|Some Kids for the Future - by 'The Old Fart'||
Published 01 Nov 1999
An 'eskimo' friend of mine (those eskimo lads are all Red fanatics - well what else is there to think about during the twenty-four-hour dark days? !!!!!) asked me to write a few words about some of the young boys who had cought my eye so I offer it to you as well.
kids for the future?
by 'The Old Fart'
The first thing for you to understand is that I was the one who, when seeing Norman Whiteside play in the Youth team for the first time and having heard so much about the kid, said that he would never make a first team player!! So you must bear that in mind when reading my thoughts on the following young players who have caught my eye this season............
Rachubka...... This lad must now consider himself to be the fifth place goalkeeper after Culkin, Raimond, Taibi and Bosnich, but for me he is much better than that. I rate him better (MUCH better) than Culkin in all departments (particularly kicking - surely a MUST for a professional footballer - especially goalkeepers these days). His positional sense for both shot-stopping and crosses is excellent, as is his agility and bravery. Physically he is much better balanced than either Culkin or Bosnich and looks more like Raimond in shape - tall, slim and athletic. Although his name is not being mentioned at the moment I have great hopes for the lad; he is only eighteen, very young for a goalkeeper.
Higginbotham...... this lad has already had a couple of games for the first team. Dad and I thought he was excellent when he came on as a substitute against Barnsley a couple of seasons ago and he was absolutely first class in the Worthless Cup match at Villa Park recently. In this latter game he received a real test of his physical strength and courage - he was equal to both. He is a big lad and is good in the air, both defensively and at set pieces. He has good pace and strength and can cross an excellent ball. Finally he is a local (Manchester) lad and that is always a big plus as far as I'm concerned.
O'Shea........ A centre-half who oozes class. To me the real test of a defender is if, at the end of the game, they only need to lightly comb their hair in order to be ready to go out for the night. Duncan and Martin Buchan were that good and Gary Neville is too. That ability not to have to 'break sweat' or be forever on the ground shows real class. In 'shape' he reminds me so much of Alan Hansen in that he runs in a 'knees-pumping', 'arms flailing' sort of way. But like Hansen he always seems to get there and that is a sign that the lad can read the game well. I keep mentioning Hansen because the boy reminds me so much of him. If he proves to be half as good then we have got a gem on our hands. At six foot, three he could be a bit slow (particularly on the turn) but I don't see it that way; he seems pretty quick to me. Plainly that height should make him good in the air - and so he is. All round I think that this lad is a VERY exciting prospect.
Wellens..... I just can't write a piece on promising young lads without making mention of this boy. I like his style so much. He is not that tall (only five-nine) but he is well built and fearless. I like his never-say-die attitude tremendously. I have never seen him play in any game when he has not given one hundred and fifty percent in effort and I really don't think that you can ask any more of any player than that. His best position (in my opinion) is as a ball-winner in midfield. The thing I like about him is that he does recognise his limitations and, having won the ball, is prepared to lay it off to one of the more skillful ball players (if only Butt could do the same!). Another Manchester-born lad who demonstrates that wearing the Red shirt means more than life. I hope so much that this lad makes it - but I'm afraid I don't think he will.
Chadwick....... a left winger with beautiful balance. When looking at a young lad (particularly one who plays wide) I always look for balance on the ball. This kid has lovely ball skills and can beat a man at will. HOWEVER he has a tendency to want to beat one man too many and can end up running down 'blind alleys' and thus achieving less than he ought. Also I feel that there may be a question mark over his mental strength as I have seen him wander inside when he has not been able to beat his full-back. This is a real failing as he is very lightweight and has no chance once he drifts inside and into the path of the opposition midfielders. But I don't want to dwell too much on weakness for the boy possesses great strengths. He can dribble well, as I said, he has good pace and can get to the bye-line. Once there he is capable of crossing well. He must learn tactical awareness and thus maximise his obvious ability. This should come with experience and we may well see a lot more of the kid over the next couple of years.
Notman......... At first I thought that he was definitely NOT going to make it, but since he returned from his loan spell he looks a much better prospect. He is a very tiny lad (at five-seven almost a midget these days!) and this might be considered a disadvantage - however he is well built and brave. Whilst I am reluctant to burden the lad with a 'label' he does remind me of a young Sparky in some respects and Lou in others. His control is good and this is essential for a front man, also his running off the ball and awareness are first class. The other night his 'body shape' caught my eye and I said to my dad that he reminded me so much of Lou Macari and dad immediately agreed. He is a 'gutsy' lad and I like him. Finally he is a 'Jock' and I have always felt that Manchester United need at least one jock in the side - so let us hope that he becomes 'the one'!
Right then, a few of the kids for you to watch out for. As I said at the start of this piece I have rarely been right in 'picking' the stars of the future and I have been watching the Youth and Reserve team games on a regular basis for well over forty years! Normally the ones I disregard go on to be world beaters and the ones I 'fancy' drop into obscurity. I sincerely hope that the above words do not put the 'mockers' on the lads I have have mentioned.
'The Old Fart'
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