Man Utd 4-0 Man City: Under-21s Match Report

I’m not a regular at United under-21 games, and haven’t watched them play since the home games were at Moss Lane in Altrincham, so it was quite surreal walking down Sir Matt Busby Way approaching 7pm on a Tuesday night; a decent crowd gathering whilst confused motorists found themselves in an unexpected jam. Even the scarf-sellers were out in force, and the eventual attendance on the night was a rather incredible 16,701 – nearly 5,000 more than you’ll see at a sold-out Bournemouth home game for the newly-promoted Cherries next season!

The stewards and staff at the ground clearly weren’t prepared for such numbers, and with seating quickly clogging up, we still hadn’t found somewhere to perch when Wilson scored the opening goal early in the first half.

Vieira was vocal in his protest to the referee’s assistant, convinced Wilson was offside, but in reality City’s under-21s never looked like causing problems for United, and despite an uneventful first half, it felt like only a matter of time before our superior quality shone through.

The assist for the first goal came from Januzaj, who seemed to be expending little effort yet was clearly a class above everyone else on the pitch. 10 minutes after the restart, Januzaj received the ball from the impressive Rothwell on the left, cut inside, went past two City players, and tucked a nice finish into the bottom right corner.

Although Van Gaal wasn’t in attendance, on this evidence, the boss would surely be considering how to make the most of Januzaj’s obvious talent next season and beyond. Unfortunately, Adnan was taken off 15 minutes from time and headed straight down the tunnel, seemingly with an injury, making him a doubt for the Arsenal game on Sunday. Hopefully we’ll start seeing more of our number 11 though – he hasn’t started for the first team since 11th Feb; fans are rightly eager to see him given more game time, and hopeful that the Memphis Depay signing doesn’t jeapordise his chances of establishing his place.

As for the other goals, there was a quickfire double from our two subs – Ashley Fletcher and Matthew Willock, both very well-taken goals, particularly the last one of the night…

Other than the goalscorers, I was impressed with Joel Pereira in goal, who came off his line well a couple of times to nullify City attacks, and Donald Love at centre back, who looked completely calm and composed throughout. Rothwell also looks like a potential future first-teamer, and will no doubt be hoping he’s in the squad for the final Premier League game against Hull.

The evening was also notable for a brief bit of crowd trouble when a few fans in the East Stand overspill area clashed with City’s away support, apparently reacting to Munich chants, but the minimal steward presence managed to get things back under control. Whilst there was a total absence of police before kick-off, the riot vans were waiting when we left the ground after the final whistle. Oh, and there was also a brief pitch invasion, contributing to the slightly non-league vibe as the game approached its conclusion.

Overall, though, it was a great night. Seeing 17,000 fans turn out for a reserves game on a Tuesday night was a reminder of how great our local support really is, and now we’re just 1 point away from winning the Professional Development League; our last game is also against City’s so-called ‘elite’ youngsters. The Blues are still a very long way from having an academy setup to rival ours, and I look forward to watching the under-21s more regularly in 2015/16.

Finally… don’t miss our retro t-shirt giveaway in partnership with Campo Retro! Entries close at midnight on Sunday.