Manchester United began their Carabao Cup defence on a dominant note, easing past Premier League side Crystal Palace 3-0 at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
Manager Erik ten Hag rotated heavily and it paid dividends as key stars got the night off while under-performing and reserve players managed to impress.
The third-round encounter was extra special for academy graduate Dan Gore who made his first-team debut in the 61st minute of the contest when he came on to replace Sofyan Amrabat.
Dan Gore earned his United debut
He more than held his own and showed fantastic awareness with the ball at his feet including a few line-breaking runs into the heart of the Palace defence.
Gore became the third academy star to make their debut under Ten Hag with Charlie McNeill and Kobbie Mainoo doing it before him.
He was part of United’s pre-season squad and impressed in the game against Olympique Lyon where he assisted Donny van de Beek with a fantastic cut-back.
It was also the academy graduate’s birthday and the 19-year-old could not have asked for a more special birthday gift. And as the manager pointed out after the game, it was not a gift. The youngster had earned his chance.
“I think it’s a great birthday. But I’ve said it, I’m not a manager, nor have coaches, who gift players opportunities. They have to deserve it. Once they deserve it, they get the opportunity.
“But they have to prove it. I think Dan Gore did but also young players, such as Hannibal, [Facundo] Pellistri, Garnacho. They have to do it every time again,” the manager told the club’s media team.
Gore became the 247th academy graduate to make his competitive debut for the club and the midfielder was equally delighted with the achievement.
Congratulations Dan… debutant number 247 takes his first steps in to the professional game. Well done to family, friends and staff that have supported him on his journey so far ! #muacademy #mufc https://t.co/UcgjpXEi8J
— Nick Cox (@Coxy3012) September 26, 2023
He has been part of the matchday squad on a number of occasions this season and finally getting his chance was a dream come true moment but the player acknowledged the need to keep working hard.
“It tops the list of birthdays, it was truly a special moment. I don’t think words can describe that feeling, seeing the fans, it is everything you’ve dreamed of, coming true.
Special moment for Academy starlet
“It means everything [to make your debut], growing up as a United fan [along with] my whole family, it means a lot to them and they were all here supporting me.”
“You have to work hard every day in training and then, hopefully, the opportunities come your way,” the youngster told MUTV after the contest.
Head of Academy Nick Cox could not hide his pride at Gore’s debut and insisted there is more to come from the fabled United academy.
The midfielder was part of United’s FA Youth Cup-winning side in 2021 and was named the Denzil Haroun Reserve Team Player of the Year last season.