Macheda and Petrucci make big impression on Solskjaer
Posted by nickogs20 on February 13, 2009
Reserve team manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been speaking about the impression United’s 17 year-old Italian duo Kiko Macheda and Davide Petrucci have made on the coaching staff at Carrington.
Macheda and Petrucci were added to the Reds’ 30-man Champions League squad at the start of the month, and have stepped up near-permanently from Paul McGuinness’ U18 setup into Solskjaer’s reserve side of late. In addition to that, the pair have been increasingly participating in first-team training sessions, all prompting comparisons with the path Danny Welbeck’s career has taken – the young Mancunian having progressed similarly last season.
Macheda has been in typically free-scoring form for the academy this season, and while the transition to regular reserve football has seen the flow of goals subside a little, Welbeck experienced similar problems when adapting last season – in both cases, the lack of an established and regular strike partner has hindered the young forwards. Nonetheless, Macheda has steadily improved and shown there is a lot more to his game than goals, never more so than in last week’s reserve victory over Bolton Wanderers.
Solskjaer told the Manchester Evening News:
“Macheda is a big talent. He has the ability and can score goals. It is not easy to leave your home country at 16 and come to a new culture. It takes time to settle down. But he signed pro in August last year and has buckled down and got a professional head on him. We expected him to make progress and he has. He is a big, young lad and has good technique and is quick.
“He scored goals for the Under-18s but unfortunately because we have struggled with forwards in the reserves he has had to play up front a lot on his own. But it is all a part of the learning curve for him. He is hungry to improve.
“You see him when he has come back from training sessions with the seniors and he wants more because he has learned so much. When you are in and around the likes of Dimitar Berbatov, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tévez you have to look, listen and learn. He’s picked up on things like movement. If you do that you cannot fail to make progress. Being with them tells him he is getting closer.”
Petrucci, the younger of the duo, joined United from Roma last summer, a year after his fellow Roman Macheda arrived from the Eternal City’s other big name, Lazio. Despite coming from the youth setups of those two rival clubs, the Italian pair have unsurprisingly clicked off the pitch, Macheda doubtless helping his compatriot settle in Manchester. That relationship has manifested itself on the pitch as well, the pair having linked up to great effect on numerous occasions this season. As Solskjaer says:
“Firstly it starts with an off-the-field friendship. Obviously both coming from Rome they are drawn to each other anyway but on the field they have hit it off as well. They have created a great understanding.
Petrucci took time to show the immense promise that prompted United to swoop for him last summer (and that left Roma so angry to see him leave), but now seems to be at the heart of the Reds’ best attacking play in every game he features in.
“Davide is a No.10 because he plays behind the striker and can also play in midfield. They bounce off each other and look for each other in matches. Sometimes partnerships like that just happen. Like Federico, Davide took his time to adapt. It takes six months to get used to United’s intense training. But he has found his feet.
“He is technically and tactically very gifted. He scores some great free kicks and goals. He scores the kind of goals you would put on a DVD because he is capable of the spectacular.
So what next for the duo? A hectic reserve fixture schedule promises plenty of football for the pair between now and May, and while they are unlikely to feature at first-team level unless injuries hit with a vengeance, the experience Welbeck doubtlessly gained when travelling and training with the squad on the road to Moscow last season will hopefully be replicated with the young Italians as United bid to reach the Champions League final once again, this time – somewhat appropriately – in Rome.
Final word to OGS, who should know a thing or two about quality forward play:
“They’ve worked hard, listened and learned and we rate these lads. They have learned the Manchester United way and got a very good education. It is exciting times for them and this is confirmation of the progress they have made. It is a sign we believe in them and now you are asking the question of them, can they make the next level?”
“It is great this chance they are getting to witness and take part in first-team training and be involved on European trips because not only does it hopefully motivate them but it will inspire all the other young lads as well.
“They have all been told that age doesn’t matter at this club, it is all about performances, but seeing other youngsters getting this opportunity is more evidence of that.”