It didn’t take long for Phil Parkinson’s first January target to emerge as Sunderland manager.
According to The Sun, The Black Cats are planning a loan deal for 18-year-old Manchester United starlet James Garner, a talented young midfielder who has also caught the eye of Championship duo Preston North End and Wigan Athletic.
Garner might have made just his second ever first-team appearance on Thursday, starting United’s 1-0 Europa League win away at Partizan Belgrade, but he's been talked about for some time now with many at Carrington thinking that he is the next academy graduate to establish himself as a senior star at Old Trafford.
It remains to be seen whether Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is willing to let Garner leave on a short term deal or whether he wants to keep the teenager in and around his squad for the months to come.
But apparent interest from Sunderland certainly offers an insight into Parkinson’s plans at the Stadium of Light – and not just his trust in youth with the former Bolton boss apparently keen to sign an 18-year-old while putting faith in the likes of Denver Hume and Benjamin Kimpioka.
It is no secret that Garner is seen as the natural heir to Michael Carrick at Old Trafford with Solskjaer himself claiming in the spring that he had ‘great faith’ in the Birkenhead-born playmaker following in the footsteps of one of the most decorated players in Manchester United’s recent history (MEN).
Garner, like Carrick, is an excellent passer of the ball who has the all-too-rare ability to control the game from the centre of the park.
So if Parkinson is a manager who tends to play a rudimentary, direct style of football, as many critics have suggested, why would he be trying to bring in a cultured playmaker like Garner?
Those who watched Sunderland thrash Tranmere Rovers 5-0 on Tuesday will tell you that the Wearsiders played a far more attractive, attacking style than they were used to under Ross and, allied with links to a Manchester United starlet, it certainly seems that the supporters can expect a very forward-thinking, possession-based approach in this new era.
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