Playing young players in big games need not be scary. Anthony Elanga stepped up and was one of Manchester United’s best players against Aston Villa on Saturday night.
United have been very keen with youngsters in recent years. While Ole Gunnar Solskjaer professed to be an antidote to Jose Mourinho, only one player established himself as a regular under the Norwegian, Mason Greenwood.
Solskjaer gave others chances, before holding them back again or sending them out on loan. If Solskjaer was still in charge, Anthony Elanga would be heading out on loan this month.
One of the players sent out rather than being given a Premier League chance is James Garner. The England under-21 international is hitting form on loan at Nottingham Forest right now.
Making case for recall
United fans are keen for a country to be signed this month. At present it does not seem like the club are going to do so.
Given the inactivity in the transfer market, the timing could be right for United to recall James Garner to make a real run at a first team spot, while he has some momentum and while there signing is a need, before news come in during the summer and he becomes an afterthought.
Garner caught the eye against Arsenal last week in the FA Cup third round win. He impressed again for Forest against Millwall on Saturday.
Helping Forest to an impressive 1-0 away win, Garner created four goalscoring chances, per WhoScored.com, the joint highest among all players on the pitch.
Garner also made three tackles, the joint highest among forest players, and attempted three shots – although none hit the target, a clear area to improve.
Add a fresh face into midfield
After a slow start to the campaign, Garner is picking up and showing he can be a big asset for the Championship club. He has now spent 12 months at Forest in total, and United might want to think about offering him a new challenge.
Making the leap to United side could be tough, but 19-year-old Anthony Elanga made it look remarkably easy on Saturday night.
On Aston Villa’s side, youngster Jacob Ramsey scored one goal and Carney Chukwuemeka made a big impact off the bench when he came on too.
United did not have a young midfield option to turn to. Ralf Rangnick could do worse than bringing James Garner into the fold, if he is not going to sign a player.
Like Anthony Elanga, Garner might just seize his opportunity and start making a positive contribution. United need fresh faces in midfield, and you don’t know if you don’t try.
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