Remember the name, James Garner.
Manchester United Football Club have improved under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this season, that much is obvious.
However, for the Baby Faced Assassin, there is still much work ahead. Now, it’s about taking that next step, continuing to evolve this playing squad into a better one while consistently improving the players who are already at the club.
Thankfully, the fountain of youth at Old Trafford is always overflowing, so much so that every year, a handful of the next generation have to go out on loan. Amongst those guys, this season, is James Garner – who we’ve been begging to see at first-team level for years.
Now is the time for the 20-year-old starlet to get a deserved opportunity with the senior squad – and here’s why…
Alright, so his move to Watford failed. Credit to United for realising that, cancelling the agreement then immediately finding a place for him at Nottingham Forest. Since moving to the Championship side, Garner hasn’t looked back.
Forest fans love him like one of their own
Perhaps the most underrated trait a player can have is likability. You can have all the talent in the world but if your teammates and fans don’t take to you, it’s practically worthless. Garner’s already building a wonderful rapport with the Nottingham Forest faithful, who’d no doubt love to take the Englishman for another season.
You can see what an influential figure Garner is in that dressing room, too. Those players look up to the United man. He’s been their shining light in what has been a pretty grim campaign.
The experience has done him the world of good
I already thought Garner was ready. I firmly believe he’s deserved more than the handful of appearances given to him by Solskjaer so far. However, the Norwegian’s probably feeling pretty smug right now – as Garner will come back to Old Trafford a far better player than what he was when he arrived.
Playing with grown men, as opposed to sitting in the U23s, has only helped Garner develop as a footballer. The first-team experience, in a league such as the Championship, will benefit both player and club massively upon his return.
United need some competition for Scott McTominay
In a summer where money is tight due to COVID-19, United’s answer to their holding-midfield problems may already be right under their nose. Nemanja Matic is ageing and he won’t be around forever. Garner can easily slot in and take up the minutes that the Serbian has been getting this term.
Garner is a more mobile player, an equally good passer, a better finisher and he brings far more energy to the table. With the system that United like to run, having that mobility is absolutely key.
The time is now
I’m hopeful that they’ll be some sort of pre-season this term, during which Garner can get acclimatized to being in and around the first team, before being drip-fed minutes over the first few months of the season.
By the end of the 2021/22 campaign, I’m absolutely convinced Garner will be challenging for regular starts game-in-game-out. Why loan him out again when he’s clearly good enough to be involved at Manchester United right now? He’s just too talented for someone else to benefit from.
Is James Garner ready for his first-team opportunity at Man United? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below.