Ten Hag wanted to promote Kobbie Mainoo to Man Utd first-team way before Everton

Erik ten Hag looked on as his medical staff helped Kobbie Mainoo hobble off the pitch at the NRG Stadium in Houston and there was a serious sense of deflation for the Dutchman.

To outsiders, an 18-year-old who had never started a Premier League game picking up an ankle injury in a pre-season game in July was merely a footnote amid the usual summer splurging of cash in the transfer market. But for the Manchester United manager and his coaching staff it was seen as a headline loss of what Bruno Fernandes called a ‘special’ player after his side’s win over Everton.

Ten Hag had watched Mainoo dominate in midfield a few days earlier against Arsenal and had started to ponder about the Stockport-born teenager becoming a focal point in his midfield. With the transfer budget no longer limitless thanks to United’s flirting with profit and sustainability rules in England and Europe, Ten Hag was keen to promote youth into midfield.

READ MORE: Man Utd's Kobbie Mainoo at centre of international fight for England and Gareth Southgate

READ MORE: Marcus Rashford suffered family tragedy shortly before Man Utd match at Everton

The Dutchman wasn’t sure yet. He needed to see more and one performance against the Gunners in a friendly wasn’t enough. But he watched the U21 performances and saw plenty in training that was starting to convince him that Mainoo could be a partner for Casemiro in midfield.

Then an accidental clash with Real Madrid star Rodrigo saw those potential plans ripped up. As midfield became a clear problem in their early-season struggles, the Dutchman’s thoughts turned to integrating the talented teenager as soon as he was fit.

Can Kobbie Mainoo save Manchester United's season? Have your say in the comments section below

United had planned to sign another midfielder after the arrival of Mason Mount with Sofyan Amrabat earmarked but now there was more pressure to land him. But if there was any indication about Ten Hag’s belief in Mainoo is that it was his name on the team sheet at Everton on Sunday over the summer signing from Fiorentina and he delivered a performance beyond his 18 years.

“I think he’s a special player too,” said United captain Fernandes, who had turned his attention to Mainoo after heaping praise on Alejandro Garnacho following his wonder goal against the Toffees.

“What he puts on the game, what he gives to the team, it's known to anyone [in the squad]. I think he has great players in front of him to learn [from] because he plays with one of the best in the world like Casemiro.

“He wants he wants to learn, is eager to learn and I think that's probably the best capability he has because he wants to learn every time. He's eager to listen to everyone to get better and better.”

As attention turns to Galatasaray and the ‘Welcome to Hell’ atmosphere United will face on Wednesday, it will be interesting to see if the United boss believes Mainoo can handle that heat.

There is excitement within Carrington about the England underage starlet but there is also caution about the seriousness of the injury. They are also wary that there have been more than one youngster emerge with hype in the past and yet fail to deliver consistently and, at such a young age, there needs to be realistic targets set.

Get your ultimate World Darts Championship 2024 preview here

It's the most wonderful time of the year – and we've got the perfect magazine to get you in the Ally Pally spirit!

With this year's PDC World Darts Championship set to be another thriller, Daily Star Sport have prepared your ultimate 48-page preview magazine to get you ready for all things arrows.

From interviews with Grand Slam of Darts champion Luke Humphries and former world champions Gary Anderson and Rob Cross to in depth features on the PDC's angriest moments and why they start on 501 – we've got you covered.

Order yours to buy immediately right here!

One performance doesn’t make a star, which can also be said for Garnacho even if the Argentina ace is starting to put a catalogue together with Sunday’s stunning overhead kick the best moment yet.
“It's amazing – something out of this world, I think,” said Fernandes. “Probably he’s watching too much Cristiano [Ronaldo] clips! We all know that he's a big fan.

“Still a long way for him to be like Cristiano but he's getting his steps. He wants to be something special in the world of football and I think he has the capability to do that, but he has to do more than that goal!”

Source: Read Full Article