It was a tricky fixture on paper especially after the Premier League’s points deduction verdict but Manchester United eventually secured a 3-0 win against Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday.
The victory came courtesy of a couple of blinding displays from United’s academy products with Alejandro Garnacho scoring potentially the goal of the season, courtesy of an acrobatic overhead kick.
The Argentine rightfully claimed all the plaudits but it was Kobbie Mainoo who shone the brightest, producing a midfield masterclass from the defensive midfield position.
Mainoo, the new midfield star
Manager Erik ten Hag and skipper Bruno Fernandes were full of praise for the 18-year-old who covered every blade of grass and showcased excellent positional awareness.
It was clear from pre-season that the United manager had plans for the academy midfielder and now after returning from injury, we might see him play in more and more games, especially in the absence of Casemiro.
As per The Independent, the England U-19 international is considered as the perfect alternative to Frenkie de Jong, a midfielder Ten Hag has always wanted to bring to Old Trafford and one he had worked with and achieved great success with at Ajax.
While the Barcelona star might not be coming any time soon, the United boss seems to be delighted with the progress shown by the FA Youth Cup winner and there are plans to pair him with new recruit Mason Mount.
The former Chelsea man has struggled to adjust to his new surroundings but there is hope that with the pace and power of Mainoo alongside him, the Englishman can justify his immense price tag.
“The Dutch coach believes that Kobbie Mainoo greatly helps. There’s even a suspicion that his impact can end up being even more impressive and important than what it has been seen so far.
“Ten Hag is hopeful that Mainoo can be the Frenkie de Jong-style midfielder that he has been lacking since joining the club, and wants to see how a pairing with Mason Mount works.”
Mainoo-Mount, ETH’s dream combo
When paired with Casemiro, Mount ended up playing in advanced areas, thus leaving space for the opposition to counter which the Brazilian could not contain due to him losing a yard of pace.
But the United youngster is full of pace and power and can cover more efficiently, thereby allowing the England midfielder to do what he does best.
Ten Hag has faced criticism, especially in his second season with the team playing a more conservative way and he has been often urged to play in a more attacking style, like he had done with great success back at Ajax.
This combo will be quite an attacking lineup but it could bring success, especially in home games where the opposition are likely to sit deep and try and hold on for dear life.