David Moyes is not yet the manager of Manchester United; at least not officially. He will get that title on 1 July.
But that hasn’t stopped him taking a trip to Old Trafford today for discussions with the club’s current coaching staff. While there, he would also do well to take in a match. Because despite the Premier League season drawing to a close yesterday, a game of potentially huge long-term significance takes place this evening at the home of the champions.
One of the reasons cited for Moyes’ appointment was his commitment to the development of youth. This evening, United’s next generation play Tottenham’s in the Under-21 Premier League final. And should Moyes stick around, he will be able to see first-hand exactly what he is inheriting, and assess if any of those players can break into his first team in the seasons to come.
Having made the bench for yesterday’s match against West Bromwich Albion, Adnan Januzaj seems the most likely to make the step up. The Reserve Player of the Year has excelled this season, and his attacking ability marks him out as one to watch.
Having been given a first-team squad number in the latter half of the campaign, Moyes may consider blooding him in the Capital One Cup next season – a traditional testing ground for United youth of the past.
Moyes will surely also be paying close attention to midfielder Ryan Tunnicliffe. The 20-year-old has been hailed by those in the know at Old Trafford for quite some time now. And yet despite loan spells at both Peterborough and Barnsley, he appears no closer to the United first team.
This season may be a defining one for the former Young Player of the Year, and he may soon have a decision to make. Should he perform tonight, and should Moyes be watching, Tunnicliffe could be given the first team opportunities his talent deserves.
From a former Young Player of the Year to the current holder of that title, Ben Pearson will hope to cap an outstanding season for the Academy side with an appearance in tonight’s final.
The 18-year-old is a dynamic, all-action midfielder with both ball-winning and passing ability in abundance. Next season may be too soon for Moyes to consider a jump straight into the senior side, but the Scot has never been afraid to blood young talent once he deems them ready.
And while it would be easy to list every United player on show this evening as the potential next big thing, only one more will get a mention here: right-back Marnick Vermijl.
The 21-year-old Belgian is able to work up and down the right side with consistency and flair. And while Rafael is proving himself to be every inch the fullback Sir Alex Ferguson believed he would be, the lack of recognised cover in that position may see Moyes consider Vermijl as a possible alternative when required.
Which other young United players are the future of United? And how long will it be before Moyes gives them the chance?
image: © Jason Gulledge