Man Utd veterans still key as Solskjaer pulls up kids who ‘think they know it’

Date published: Saturday 10th July 2021 7:58 - Neil Foster

Mason Greenwood; Juan Mata TEAMtalk

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has urged the club’s youngsters to stay grounded and use a trio of senior stars as examples of how to conduct themselves.

The Red Devils have always tried to promote youth and the current regime is no different. Nine academy graduates have made their top-flight debut while the Norwegian tactician has been at the helm. They are Tahith Chong, James Garner, Mason Greenwood, Brandon Williams, Dean Henderson, Shola Shoretire, Anthony Elanga, Will Fish and Hannibal Mejbri.

But it is also important to have experience in the ranks and United seem to have the balance right at the moment. They enjoyed a solid campaign in 2020-2021, finishing second to Manchester City in the Premier League.

The north-west giants were also runners-up to Villarreal in the Europa League. But it is silverware the fans crave and the crop of youngsters at Solskjaer’s disposal seem capable of delivering.

However, the Scandinavian does not want his young stars to get too big for their boots.

And he cited the likes of veterans Juan Mata, Lee Grant and new signing Tom Heaton as examples of model professionals.

“We have the professionals that can be an example day in and day out,” he told the club’s official website. “Our young lads think they know it because we bring them up through the Academy and they do learn good habits.

“But then they come into the first team and see World Cup winners like Juan and the way he conducts himself, even if he doesn’t play.

“So [they are] good examples and Lee, as well, knows he’s got good goalkeepers ahead of him but the example he sets is something we have to reward them [for] and it makes the group better, and they’re still good players.”

Solskjaer glad to have Heaton on board

Heaton began his career at Old Trafford but did not make a senior appearance. He was loaned out to clubs such as Swinson Town, Cardiff City, Rochdale and Wycombe Wanderers.

He found his home at Burnley, making 200 appearances for the Clarets. A short stint at Aston Villa followed but he is now back at the Theatre of Dreams. And Solskjaer could not be happier.

Tom Heaton pic via Manchester United

“He’s had a very, very good career so far and been a part of the England set-up,” he added. “For him to come in now, taking his challenge, I think is what he needed, that last step now.

“He’s such a top professional and such a top guy to have around and that will help the young lads.”

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