The team selected by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to face already eliminated Astana was one of the youngest in Man Utd history. With an average age barely touching 20, there were five debutants and seven teenagers with 26-year-old captain for the night Jesse Lingard the oldest outfield player at 26.
The Reds have already qualified for the knockout phase and look set to top the group with one match left to play. But do you know your Garners from your Gomes’, your Levitts from your Lairds? Here we take a look at those who impressed – and those who didn’t – in a match that was basically a glorified friendly.
Five days on from United’s midfield woe at Bramall Lane, James Garner, 18 and Dylan Levitt, one year his senior, showed signs of class in the midfield pivot. Levitt, for me, stood out above all, outshining those far more experienced than him, despite only turning 19 last week. The result isn’t what he would have wanted, but he was good on the ball, strong in the tackle, his distribution was good and his energy high. He had the most touches of anyone. He and Garner ran the show in the first half but then understandably tired later on. Dare I say it, but there are shades of a certain Mr McSauce about this lad. He did more in 90 minutes than the likes of Fred and Andreas Pereira have managed in what seems like an eternity.
Dylan Levitt’s Man Utd senior debut by numbers:
100% tackles completed
100 passes completed
54 accurate forward passes
30 accurate final third passes
4 ball recoveries
1 key pass
Quality on the ball. 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/c6iMT0mUkQ
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) November 28, 2019
At right-back, Ethan Laird individually looked great and is already rivalling Diogo Dalot to be Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s understudy at Old Trafford. He showed brilliant energy, tenaciousness and bravery and frequently offered a welcome outlet down his side. Over time he will learn and I think we’ll hear more of this lad in the coming months. He is highly rated amongst the coaches and on this evidence you can see why.
It takes some doing to be the fourth oldest player in the team aged 22, but Axel Tuanzebe was a relative veteran in comparison to those around him. Alongside him at the back, Di’shon Bernard made a debut and endured a mixed night. A good first was followed by a trick second half and culminated in an own goal to turn the game on its head. A case of too much too soon for the young defender but his time will come for sure.
Further forward, Tahith Chong struggled and had a night to forget. A shocking miss was followed by a series of misplaced passes and he was hooked after an hour. Chong has only had a handful of first team games but has shown little to suggest he’s good enough – yet.
He’s not ready for this level and should be loaned out like Chelsea youngsters Mason Mount and Fiyako Tomori were. Angel Gomes was good but had no end product. He was lively and looks promising, I think there’s a player in him though and he has more chance of making it than Chong does.
Overall a disappointing night but certainly some positives to take when it comes to the the next generation of Reds youth talent.