Reserves/Academy review and a catch-up with former Red, Magnus Eikrem

Author: Doron

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As August comes to a close, there’s much to report from beyond the first team. Both the Reserves and the Academy have played two league fixtures and more players have left the club on loan. We’ve also been lucky enough to have a chat to last year’s Reserve captain (until Christmas), Magnus Eikrem, about United, how and why he left, and what the future may hold for Molde’s number 7.

Tough start to the season for the Academy:

United’s Academy have lost their opening two league games, both against South-coast opposition. The new season started at home to Portsmouth and the Reds lined up with a midfield-heavy side; all technically gifted but lacking in size. This may be a general theme this season but despite a 2-1 defeat there were positives to be taken from the game – such as the return to fitness of Luke McCullough who captained the side. The only goal was scored by Tom Lawrence late on in the game, it was a shame that United’s finishing throughout often lacked accuracy. You can read a full report on the game here, on the United Youth website.

With players away on international duty and others injured, United took a young side to Southampton for their second league game. Southampton have a wonderful reputation for player production and United were in for a tough morning of football. Luke Giverin played as an overage player whilst Blackett had to play out of position at centre back and Luke Hendrie continued at right back despite the fact he’s a midfielder. Upfront, Sam Byrne made his United Academy debut having joined earlier this summer. In truth, United were outplayed and struggled against more experienced opposition. Liam Jacob had his best game for United despite letting in four goals. Funnily enough, United took the lead when Kenji Gorre’s cross was turned into the net by a Southampton defender. The ever-dangerous Jack Barmby got a late second but the game ended 4-2 to Southampton. There was a moment to remember for Declan Dalley though, he came on to play the last 7 minutes and make his debut since joining from Cardiff. Three U16s made the trip and James Wilson and Josh Harrop both came off the bench too, the latter looking very neat and tidy when in possession.

Next up is Leeds at home on Saturday morning.

Youth tours and competitions announced:

United have announced they’ll be taking part in four youth tours and competitions in 2011. They are:

22 Oct – 27 Oct: Training camp in Slovakia (U18s)

23 Oct – 28 Oct: Abu Dhabi Academy visit Manchester United Soccer Schools (U16s)

10 Dec – 19 Dec: Future Champions U17s tournament – Belo Horizonte, Brazil (born in 1995 or later)

10 Dec – 12 Dec: 20th Bundesliga U13s tournament – Badsalzuflen, Germany (born in 1999 or later)

Mixed start for the Reserves:

The Reserves started their season in mid-April away to Arsenal. Kuszczak, Diouf and Fletcher played in a side that was captained by Darron Gibson. An entertaining but often sloppy game was kept even until the half hour mark when Zeki Fryers was played into trouble by Darren Fletcher allowing Arsenal to slip in and eventually Sanchez Watt gave them the lead. United were level before half time though – Pogba, playing on the right hand side, was set free by Gibson and his wonderful low cross found Mame Diouf who levelled. Both sides could have scored in the second half but with 15 minutes to go it was Arsenal who got a winner – Chuks Aneke bullied his way past Fletcher and eventually scored via a lucky deflection off Fryers.

League game number two proved to be much better for United. Only 545 people turned up at Moss Lane to watch the first home game of the season against Swansea but those lucky few witnessed a goal-fest. Once again, first teamers Darren Fletcher and Mame Diouf started whilst Kiko Macheda also played the first half. Davide Petrucci had his best game since his return from injury and appeared to revel in a role that gave him both freedom and a license to create. Macheda, Pogba, Diouf (2), Lingard and William Keane scored the goals in a 6-0 drubbing, a scoreline that truly did reflect the game. Jesse Lingard’s was the pick of the goals – William Keane latched onto a long ball and went wide as the keeper came out, he swivelled and dinked a ball in the air to the edge of the penalty area where Lingard, first time on the volley, thumped the ball into the net. There was some concern near the end as Pogba went off with cramp but he recovered and is now with the French U19 squad.

Player focus – Larnell Cole:

A few weeks ago, Herzog’s Child decided to write about Larnell Cole, an 18 year old central midfielder come winger who along with the other FAYC winning Academy graduates, is now in his first full season with the Reserves. Here’s an extract from the piece:

“The only thing, one can gather, that could potentially impinge upon his route to success may be the drawback that has held back a phalanx of others: his size. Febian Brandy, the distant wunderkind and immensely talented ex-red, was unhinged by failing to grow much after 15. After a brief stint at lowly Notts County, he is currently displaced from the game. But for every Brandy, there’s a, well, dare I say it, Xavi and Iniesta, and those types of guys. Physical presence is a more than valuable support to have on your side, but a lack of it can be made up for in mobility, grit and ability.”

You can read the rest of the article by clicking here.

Manchester Senior Cup fixtures announced:

The Reserves start the defence of the Manchester Senior Cup in their next fixture. Last season they won the competition again for a record 25th time by beating Bolton 3-1 in the final at Old Trafford.

Here are the fixturs that have been announced, all may still change date or kick-off time:

Thu Sep 8th Bury (H) 7PM
Thu Oct 13th Bolton (A) 7PM
Wed Feb 1st Oldham (A) 7PM
Thu Feb 9th Man City (H) 7PM

Players on loan:

United have a whole plethora of players currently gaining experience and competitive minutes away from the club. In the Premier League, Ritchie de Laet has played every minute of Norwich’s return to the top flight and has scored a goal to help them get a point against Stoke. Despite gifting Juan Mata his first goal for Chelsea, De Laet has been consistent and solid at centre back.

One player to make a really positive impression so far has been Robbie Brady at Hull. He’s shone playing on both the left and right wings looking every bit as dangerous as he did in the Reserves last year. His crossing and long range shooting appear to have improved too and that was evident last weekend as he scored Hull’s winner against Reading – albeit with a bit of luck! Robbie has started every game and never played less than an hour whilst he’s completed a full game twice.

