Manchester United u19s took part in the Otten Innovation Cup in the Netherlands on the weekend which featured trials of a number of new rules of the game.
These included sin bins for yellow cards, two 25-minute halves with the clock stopped when the ball is out of play, and the ability to dribble from free kicks and thrown-ins.
United’s youngsters were amongst a group including hosts PSV Eindhoven, FC Copenhagen, and Korean side Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
United fell 2-1 in their match opener against PSV Eindhoven, but Ethan Wheatley’s goal was a good example of the rule changes in action as Finley McAllister caught the opposition off guard by restarting play with a quick dribble from a free kick before playing through Wheatley to turn and score.
Ethan Wheatley’s first goal at the Otten Innovation Cup coming from some quick thinking by Finley McAllister to take advantage of the rule change to allow dribbling from free kicks. #MUFC #MUAcademy #OttenCup pic.twitter.com/Imrpb6j09c
— Manchester United Academy (@RedYouthUnited) August 21, 2023
United then took on Jeonbuk, where despite being scoreless at the break, an entertaining second half saw United run out 3-2 winners.
Wheatley opened the scoring for United before Jeonbuk came back and took the lead but Wheatley was on form on the day as he scored a further two to grab his hat trick and the three points.
In the final group match, United took on Danish outfit FC Copenhagen in a must-win encounter.
Copenhagen took an early lead from the penalty spot though and added another two to take a 0-3 lead. United pulled back a late consolation, but it was too little too late.
Finishing third in the group, United took on FC Utrecht in the 5th place playoff.
Another goal from Wheatley, this time from a penalty that was won by Shea Lacey, saw the match end 1-1 and go into a penalty shootout.
Goals from Jack Moorhouse and Wheatley weren’t enough though as United lost 4-2 on penalties after Lacey had his attempt stopped and Victor Musa also missed.
As a result, United came in 6th place but the weekend was still a great experience for the young players to deal with the quick thinking required to adapt to the set of rule changes on the fly.
Also, good news from the tournament was the return of Lacey, who recently suffered an injury that was at first worried to be serious. New signings Jack and Tyler Fletcher both had their first involvement in a red shirt.