The big story to come out of Carrington this week is the news that U21 regulars Michael Keane, Jesse Lingard and Robbie Brady have all been sent on loan to Championship clubs. Keane and Lingard have both been sent to Championship high flyers Leicester City for their first loan spells whereas Brady has returned to Hull City for the second time after his successful loan spell last season where he made 39 appearances for the club and scored on three occasions for them.
With it being Keane and Lingard’s first loan deals, Manchester United fans are eager to see how well they compete in the Championship and are keen, pardon the pun, to see if they really do have what it takes to challenge for a starting place in the United XI in the coming seasons.
Keane made only his second first team appearance alongside debutante and fellow U21 team mate Scott Wootton against Newcastle United in the Capital One cup in the closing days of September. A strong and solid performance by Keane subsequently saw him selected for the next round of the Capital One Cup, an enthralling tie against Chelsea which United lost by five goals to four in a game which was won in extra time after Keane’s centre-back partner Wootton gave away a late penalty in normal time.
On the positive side, Keane was singled out as one of the star performers in the United side due to his composure on the ball and his ability to contain frequent ferocious attack from Chelsea whose front line included Daniel Sturridge and Belgian superstar Eden Hazard. Now is the perfect time for Keane to go out on loan and get some first team experience as his confidence is sky high and with the standard of football in the Championship rising every year, there’s no doubt that Keane will come back a better player and maybe challenge the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans and Nemanja Vidic for a starting spot in the United XI.
Lingard has been very unfortunate with the amount of opportunities he has been handed at United due to injuries and United’s continuation to strengthen the squad on the attacking front with acquisitions like Shinji Kagawa and most notably Robin Van Persie joining the club in the off season. Lingard did play a part in United’s pre season tour and made his debut with a strong performance in the 1-0 win over South African outfit AmaZulu.
With Manchester United shining in the attacking department restricting Lingard appearing on the substitutes bench on a few occasions, he has had to settle for the U21 side, where he has without doubt showed what he can be capable of in the coming years. Like Keane, I think it is a perfect time for Lingard to go out on loan as he would only be stuck in the U21s where he would be learning far less than he would be if he was out on loan.
Fortunately, Leicester are having a superb season and with fellow Mancunian and former United protégé Ben Marshall at the forefront of the Foxes attack, Lingard will no doubt settle in at Leicester and hopefully he will come back prepared for a big season in 2013/2014 which will undoubtedly be the biggest of his career to date.
The oldest out of the trio Robbie Brady has already had a taste of the Championship and it is clear that he is keen for more. Brady was at one point seen as the second choice left back at United until the signing of Dutch powerhouse Alexander Buttner. With Brady predominantly being a left winger, he has found it hard to live up to the expectation which United fans have after the last left winger to come out of the club’s academy was the great, Ryan Giggs. With Robbie more or less stuck in the reserves, a loan is ideal for him but unless he comes back a far better player than he is now, then I don’t really see to much of a future for him at Old Trafford.
I’ve said for the past couple of years that Manchester United are in need of another left footed out and out left winger and Brady fits that mould perfectly, but the problem is there are far better left wingers out there. Maybe a loan to Hull is a little bit of a safe move. I would have liked to see him go out on loan to a Premier league club to see if he cuts the mustard at the highest level. Another good loan spell at Hull would give us hope that he can maybe sneak in to the United starting XI with the expected departure of Nani but either way, I struggle to see a big future for him at Manchester United.