Manchester United at the 2014 Marveld Tournament

by Sam Peoples

Marveld 2014: It’s all about experience.

By John de Loos
Manchester United’s U15s participated in the 25th Marveld Youth Tournament last week near Groenlo in the east of the Netherlands. It’s a highly respected youth tournament with a lot great teams participating each year. This year the likes of Ajax, PSV, Real Madrid and Barcelona were all present. United have been sending a squad to the Marveld Tournament for 12 consecutive years and their best achievement was finishing second in 2012.

A host of famous stars have grazed the fields at the Marveld Tournament over the years. Not just stars from United but from around the globe such as Jordi Alba, Thiago Alcantara, Stevan Jovetic, Romelu Lukaku, Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger and many more.

Of course, a number of famous United players have plied their trade there as well such as Robin van Persie, Alexander Büttner, Tom Cleverley, Michael and Will Keane and many more.

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United sent a relatively young 18 man squad to this year’s Marveld Tournament. Jake Barrett, Faustin Makela, Joseph Costello and Lewis Thompson were the only survivors from last year’s squad. Those four players were supplemented with U13 and U14 players. So all-in-all, a rather young squad, especially in comparison to the other squads present at this years tournament which consisted largely of U14 and U15 players. It meant most of the players in the other teams were physically more developed (bigger/stronger) and had some more experience, so it was always going to be very tough for the youngsters to get any kind of result here.

Manchester United were placed in the DLA ICT-group with five other teams – Real Madrid, Atletico Paranaense, PSV, Ajax and FC Twente. The tournament set-up meant United first had to play five group games (two halves of 20 minutes) which would be followed up on Sunday with two games in either a play-off or semi-final (depending on the result in the group stage). Here’s how the team got on.

Manchester United 3-0 PSV

Early on in the first half United came under pressure from PSV which led to Campbell (GK) bringing down a PSV player in the box. It was a soft penalty and PSV scored. The second PSV goal came from sloppy defending on United’s side. With some changes in the second half, United tried to attack but in doing so, they opened up at the back and PSV found it fairly easy to score their third and final goal of the game.

Real Madrid 4-0 Manchester United

Real Madrid were a more technical side then PSV were but United were a bit unfortunate to concede their first goal. Campbell kept a long range strike out from Real Madrid with a terrific save but they were able to score from the rebound.

Campbell kept out another great effort from Madrid just before the break so United went into half-time 0-1 down. United made three changes at half-time but those substitutes had hardly any time to settle in before Madrid doubled their lead. On top of that, they scored another 2 great goals.

Aidan Barlow got injured late on in the second half and was carried off by United’s physio. He left the ground on crutches that evening and would remain a doubt for the second day of the tournament. After two games in this group, Ajax and United both remained pointless. United however, were bottom of the group with a worse goal difference (-7) than Ajax’s.

Ajax 2-0 Manchester United 

Barlow seemed recovered from his injury the day before and started the game. Straight from the start, Ajax started to pressure United’s defence which led to a 1-0 lead for Ajax with a beautiful curled shot in the top corner of Campbell’s goal.

United were pinned down in their own half and so the youngsters were 1-0 down at half-time. After the break, an individual error from Lewis Thompson led to Ajax’s second goal. If it wasn’t for his error, United probably would have forced an equaliser as they were the better side but that second goal was a huge disappointment for the young lads who weren’t able to pick themselves up from it.

Manchester United 0-2 Atletico Paranaense

United started the game better than their previous games. Campbell proved himself once again with a few stunning saves but unfortunately he couldn’t deny Atletico their first goal which, in all honesty, was created with great individual skill as it went low down hard past Campbell.

United made no half-time subs and started off brightly but United’s defenders were unable to clear an Atletico corner and they took advantage of that and finished the game off with a second goal. A Lewis Thopmson effort went close but unfortunately United were running out of time.

FC Twente 2-2 Manchester United 

Both sides were more evenly matched than in the previous games. However, against the run of play United conceded a goal. Two subs at half-time for United and a FC Twente goal straight after the break added to United’s woes. However, United were able to pick themselves up after the second goal and started to impose their own game on FC Twente which led to great goal from Jack Stewart, United’s first goal of the tournament.

However, the youngsters didn’t sit back and wanted more. A beautiful flick van Melle Meulensteen (Rene’s son) to Thompson led to the equaliser for which they worked so hard. It couldn’t have come at a better time as the referee blew his whistle straight after the equaliser. Well done.

With United’s last game in mind, I wonder what would have happened if they scored their first goal in an earlier game in the tournament. The goals scored clearly were what the youngsters needed so it is a shame they weren’t able to score sooner. United’s U15s finished their group sixth and last. They need to play two play-off games to decide their place in the tournament. They started with playing Fluminense on Sunday.

Play-off: Fluminense 5-1 Manchester United 

Fluminense scored from a bad clearance on the edge of the box halfway in the first half and United found themselves 1-0 down going into half-time. Fluminense were a strong physical side and the youngsters found it difficult to cope with them, something which was reflected in the scoreline. United’s midfielders lost the ball quite easy under pressure and were punished with two quick goals from the Brazilian side. After Fluminense scored a fourth goal from the rebound, United’s Da Silva Monteiro pulled one goal back. Quite a finish from the 13-year-old but a fifth goal from the Brazilian side sealed United’s fate.

Play-off: Manchester United 0-0 SV Grol 

Quickly after the game started, SV Grol found themselves with ten men on the pitch after a player got sent off for a foul on Gomes but during the remaining time in the first half, United were unable to take advantage of the sending off. The game remained open with chances at either side but neither scored a goal.

The game ended 0-0 and a penalty shoot-out decided who claimed the 11th spot in this year’s Marveld tournament. With Costello, L. Thompson, Levitt and Gomes all scoring their penalties and SV Grol missing two of their own, Manchester United claim 11th spot at the 2014 Marveld Youth Tournament, something they also did in 2011. The years after that they finished second and fourth.

Sending a relatively young squad didn’t help this year as, in the end, it comes down to experience. This tournament will give them some valuable experience. Hopefully the youngsters can learn from this experience and bounce back in their next game/tournament.

Manchester United’s Player of the Tournament

Although three players stood out for me, I think Joseph Rankin-Costello was United’s best player during this tournament. I still remember him from last year’s tournament. He made great strides forward and deservedly captained this young side.

Think Angel Gomes is still young and if he comes back next year, he will certainly be a player to keep your eye on. Makela came into this tournament after being out injured for quite a while which, unfortunately, was obvious. He still showed glimpses of his abilities but if he was 100 % fit, I’m sure he would have done better and probably the whole team as well.

Manchester United U15s win Fair Play Award

Our youngsters got rewarded for their game by winning the Fair Play Award of the Marveld 2014 tournament, an award which they also won last year. This award is awarded to the team with the least fouls so it’s a great achievement. Hopefully we will see Manchester United back next year in the 2015 Marveld Youth Tournament.

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