Manchester United and youth development walk hand-in-hand. Now, in the form of Charlie McNeill, the Old Trafford club have unearthed another gem.
Credit where it’s due, no sooner had Ole Gunnar Solskjaer walked through the Old Trafford doors, our Baby Faced Assassin was ensuring this great club returned to its roots.
From playing attractive football, to putting real trust in the generation of tomorrow. Solskjaer has signed several youngsters who will no doubt make their mark in time. Hannibal Mejbri fits into that category, as does Charlie McNeill.
The 17-year-old was actually signed from Manchester City, though McNeill made no bones about his love for the Red half of Manchester. When he kissed the badge after scoring against our cross-town rivals is still one of my favourite moments this season.
However, in terms of sheer ability, there aren’t many better in the world than McNeill. His stats back that up, too. In 21 starts, the forward has 22 goals and 7 assists. Only Mason Greenwood can say he’s scored 20 goals in a single campaign for the United youth team. That’s some elite company.
What I’ve been most impressed with is McNeill’s all-round game. He’s not a greedy striker. If the forward sees a teammate in a better position, he’s more than willing to give up the ball rather than shooting himself. You cannot teach that sort of selflessness.
This kid just plays with a maturity beyond his years. He’s an on-field leader, someone who the other players can look up to when they need a lift. I cannot stress it enough, McNeill can play.
Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see McNeill take part in our pre-season tour/training camp should we get one this summer. Solskjaer will no doubt be watching on keenly at this rapid rise to prominence at youth level. It’s already a cut below him and the jump up to a higher skill level will surely be made in the not too distant future.
The best part about it? He absolutely loves Manchester United Football Club. He’s a fan like me and you, which always makes it that little bit more special.
Who knows, Greenwood was fortunate enough to make his first-team debut aged just seventeen. I wonder if we’ll see McNeill given that opportunity soon.
Does Charlie McNeill have what it takes to go right to the top? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below.