The teenage stars from Manchester United are playing a massive role for the club. While that role may not lead to immediate success, each of these young players is getting invaluable experience in the best domestic league in the world. It may be hard for Manchester United fans to take the brunt of the criticism from other Premier League fans. Yet, in the long run, the club will reap the rewards of having players establish themselves at Old Trafford.

Statman Dave provides an in-depth look at statistics regarding the Premier League. He calculated that Manchester United has played 3,637 minutes of teenagers this season. Much of that comes from Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo, two of the brightest young stars in the Premier League. However, Erik ten Hag has also afforded on-field time to the likes of Willy Kambwala and Omari Forson.

Their play this season ranks second across the Premier League in terms of minutes played by teenagers this season. Only Brighton and Hove Albion has used teenagers more often than the Red Devils. For reference, teenagers have played a massive 4,588 minutes this season. However, among the top six teams, Manchester United is miles ahead of other top clubs when it comes to teenagers.

RankClubTeenage minutes in 2023/24
1Manchester United3,637
2Manchester City698
3Aston Villa360
5Tottenham Hotspur56

Early trials for the Manchester United teenager group will provide future promise

The 2023/24 season is largely a write-off for many Manchester United supporters. Inconsistent results both domestically and in European play have led to more disappointment. One win in the club’s last six Premier League games has the club grasping at straws to pull any kind of happiness from this season. That positivity is the young players.

Manchester United can look to its history of giving young players opportunities as a means for optimism. The best players in Manchester United’s history have been home-grown talents, and they guided Manchester United to greatness. The Class of ’92 delivered the first treble in English history. Each of those players emerged as a starting option for Manchester United as teenagers. While they found early success, it was their longevity that allowed Manchester United to stand out.

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Like those players, the current crop of teenagers at Manchester United are far from their prime. However, their technical ability is massively benefiting from taking on elite defenders and attackers regularly. Alejandro Garnacho, for example, made his first appearances with United as a substitute. Now, he is starting every game at Manchester United. That includes each of the last 21 Premier League games. He ranks third in goals this season for United with nine from his position on the wing. His confidence continues to grow despite his age, as seen with one of those nine goals coming via an outrageous overhead kick.

Kobbie Mainoo is also demonstrating a level of comfort in the Manchester United side that is generally reserved for experienced players. Some more brilliant goals out of the midfield have been a much-needed boost for Manchester United. While these two players will continue to develop, they are the salvation for Manchester United as things stand.

Looking to other clubs for hope

Granted, some factors need to work out to allow Manchester United to take that next step. Time is one, as other young teenagers may not have the technical ability and poise in major games like Mainoo and Garnacho. At the same time, the myriad of off-field issues at Manchester United need resolution, but perhaps Sir Jim Ratcliffe can steer the club in the right direction.

Erik ten Hag has given these players the opportunity, and the Dutchman faces stark criticism from fans and pundits alike for how the last two seasons have unfolded. Yet, United can look to rival Arsenal as a means to stick with ten Hag and these teenagers. Arsenal struggled for years to move on from Arsene Wenger. Eventually, it rose with the generally unproven Mikel Arteta and his youthful revolution at the Emirates. Arsenal trusted players like Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka. Now, they are two of the best players in the Premier League. Consequently, Arsenal is in contention in the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League, a major contrast to where it was in year two under Arteta when the Gunners finished eighth in the league.

That may seem like a distant dream now for Manchester United. However, the club can count on these teenagers