All Manchester United fans would agree that the start to this season has been less than ideal. No wins from the first three Premier League games against more than beatable opponents and a humiliation in the Capital One Cup to MK Dons was not the start anybody envisaged under Louis van Gaal.
However, the impressive victory over QPR has really seen the mood change in camp and just like last year’s disaster under David Moyes, we can count on youth to provide a shining light.
Before the start of United’s pre season tour, the majority of fans wouldn’t have heard the name Blackett. With United since the age of eight, Blackett has worked his way through United’s youth teams, had two spells out on loan to different Championship clubs and has now found him self starting in Van Gaal’s first four competitive games as Manchester United manager.
Blackett is a left footed centre-back who is also capable and playing left-back and was part of United’s 2011 FA Youth Cup winning side, playing at both left-back and centre-back for the team.
In his first spell away from the club, Blackett was used by then Blackpool manager Paul Ince as a left-back. Blackett was never going to be played week in week out and put in some shaky performances when called upon. However, after an initial one month loan at the club, Ince was impressed and decided to extend the loan deal to January. He made five appearances for the club.
“As for the Van Gaal, he said from day one that he was always going to help our cause and give young players a chance. It gave all the young players at the club a lift.” Tyler Blackett
Blackett’s next move away from the club was to Birmingham. He had a less successful time there. On his debut for the blues he gave away a penalty early on in the game which seemed to knock his confidence somewhat, with the left-back duties being covered by Paul Robinson and Mitchell Hancox for the following fixtures.
However, Lee Clark, his boss at the time, was very complimentary of the improvements he saw in Blackett’s game: “I have got to say I was really impressed with Tyler, both in defence and attack he did lots of good things in the game.” He returned to United having made eight appearances.
When Van Gaal took over and United he made it well known he wanted to assess the squad and that everyone would be given a chance, Blackett made the most of this. As a left footed centre-back, Blackett seemed comfortable in the new look 3-5-2 formation and impressed on tour.
Making his debut against LA Galaxy, he was rarely troubled by a less than impressive Galaxy attack but asserted his authority on the pitch winning aerial duels and looking composed with the ball at his feet. With the rotation in the squad on tour, Blackett was given further opportunities to play and came out of the tour with five games under his belt and a chance of first team football after a number of defensive injuries.
“I still speak with Rio now and he texts me after games. He would take me for training sessions on my own where he would give me tips.” Tyler Blackett
Many people wouldn’t have expected Blackett to flourish so early on in Van Gaal’s reign but he proved everybody wrong. Although a hot shot at United, Tyler comes a cross as a lad with his head in the right place.
In a recent interview, Blackett explains how he tries to learn from his performances and improve his game.
“You have to be disciplined with it and be able to criticise yourself,” he said during his first interview with a national newspaper.
“It’s not an easy thing to do and can be quite difficult, especially if you are going to watch a game where you know you have not played your best. But I feel it is something you have to do if you want to improve. It is especially helpful when you are trying to learn how to play a new system [playing three at the back] like we are at United now.
“”We all watch and analyse performances together after matches. You have to study performances on your own too. I’ve not only done that at United. I did it when I was on loan at Blackpool and Birmingham [last season] as well. I get the broadcasts of my games from the media guys at the club. I take them home and watch them on my laptop.
“Watching the games lets me know where I need to improve. I was watching one game at Carrington recently when Gary Neville walked past. He stopped, shook my hand, said “well done” and left me to it.”
Qualities like these are essential for any youngster trying to play their way into United’s first team and although Blackett doesn’t have the most illustrious past, he is certainly making a case for being a first team regular this season. With Rojo being brought in, another left footed centre back, Tyler’s position in the team is certainly going to be under threat, but from what we’ve seen so far you can bet he’ll be up for the challenge.