Goal-scoring hero Marcus Rashford and his defensive colleague Timothy Fosu-Mensah were standout performers in Manchester United’s FA Cup quarter-final win over West Ham, showing the future is particularly bright at Old Trafford.
On the whole, the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era has taken on a gloomy, directionless feel. Whatever the Red Devils’ final judgement of Louis van Gaal, though, even his biggest detractors must concede credit for the ballsy way the Dutchman has blooded youth.
With six goals in 11 games since answering the call, Rashford is undoubtedly the star of the new wave LVG has granted their big break.
Calls for the 18-year-old local lad to be whisked off to the Euros may be foolhardy, but if he continues to find the corner of the net with such precision in the coming years, an international career seems inevitable.
In fact Ladbrokes have just released a special which makes it a 33/1 shot Rashford goes onto eclipse Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time United scoring record, or that of Wayne Rooney’s should he surpass it as is most likely.
Although Rashford’s position on the pitch will ensure the headlines, Fosu-Mensah and the likes of fellow defender Cameron Borthwick-Jackson have also excelled when given exposure this season.
Another huge success story is 23-year-old former United trainee Jesse Lingard, who has become a fixture in the team under Van Gaal despite being farmed out to Championship clubs for most of his Red Devils career prior to this season.
Midfielders Andreas Pereira (20), Joe Riley (19), James Weir (20) and 17-year-old Reegan Poole have all crossed the white line for their first-team debuts this season, even if only for a few minutes.
Northern Ireland international centre-half Paddy McNair has also remained on the fringes and the Euros-bound 20-year-old will only grow better for the experience of a major tournament.
Although not a player brought through the ranks, rather signed for a humungous fee, Anthony Martial is showing signs that it was £38m well spent.
Comparisons to the greatest crop of academy graduates ever to grace the Old Trafford turf are still wildly premature, though the strength of Manchester United’s present youth setup is outstanding it would seem.
It may not be a coincidence that Ryan Giggs, arguably the best of the aforementioned golden generation, is Van Gaal’s right-hand man.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.