Manchester United Football Club have built their foundation upon giving young players a chance.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been more-than-willing to continue that mantra, with the likes of Marcus Rashford, Brandon Williams and Mason Greenwood all impressing.
There is always some sort of first-team opening for the next generation, too. After all, injuries often disrupt seasons while back-ups and youngsters need to be called upon.
Amongst those players ready to make that jump to the next level is James Garner. The Birkenhead-born midfielder was part of pre-season tour, though he was used sparingly – albeit he did score within minutes of his first Red Devils friendly game against Perth Glory – and what a strike it was too…
Right now, though, the 19-year-old is at a career crossroads, leaving both United and the player with a huge decision to make about his future.
Look, it’s clear for anyone who has watched him. Garner is a cut above PL2 football. He’s captained United’s U23s side magnificently all term, while almost managing one goal contribution per game.
You see, the problem is this. Garner has learned all he can from U23s manager Neil Wood. The midfielder needs to make that next career step – at United or elsewhere.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but why on earth United haven’t sent Garner out on loan at some point this season is just beyond me. Fine, if Solskjaer doesn’t think he’s ready then fair enough, but you’re only kidding yourself if you don’t believe Garner couldn’t have made a difference to a Championship side, or perhaps a bottom-half Premier League team.
Yes, he’s young, but this kid has it all. He’s the perfect box-to-box midfielder who’ll run all day, pick the right passes and chip in with ample goals and assists. Garner’s also a great leader, hence why the U23s have handed him the captain’s armband on numerous occasions.
I guess the reason why he hasn’t been further integrated into the first-team is somewhat obvious. Bruno Fernandes’ arrival doesn’t help matters, while Scott McTominay, Fred and Nemanja Matic are all ahead of him in the pecking order. I’d love to see Garner given a chance over Andreas Pereira, though.
What’ll likely happen is that United will see how this season plays out, then hopefully utilise Garner more on pre-season tour. From then on, it’s either sell him, play him or loan him.
The good news for United is that Garner is contracted until 2022 with the option for a further year. Simply put, his Red Devils future is secure for the next three years. Time is on Solskjaer’s side…