Old Trafford has a new teenage hero after James Wilson fired home twice on his senior debut in Manchester United's 3-1 win over Hull City . Here’s how the 18-year-old Manchester United youth striker made such a big impression on a similarly emotional night for Ryan Giggs and Nemanja Vidic.
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 7, 2014
Even without the injured Wayne Rooney—and a half-fit Robin van Persie limited to the subs bench—it came as a shock to many to read that Wilson would start ahead of the likes of Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez against Hull. For those that have followed the youngster's progress below the first-team this season however, his goalscoring touch came as no surprise.
His senior debut brace took him up to 24 goals since the summer, having scored nine in the U18's, five for the U19's and eight for the U21's on their run to the final of the Under 21 Premier League. Some silverware following his turn in the first-team would be a fitting end to an amazing season for the young attacker.
As well as being a instinctive finisher, Wilson is a player blessed with excellent pace, allowing him to peel away from defenders and rocket into the box without too many trailing markers to trouble him as he goes for a shot. Yet it was his ability to find space within a crowded area that proved to be the difference against Steve Bruce's visitors.
Pass Route For James Wilson's First Goal Against Hull
Wilson's first goal came from a set piece, with the 18-year-old managing the find the room to pull out a rather acrobatic finish to smash home a Marouane Fellaini knock down after 31 minutes. Impressively, he needed little in the way of space or time to set himself and go for the ball and seemed untroubled by the occasion swirling around him.
Outside of the opposition's box he looked somewhat less composed and a more than a little nervy at times, especially compared to his fellow academy starlet Lawrence who was a vision of control and intent as he surged up through the final third, but that assuredness on the ball will come with more experience.
Given that he spent the vast majority of his time in or around Hull's goal area, it seems a moot point to focus on his occasional brittleness in midfield areas. His pace down the wings also allowed him to compensate for any uncertainty by merely outrunning defenders and helping to stretch out attacks for his team mates.
His second goal was rather more opportunist, finding the ball at his feet for an easy tap in after Fellaini failed to beat Eldin Jakupovic on 61 minutes. After the season of slices and blunted attacking that United have suffered under, it was a welcome sight to see a chance converted rather than wasted, especially given Matty Fryatt's consolation screamer at the other end that beat David de Gea just two minutes later.
“You have seen a little glimpse of the future,” Giggs told the crowds for his post-match speech as United's interim player-manager on the final home game of the season. “This is what this club is about. We never stand still. We give youth a chance as we try and play attractive football."
He may not have secured himself the job on a full-time basis with his short tenure in charge since the 4-0 win over Norwich City, but the veteran Welsh midfielder certainly brought back the sense of forward propulsion and desire to sate the aesthetes that seemed missing for large parts of David Moyes' reign. By giving Wilson, Lawrence, and the Man of the Match Adnan Januzaj, starts in what could be his final home game as a player, it was hard not to read into the fixture as it if were some ceremonial finale; a changing of the guard from one generation of guardians, upholding the club's tenets, to the next.
After all, good football at United has rarely been about exuberance or glamour for the sake of it. In the likes of Giggs, Paul Scholes and even Rooney, the teams of Sir Alex Ferguson provided flair and pizazz like workmen artisans rather than artists, never shying away from the gritty industry required to deliver the end product of results, goals and comebacks. Not for them the satisfaction of being the prettiest runners up.
Louis van Gaal—a coach with a proven record as a developer of youth at Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich—looks set to arrive any day now to begin a new managerial era at Old Trafford, and many fans hope that in Wilson and his fellow youth players such as Ben Pearson and Nick Powell, he will find a budding cast of prodigies to cast into a new class of future heroes.
- Sports & Recreation
- Manchester United
- Wayne Rooney
- Ryan Giggs