Manchester United’s Under-21s qualified for the Barclays Under-21s Premier League semi-final last night after a dramatic 3-2 win over Reading thanks to a last minute winner for Paddy McNair.
It sets up a mouthwatering tie against Liverpool and given that we were down and out of the league until a revival in the past couple of months, it’s a great turnaround from the team.
Warren Joyce has to take a lot of credit for the vastly improved performances and he’s looking forward to the last few games of the season.
“To be fair to them, we set a challenge of having four finals left this season,” Joyce told ManUtd.com
“We had to win at Reading, if we didn’t, we wouldn’t play again but now there’s another final against Liverpool. We have to win that to play in another final and then have another final against Manchester City. Hopefully, we can play in all four finals.
“Perhaps really, with the amount of players we sent out on loan in the window, we had no right to get into this situation. Every other club kept people in and brought them back from loan to play their strongest team but we chose to leave ourselves short in several positions. It was just a challenge thrown down to try to improve and develop them as human beings as well as footballers and they have certainly responded.”
Joyce has done a very commendable job with the Under-21s this year as he has had to use over 40 different players over the course of the season which made it difficult for him to get any sort of stability in his line-up.
James Wilson has emerged as one of the brightest talents in the squad and his goals have helped spearhead United’s revival. Hopefully he will continue his good form when we face Liverpool in the semi-final and Joyce has praised the characteristic of the whole squad after yesterday’s battling performance.
“It was a hell of a finish and it kind of fits in with the day we’ve had, the build-up and the challenges we put on that group since Christmas,” Joyce added.
“We’re really talking about learning to win and never giving up. In a way, it’s almost a stamp made at Manchester United that we try to produce people as well as footballers.
“One of the characteristics they’ve shown is they never know when they’re beaten and never give up on anything. If they do that every single day of their lives, they will do well for themselves.
“It was a great finish for us after last week when we were thinking we were already in the play-offs. That was the gauntlet thrown down to them, after losing out in the last minute against Norwich, could they win it again? It’s Manchester United’s style isn’t it?”
The date for the semi-final is not set yet but in a season of frustration for the senior team, our Under-21s still have a chance at winning the double.