Garnacho and Mainoo became Man United’s new stars just two years after winning the FA Youth Cup. What other young talents does MU have?

Garnacho and Mainoo became Man United’s new stars just two years after winning the FA Youth Cup. What other young talents does MU have?


It was a magical Old Trafford night that reassured every Manchester United fan the club’s famous production line was still in working order.

Just over two years ago, 67,000 fans at Old Trafford witnessed United’s under-18 team lift the FA Youth Cup for the 11th time with a 3-1 win over Nottingham Forest.

An unpolished diamond from Argentina by the name of Alejandro Garnacho caught the eye and the imagination, scoring twice in the win, while a kid from Stockport called Kobbie Mainoo was a bundle of energy in midfield.

They’ve done pretty well for themselves, becoming first-team regulars under Erik ten Hag and scoring in last Saturday’s FA Cup final win over Manchester City.

Their ascent to the United first-team proves the pathway from the academy remains open, but what are the other members of that Youth Cup-winning side doing now?

ALEJANDRO GARNACHO

There was already a buzz around Garnacho at the time of the final as he’d just made his first-team debut as a late substitute against Chelsea.

Against Forest that night, Garnacho tucked away a penalty to make it 2-1, mimicking Cristiano Ronaldo’s trademark Siiiu celebration, and then surged into the opposition box to score the third, leaving Sir Alex Ferguson beaming in the stands.

As the crowd sung ‘Viva Garnacho’ it was obvious the kid was special – and so it’s proved.

Still just 19, the Argentine already has 86 United appearances and 15 goals under his belt, with Ten Hag seemingly scared to drop him in recent months.

His stunning overhead kick against Everton has just won Goal of the Season and his alertness helped force a rare City mistake for his goal at Wembley.

The sky really is the limit for this potentially generational talent.

KOBBIE MAINOO

Watching the 2022 final in the Old Trafford press box, I described Mainoo as ‘an energetic presence who combines bite in the tackle with a big stride driving forward.’

Despite his obvious qualities, I doubt anybody predicted then he might be starting for England at a European Championship two years later.

That’s the clamour from fans after a sensational breakthrough season at Old Trafford that has seen Mainoo, 19, offer a desperately-needed solution in United’s fragile midfield.

It was capped off by a well-taken finish from Bruno Fernandes’ no-look pass in the cup final and now Gareth Southgate must decide on his role in Germany.

Another academy graduate United can be proud of.

MARC JURADO

Spanish right-back Jurado was one of a trio of exciting talents signed by United from the academies of big LaLiga clubs in 2020 before post-Brexit visa rules kicked in.

He came from Barcelona, while Garnacho was acquired from Atletico Madrid and Alvaro Fernandez from Real Madrid. Well, one out of three ain’t bad.

Fernandez moved to Benfica this week, while Jurado joined Espanyol back in September and has been playing for their B team in Spain’s fourth tier.

He made United’s first-team bench for a Premier League game against Nottingham Forest in April 2023 but only appeared for the under-23 side.

RHYS BENNETT

Bennett captained United that night in 2022 and led from the front by heading home Sam Murray’s cross to open the scoring.

A Manchester lad who signed for United at under-10 level, he was rewarded with a professional contract in July 2023 and was part of the matchday squad at West Ham in December.

He was then loaned out to Stockport County, who were pushing for promotion from League Two. Unfortunately, the centre-back’s one outing was a 4-0 defeat at Tranmere and he didn’t play again.

It’s likely Bennett will go out on loan again next season as part of his learning curve.

ISAK HANSEN-AAROEN

The Norwegian ‘sparkled on the night’ and ‘wasn’t fazed by this grandest of stages’ in 2022.

The midfielder came to United when compatriot Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was at the helm, having been Tromso’s youngest-ever debutant at 15 years and 323 days.

For a time, United fans wanted Hansen-Aaroen to be given a first-team debut but it never happened and he remained steadfastly in the reserves.

Perhaps sensing that opportunity would never come, he moved to Bundesliga club Werder Bremen earlier this year and has featured three times off the bench so far.

