Manchester United have been strongly linked with a move for Crewe midfielder Nick Powell this summer. The Daily Mail has already reported that we have wrapped up a £4 million deal for the 18-year-old and with chief scout Martin Ferguson at Wembley watching the game, it seems that United are definitely keeping an eye on Powell. It has been said that United are going to announce the signing after the match today, so who is he?
Most Manchester United fans have not had the chance to see the League Two Young Player of the Year. He had a great season with the club scoring 14 goals and attracted plenty of attention. His appearance in the League Two play-off final against Cheltenham today gave everyone the opportunity to see Powell in action.
Some fans turned their nose up at the fact that our scouts are looking at young English talent. What are we doing looking at players from the Football League when we have such gaping holes in the first team squad? They seem to have forgotten the United way of nurturing talent and our coaches bringing the best out of young players.
It didn’t take them long to eat their words today with Nick Powell immediately grabbing the headlines in the final. After only 15 minutes, he took a touch on the edge of the area and lashed in a quite brilliant left footed effort that nestled right in the top corner. The goal was reminiscent of Henry’s touch and volley against Barthez in Highbury. It was a natural finisher’s goal. He didn’t have to look up, he knew where the goal was. In what is the biggest game of his young career, it was a fantastic show of confidence and obvious talent.
As the first half progressed, Powell stood out as the best player on the pitch. From pin-point crosses to a fizzing drive that only narrowly went wide, he was putting in a great shift. He didn’t seem to be phased by the occasion and what impressed me was his overall game – the positioning, the intelligence, the awareness on the pitch. He even stopped Cheltenham scoring when he nodded an effort off the line. It was obvious that a step up to the United reserves was well within his reach.
The second half was much quieter for Nick. Crewe had obviously had a word at half time and set up far more defensively, effectively leaving Powell out of the game for big stretches. However, when he got himself on the ball, he always seemed in control. He might not have electric pace but he certainly has great balance and quick feet for a big man.
Powell came off in the 80th minute after he picked up a knock but he had already down the damage to Cheltenham. It was a great performance from a player firmly in the spotlight. On many occasions in history, players have crumbled in the face of pressure. However, Powell seemed invigorated. He thrived on the occasion and his wonder goal epitomised that attitude and after today’s play-off final, those who sniggered at the thought of United buying a League Two player may well be eating their hats and singing “Sign him up” to Sir Alex.