Two midfielders joined teams late on in the transfer window on loan – Danny Drinkwater joined Barnsley and immediately made his full debut away at Millwall in a 0-0 draw; whilst Oliver Norwood has gone to Scunthorpe on loan. Norwood immediately came up against Premier League opposition as his side faced Newcastle in the Carling Cup – he played 90 minutes but couldn’t help Scunthorpe avoid defeat. Norwood then suffered the pain of defeat again just 48 hours later as his side went down 3-2 at Sheffield Wednesday. Once more he played the full game and is already on set piece duty for The Iron.

Three other players are currently in the Championship – Reece Brown is at Doncaster and is yet to taste victory in his one start and two late substitute appearances however Ryan Tunnicliffe and Scott Wootton at Peterborough are doing considerably better than bottom placed Doncaster, they sit in 9th place. Wootton has started four games and been used as a substitute once whilst Tunnicliffe has appeared in every game so far (including the Carling Cup), coming on as a sub six times and starting once. Both played in Peterborough’s 7-1 stuffing of Ipswich and in general they have impressed despite being critical of their performances on Twitter!

Joshua King and Bebe are both on loan abroad. King has come off the bench once for Borussia Mönchengladbach and wears number 15 there. For Bebe though, things haven’t gone well – he is out for 6 months after tearing his cruciate ligament in his knee.

Former Red – Magnus Eikrem:

It’s just over eight months since Magnus Eikrem followed Ole Solskjaer, Rich Hartis and former United coach, Mark Dempsey to Molde FK. His time at United was rarely straightforward with peaks and troughs but he left with no regrets and moved back home to Norway to start a new project.

Magnus was handed the number 7 shirt by Ole and immediately it became clear that the team was to be built around him. To date he’s thrived on the responsibility and he is at the centre of a charge for the title. Molde have never won the Norwegian Premier League but in their centenary season they’re 8 points clear with nine games left to play.

With a first ever title for Molde, Ole and Magnus in sight, we decided to catch up with him and reminisce about his time at United whilst daring to dream about the future. Magnus, ever the professional politely pointed out he didn’t want to think too far ahead and would rather work hard on the pitch than speculate about what could happen. Nevertheless, here’s Magnus on…

…joining United:
“It’s never easy as a 16 year old to move away from your home and leave your family behind. However many people experience that same situation in life and of course with me, Paul McGuinness and Ole helped me a lot on and off the pitch.”

…life at United:

“The older players at United are brilliant. They give you advice all the time and encourage you to work harder every day. They’ve won so much but you can still see the effort they put into training every day, I couldn’t pick out any players specifically, I think every one of them helped me out. The hardest thing about United is that there are so many good players from all over the world. It’s hard to get in to United’s first team, people say it’s easier to win the lottery!!”

…captaining the Reserves:

“I am a bit of a moaner! But I tried to lead through what I did on the pitch; not necessarily shouting or something like that.”

…leaving United:

“It had come into my mind. I was in the squad a few times but never felt I was going come on. Already at Scunthorpe (in the League Cup) I had a feeling that I had to move on. A few clubs were interested in taking me on loan but I turned them all down because I was training with the first team a lot and nothing is better than that. It was tricky near the end, I didn’t know where my future lay and I think my performances suffered a bit because of that. Of course, it’s hard to leave. You’ve got everything there: players, facilities etc, but often players who do move on from Man United will still have good careers elsewhere. The thing that I miss the most is training with Paul Scholes and seeing the things he could do. You can’t believe it…”

…the Norwegian Premier League:

“I think it was a good step up for me. I had to play first team football and play in front of big crowds. I love it here and hopefully we (Molde) can achieve some big things here.”

…differences between Molde and Manchester:

“It’s mostly the same to be honest, but in training with the reserves we couldn’t do any tactics or set pieces because we often didn’t have enough of the same players; but the next day in a game, there would bes 7 first team players playing!”

…staying in touch:

“I speak to Joshua King of course as we play in the same national team…. and Ben Amos – he was going to visit Molde for a holiday, but he wasn’t able to find the time! I’ll go back to Manchester and watch a few games in December though!! In terms of playing, I miss Corry Evans running around and playing the ball to me, I’ll have to get Molde to buy him!!”

…the current United youngsters and Mats Dæhli specifically:

“Many of them impressed me, everyday a different player would do something out of the world. It’s so hard to pick anyone out specifically. Mats is a brilliant player, I have trained with him a few times and he even trained with Molde on his holiday. I don’t want to lump any added weight on his shoulders but I think everyone who watches him can see what talent he has.”

…diabetes and football:

“Of course it stopped my development at the time. I didn’t play much football for 6 months but now it doesn’t stop me at all, it’s no problem. Many people at United helped me a lot with it and the break I got for 2 months to get on with it… well, that was vital.”

…goals for the future:

“My goals for the future are to help Molde to win something; will it be this year, next year or the year after? I don’t know, but we work hard every day to get better. In football you can never tell, things can happen so quickly. Of course I would at one point love to play in England again but at the moment I love playing in Molde. Believe me, I’ve still got plenty to learn!”

Magnus recently scored his second goal for Molde, the winner against Lillestrom. It was so good that we’ve decided to share it with you:

You can follow Magnus and keep track of what he’s up to on his Twitter page. We wish the best of luck to Maggie, Ole & Co. in their attempts to create history.

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3 Comments on Reserves/Academy review and a catch-up with former Red, Magnus Eikrem

  1. Very good article mate. He was touted as one of the best young talents around and whenever I saw him I thought he was pretty good. Let’s hope he comes back to United along with Ole 🙂

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