Erik ten Hag has shown his propensity to give youth a chance during his days as Ajax manager. And that trend has continued at Manchester United as well, with the Dutchman giving a host of youngsters a run out in the four pre-season games so far.
Of all the youth products, it was Charlie Savage and Zidane Iqbal who impressed the new manager the most. From strutting their stuff against the likes of Fabinho, Thiago Alcântara and Naby Keïta in challenging Bangkok conditions to maintain a down-to-earth persona off the field, the pair have certainly come a long way.
And The Times have reported that Ten Hag will have a meeting with Darren Fletcher, the technical director, who also focuses on the pathway between academy, under-23 side and first team, regarding the pair.
The Dutch manager knows this season is unlike others at his former club and he is expected to deliver results so youngsters getting consistent minutes might not be that forthcoming.
Erik ten Hag was impressed by the way Charlie Savage and Zidane Iqbal took their chances in preseason and will discuss them this week with Darren Fletcher on whether/where to send the pair on loan. [@henrywinter] #mufc
— The United Stand (@UnitedStandMUFC) July 27, 2022
Discussions on whether a loan spell is the best outcome or whether development at the club through training and occasional Cup games is the best way forward will be the topic of discussion.
There are other contenders in the fray as well as James Garner, who was tipped to finally make the breakthrough at United and Ethan Laird, another player who had a couple of fruitful loan stints.
Garner will feel unlucky after suffering an injury during pre-season which stopped him from impressing the new boss.
Old Trafford a chance to stake claim?
In the same report, it is mentioned that Ten Hag will take his strongest 18 players to Oslo to play Atletico Madrid while a weakened side which includes academy graduates like Savage and Iqbal will get a chance to prove their worth against Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford.
The manager has already indicated that to the midfield pair that “they are at the start of their journey and hard work is key to their development.” And both have been following their manager’s advice quite diligently.
In order to succeed at a club the size of United, mental and physical strength are a must as is the will to improve. During lockdown, Savage had set up a gym in his parents’ garage to work on building up his strength as that is something he is lacking at the moment.
That is not all, he has also been studying tapes of how Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick operated while playing in his favored role.
Despite excelling in a more advanced role, Iqbal has shown a willingness to adapt to his manager’s needs and has played a deeper role which calls for patience and restraint and has excelled.
And even if the pair do not manage to make their way into Ten Hag’s thoughts for the coming season, their overall attitude to the game and life have ensured that their temporary spell away from the club will begin at a higher level — most likely in the Championship.
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