Chelsea break United hearts in U21 Premier League Final

Originally published for Quays News on 14/5/2014

CHELSEA’S youngsters came from behind to win 2-1 against Manchester United and claim the Barclays Under 21 Premier League title, spoiling the Reds’ party in front of over 13,000 spectators at Old Trafford.

A first-half strike from Tom Lawrence put United in front, but a goal in each half from Charly Musonda and Lewis Baker sealed victory for the Blues, ending the home sides’ hopes of retaining their U21 Premier League crown.

Both sides fielded players with first team experience in a thrilling game which sees Chelsea complete the double after their FA Youth Cup triumph over Fulham.

After a combative opening ten minutes, which saw referee Paul Tierney produce three yellow cards, it was United who dealt the first blow early on.

Saidy Janko’s cross allowed James Wilson to tee up Lawrence, who showed great composure to work room for a shot and coolly finish past Chelsea keeper Jamal Blackman.

United’s lead was shortlived when Musonda beat three men and fired past Ben Amos to score a magnificent solo effort just ten minutes later.

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United’s U21s hammer Aston Villa

Originally published for Pride of All Europe on 8/4/2014. Below is the original unsubbed copy. Please see link for subbed version.

Jonny Evans returned to action as Manchester United’s under 21 side ran out comfortable 3-0 winners over Aston Villa at Old Trafford.

The centre back, who has been out of action for over two months with a calf injury, played for over an hour as the young Reds side recorded their first win in four games to keep their end of season play-off hopes alive.

First half goals from James Wilson and Joe Rothwell put the hosts in front, before Saidy Janko sealed the three points early in the second half.

United enjoyed most of the possession in the first half, and were nearly ahead after just three minutes when a mistake from Villa keeper Bradley Watkins gave Janko a chance to score, but the angle was too tight for the Swiss youngster to capitalise.

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The curious case of Guillermo Varela

Originally published for Backpage Football on 15/02/2014

Much was made of Manchester United’s summer transfer window debacle, and although it was the £28million deadline day capture of Marouane Fellaini that made the headlines, the club’s first signing of the David Moyes era was that of Guillermo Varela, a largely unknown Uruguayan right-back.

After impressing the club on a two-week trial, Varela was snapped up on a permanent deal in June from Club Atlético Peñarol, for a reported fee of just under £3million. With the dream of following in the footsteps of- and eventually displacing- fellow South American full-back Rafael da Silva, the 20-year-old arrived at Old Trafford and was handed the number 30 shirt. By securing a first team squad number, many expected him to feature on the fringes of Moyes’ side during this campaign.

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Pereira Stunner Sinks West Ham at Old Trafford

Originally published for Pride of All Europe on 11/02/2014

Manchester United’s stars of tomorrow were given the opportunity to experience playing under the floodlights of Old Trafford and rose to the occasion,  securing a 2-1 victory over West Ham United in the Barclays U21 Premier League.

First half goals from captain Michael Keane and Andreas Pereira were enough to seal the victory for Reds on a bitterly cold February night in the north west.

The hosts dominated proceedings early on as first team boss David Moyes’ first United signing, Uruguayan full-back Guillermo Varela, tested West Ham keeper Raphael Spiegel at his near post. With two United corners in the opening 8 minutes, West Ham were camped firmly in their own half, unable to gain a hold of the game.

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Nani- Manchester United’s scapegoat?

Originally published for Backpage Football on 28/10/2013

As the referee’s whistle called time on Manchester United’s narrow victory against Stoke City, it wasn’t so much of a cheer that reverberated around Old Trafford but a monumental sigh of relief.

With three points in the bag, a Fergie-esque late comeback and the pressure on David Moyes – at least for now- lifted, it was all smiles for the Reds as they headed away from The Theatre of Dreams with a home league win for only the second time this season.

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