Welcome back to the second part of season two in this series.
Isak Hansen-Aarøen, Logan Pye and Charlie McNeill got their debuts, Kobbie Mainoo his first goal and Rhys Bennett captained the first team in the FA Cup 3rd round against Wrexham. A great achievement for all lads involved and even if the captaincy was just for one game it’s huge. With Marc Jurado and Alejandro Garnacho involved as well, that’s seven players from the Class of 22 in the same game.
Three days later we played Newcastle in the Quarter Final of the Carabao Cup and the match had to be decided on penalties. Garnacho showed great composure when he scored the fifth and deciding penalty to secure a place in the semi finals.
January was an even better month for the young lads when Marc Jurado got his first Premier League match against Leeds.
After some brilliant games and good form for the U23s Joe Hugill got his debut from the bench against Coventry in the fourth round of the FA Cup. After only seven minutes on the pitch he scored with a header after a great cross from Kobbie Mainoo. What a way to introduce yourself at Old Trafford! On the same day Charlie McNeill scored and had an assist on his debut in the Championship for Wigan, so it’s even-steven in the race between the attacking gems there.
Carabao Cup final:
Several players from the class of 22 was involved on the way to the final, and in the final itself three players were involved. Garnacho and Mainoo started and Hugill was subbed on in the second half. Unfortunately Harry Kanes late goal decided the match and a 1-2 loss was a fact. Even if we lost, it’s great experience for the players to play in a Cup final – the next one we’re gonna win!
Hugill was included on the bench due to injuries and fatigue against Newcastle on the first day of April. I get that everyone thought it was a joke, but on match day he was there. After trailing I decided to go all out attack and after Ronaldo and Fernandes had turned the game around Hugill came on to replace Sesko for the last 20 minutes. In the 87th minute he finalized the score to 3-1 when he won a header against Nikola Milenkovic. A goal on his debut and another one on his Premier League debut. Both times in the 87th minute. Both on headers! He may be the most dangerous englishman in the air since the WW2.
He has has been the star from the Class of 22 so far and is the one with far most minutes for the first team so far. He had some fantastic moments and performances, especially before the World Cup break, and it’s close to calling this a breakout season for him.
When Jadon Sancho suffered a broken lower leg in the middle of January it open up for alot more game time for Alejandro Garnacho. Unfortunately Garnacho also had trouble with injuries in periods after that.
At 18 he has some impressive stats already, but I haven’t seen the development I hoped to see from him. I need to see him develop more if he want to stay at the club and establish in the first team.
He’s the first player from the Class of 22 to win a Premier League medal.
He is probably the one with the most impressive development so far and has improved alot over the past two seasons. His physical and mental stats are starting to get seriously good and his technique has alway been excellent. I’ve struggled to find the best role for him and I’ve landed on training him as a deep-lying playmaker to fill in when Ruben Neves need a rest.
The plan for him for the next season is to be a permanent member for the first team for the until christmas and reevaluate if a loan move is needed or not.
With four league games he was one game short of getting a winners medal this season.
Another one with an impressive development so far. I’ve concluded that U23 football can’t offer him much more development and he needs to play senior football to reach his potential. He had another impressive season for the academy with 18 assists in 55 games was part of a team that secured another league title for the U23s.
For the next season I want to give him the chance he deserves, but at the moment he has James Ward-Prowse, Diogo Dalot and Brandon Williams in front of him in the wait for first team football. The plan long term is to let Dalot and Williams go, and this summer may be a little early for that to happen.
As with Mainoo he was one game short of getting a winners medal in the Premier League this season. Hopefully he also can get one in the future.
He came on after 28 minutes against Barcelona in the CL final after Brandon Williams got sent off and both Ward-Prowse(The best right back in the world) and Dalot was out with injuries. Even though we lost 1-0 Jurado held his own against Ansu Fati and played to a 7.0 rating.
What a player my fellow Norwegian can be if he play his cards right. He looks for pass rather than attempting to score, but still had 23 goals for the academy this season. Add 25 assists to the mix and you have one hell of player.
He, of course, still has room to improve. Nevertheless, his skills are already quite impressive at 18. Got his debut and first minutes for the first team this season, and it will probably be a lot more next season.
Topped of an already impressive season for the academy with winning PL2 Player of the Season and playing Norway U21s to a Semi Final in the U21 Euros.
Shola Shoretire had a much better second half to the season and had some impressing performances in the Championship along the way. He almost contributed to a promotion as well, but Preston lost the Play-off final on penalties. In 36 games he scored six times and assisted 4 with an average rating of 6.78. He can definitely do better, but overall it was a good season on loan for Shoretire who will be given a chance to impress in the first half of next season.
Willy Kambwala played for two clubs on loan this season and was at his most impressive in League Two for Colchester. He ended his spell at Colchester with 25 games in all competitions and a 7.29 average rating before he was recalled and sent to Oxford in League One. For Oxford he did ok in his 12 games, and I do believe that League One football was better for his development. An average rating of 6.83 showes he had some good games and some average one. Overall a decent loan for him.
Charlie McNeill was sent to Wigan in January after getting his debut for the first team. It was always going to be hard for him to impress for a struggling side that ended with relegation. He did get 17 games and scored four times. It’s not great, but bare in mind that Wigan only scored 35 goals in 46 games. Hopefully he can get another loan at this level next season and continue to progress.
Radek Vitek kept 10 clean sheets in 36 games for Bromley in a mediocre season for them. Vitek showed great development during the season and is definitely ready for a higher level next season.
Tyler Fredricson was sent to our affiliate club Colchester when Kambwala was recalled. After 14 games, one goal, two assists and a 7.10 avg rating we can conclude that Fredricson managed to fill the gap Kambwala left. Great effort from both the defenders contributed to a league title and promotion to League One for Colchester.
Logan Pye was the last player to leave on loan in January. We received repeated bids on him from several clubs during January, but they were all denied. I think it’s too early in his career to let him go and all the bids are far below market value. I think we can get more money down the line. Pye therefore left on loan to Sutton in League Two. Both to get some experience and to stop the bids from coming in.
He got 14 games for Sutton and chipped in with three assists as they finished fifth and lost their semi final in the play-offs. Pye may need another year at this level before he is ready for bigger things. Overall another good loan move and a more mature lad returns for pre-season in the summer.
I’m proud to say that two players from the Class of 22 are included in the NXGEN list for 2023.
Another award worth mentioning is Rhys Bennett, the centre-back and captain for the U23s, winning the Premier League International Cup Golden Boot infront of Rodrygo
Eric Hanbury, Tom Wooster, Ethan Ennis, Daniel Gore, Sam Murray, Louis Jackson and Sonny Aljofree won the FA Youth Cup for the second time in two seasons when the U18s beat Derby 3-0 in the final. Louis Jackson was surprisingly the top scorer for us in the tournament with three goals. Jackson is eligible to play in next years tournament as well and could end up with winning three years in a row.
Some more achievements were checked out this season and it’s good to see that it’s other players than Garnacho that contribute to achieving them.
Hopefully this is just the start. Thanks for reading this blog, I see you soon.
/ FM Veteran