James Garner has been patiently waiting for his first-team opportunity. Now, Manchester United should pull the trigger.
27th February, 2019. The day where James Garner would make his full Manchester United debut in a Premier League victory over Crystal Palace.
That was supposed to be the start of his Old Trafford career. Yet here we are, two years later, with Garner still yet to be given a real chance to prove his worth.
A loan move to Nottingham Forest has the Englishman back on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s mind. Garner was brilliant in the Championship this season, contributing with goals, leadership and playing with a calmness that any elite midfielder needs.
Here at Old Trafford Faithful, we’ve been banging the Garner drum for what feels like a half-decade. Ever since he scored an outrageous goal against Perth Glory on pre-season tour a few years ago, we’ve felt like he’s ready to contribute at the Premier League level.
With Fred struggling and Donny van de Beek making little-to-no impact, this could be the opportune moment to see what Garner can do. The 20-year-old academy star is that talented, he could well be the answer to United’s midfield problems – meaning funds for transfers could be invested into other areas of the squad.
We’re talking about someone who has been too good for the U23 level for at least two years. Judging by the stats above, he’s also ready to play at a higher level than the Championship.
Now, I’m not saying Garner should start every game for United. However, he should be slowly eased into things in 2021/22. Just like Scott McTominay was drip-fed minutes as a young midfielder, the Birkenhead-born Garner should be offered that same luxury.
This United midfield has been crying out for someone who can do the simple things well. Garner is great with the ball at his feet, he always picks the right pass and he can drive his team forward, too. Add him to a midfield containing the tenacious McTominay and super-creative Bruno Fernandes and I genuinely believe we could be onto a winner.
I understand the pressure that Solskjaer is under to deliver silverware over the next twelve months, but he’s also been great when it comes to giving minutes to academy graduates. Garner is deservedly next in line for his chance and I’d put good money on him taking that opportunity and not looking back.
It all starts on pre-season tour for Garner. I don’t doubt he’ll be involved in some capacity. From the first minute in the first training session, Garner has to make his intentions clear and not let this moment pass him by.
I’m 100% backing him to make his mark. Heck, you don’t draw comparisons to the great Michael Carrick if you’re not good enough. Hopefully, Solskjaer does the right things and integrates him into the senior squad this season.
Is James Garner good enough to play for the first-team at Manchester United? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below.