: Morrison 3 (1 pen), W Keane

That impressive victory gave the Reds the chance to secure 5th spot in the tournament, but standing in their way were Right To Dream, an African academy set up by Tom Vernon, who also happens to be a scout in that continent for MUFC. Mark Dempsey’s young United side put in another strong showing but were ultimately overwhelmed by more physically imposing opposition, going down 2-0 and having to settle for sixth place overall.

Team vs Right To Dream: Johnstone, M Keane, Giverin, Thorpe, Mellor, Ramm, Sutherland (Cole), Morrison, Gnahore, Gomes (Lawrence), W Keane
Unused subs: Ward, Blackett, Cofie

United’s quarter-final conquerors Fluminense unsurprisingly won through to the final, where they and Mexico’s FC Atlas faced off in front of thousands of fans at Old Trafford in the build-up to United’s first-team friendly against Juventus on Wednesday evening. The Brazilians well and truly lived up to their billing as tournament favourites, beating FC Atlas more convincingly than the 2-0 final scoreline suggested. Their star striker de Silva picked up the Player of the Tournament and Golden Boot prizes.

While it may have been Fluminense who caught the eye, the performance of United’s youngsters didn’t go unnoticed. Sir Alex Ferguson praised the quality of the football in the tournament as a whole and claimed that the United kids will have learnt more in their seven matches against varying styles of opposition than they will do in any number of academy games (which he described as ‘humdrum’ and unexciting). United’s Academy Director Brian McClair said “We drew with Real Madrid, drew with Paris St-Germain and have players who could play in the Fluminense team. They’re not better than our best players. They just have more of them”, while the Telegraph’s reknowned football writer Henry Winter stated that “there could be no doubting the potential of some of the English ball-players in the United team, particularly in central midfield during a 4-1 thrashing of Juventus”.

Full results, photos and news from the MUPC can be found at the tournament’s official site.

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