CHARLIE MCNEILL

There was much chatter about the forward’s insane scoring record in youth football after he scored over 600 times at Man City before coming to United in 2020.

McNeill didn’t have the best night in the Youth Cup final and was replaced just after the hour mark but later that year he came off the bench to make his senior debut against Real Sociedad.

He was subsequently sent out on loan to Newport County in League Two and then Stevenage in League One but made only a modest impact.

McNeill confirmed this week he is leaving United, saying he was ‘once a red, always a red’ and let’s hope his career kicks on at his next club.

RADEK VITEK

It was a case of ‘all’s well that ends well’ for the young Czech goalkeeper in the 2022 final after he allowed Joshua Powell’s tame shot to squirm under him for Forest’s equaliser.

Vitek made the step up to United’s under-21 side the following season and made Ten Hag’s first-team subs for a handful of Europa League games.

In the season just finishing, Vitek spent time on loan in League Two with Accrington Stanley, where he made 18 appearances and picked up some valuable experience.

It will be interesting to see where the Czechia under-20 international ends up next.

LOUIS JACKSON

Younger than the rest of the side, Jackson was drafted into United’s defence for the 2022 final and performed admirably.

Still only 18, Jackson has split his time between the under-18 and under-21 teams this season, while Ten Hag has called him into his matchday squad four times.

One of those was the FA Cup semi-final against Coventry City at Wembley as United grappled with a defensive injury crisis.

He has represented both England and Scotland at youth international level.

SAM MURRAY

The left-back featured in every game en route to United’s Youth Cup success and it was from his cross that Bennett headed them in front.

The talented Murray was quickly elevated to under-21 level and he’s been a permanent fixture in United’s Premier League 2 games this season.

Despite the left-back shortage caused by injuries to Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia, Murray hasn’t made his way into the first-team picture with Harry Amass often preferred to fill the bench.

Murray was part of a new loan scheme at Old Trafford that saw him loaned to National League club Rochdale while continuing to train regularly at Carrington.

DAN GORE

Played alongside Mainoo that night two years ago and has also experienced first-team football, with a debut against Crystal Palace in the Carabao Cup back in September.

That was the high point of a very varied campaign for the 19-year-old, who captained United in the UEFA Youth League, played for the 21s, sat on the first-team bench for quite a few games and then went on loan to Port Vale.

Unfortunately, he made just one outing for the League One side in January before suffering a quadricep injury which kept him out the remainder of the season.

Another loan somewhere could well be on the cards for 2024-25.

SAM MATHER

Mather played on the opposite flank to Garnacho during the Youth Cup final having started every game on the way to that night, scoring three goals.

He suffered a long-term injury setback not long after that win but returned to academy action with the under-21s this season.

As with Murray, he was part of the Flexi-loan programme with Rochdale, scoring twice in 10 outings for the non-league club.

Again, it’ll be fascinating to see where the next step of his development takes him.

SUBSTITUTES

Joe Hugill – Spent the second half of the season on loan at Burton Albion, where he scored one goal in League One as the Brewers narrowly avoided the drop.

Sonny Aljofree – The centre-back has played regularly for the under-21s and spent time on loan at Altrincham in the National League.

Ethan Ennis – Winger suffered a cruciate ligament injury but he returned to under-21 action towards the end of the campaign a he looks to get back on track.

Omari Forson – Ten Hag took a close look at Forson during pre-season and he received a first-team debut in the FA Cup at Wigan in January. Set up Mainoo’s dramatic late winner in the 4-3 win at Wolves and finds himself on the first-team fringes.

Maxi Oyedele – A loan spell with Forest Green Rovers was cut short after manager Steve Cotterell openly criticised his productivity. But that should just be a mere blip for the highly-rated midfielder.

Tom Wooster – The keeper made a handful of appearances in the youth ranks before going out on loan to Macclesfield in the Northern Premier League.

Logan Pye – Left United to sign a two-year deal at Burnley at the beginning of the 2023-24 season.

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