Exclusive : Garnacho Could Be ‘Difference Maker’ For United, Says Meulensteen

Former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen says Erik Ten Hag must be careful when assessing the temptation to bring in young players to the first team.

The opening weekend defeat to Brighton followed a series of embarrassing displays at the end of the previous season, suggesting to fatigued supporters that nothing much is to be gained from many of the first-team getting prolonged opportunities again.

And while many have been keen to see United bring in new players, those same supporters have become so frustrated that they would be willing to see some of the young prospects get a chance – starting with James Garner in the middle of the park and Alejandro Garnacho on the wing.

Meulensteen says he can see the logic – but also that he feels the central midfield issue is so pressurised that it might not be in Garner’s best interests.

“Garner had a very good year at Forest so he has some good experience playing in a team pushing for promotion,” he told TalkOfTheDevils exclusively. “Does he have all the skills to walk into this Manchester United midfield and give them what they need? It’s a big ask, especially to put him into a team that everybody knows isn’t firing on all cylinders. If you’re not careful you could destroy the boy and that’s not fair on him.”

“To be clear this is speaking in protection of James. I’m not saying he’s not good enough. I want to also mention Charlie Savage, because I was very impressed with him in pre-season, he has very good awareness, his understanding of the game and his positioning is great, his use of the ball is very good. He always looks to get the ball forward.”

Meulensteen says that Garnacho, as a forward player, is a different case.

“Garnacho, though, he’s a different kind of player,” he says. “He’s a difference-maker. He’s quick, direct, he gets people up. So if I would use any young player, it would probably be Garnacho.”

“There is some excitement about the young players and rightly so but this is a time of great uncertainty at the club. It’s not completely clear about Ronaldo’s future, Erik Ten Hag doesn’t appear to see Marcus as an out-and-out striker.”

“I know a lot of supporters would probably be happy to see a lot of young players in the side and they’d get behind an exciting side of prospects who all want to be there with the right attitude. The thing is that the Premier League has improved in such a broad way that Brighton can come to Old Trafford and win deservedly. They’re not the only ones – you have a lot of teams with good international players. To put all the responsibility on young players wouldn’t be fair – they would learn a lot, for sure, but the price is likely to be high in terms of how it would cost them in the long term.”

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