With virtually nothing left to play for this season and aware his job will indeed be a temporary one, interim manager Ryan Giggs decided to grant a start to two of United's brightest young prospects against Hull City, Tom Lawrence and James Wilson.
And even on a night when Giggs likely played his final game in front of the Old Trafford faithful, it was Wilson who stole the show in United's 3-1 win.
Playing just 63 minutes, the youngster notched a brace for the Red Devils, a magnificent debut for the club. From Squawka Football:
GOL! GOL! GOL! It's a dream debut for young James Wilson. His second goal of the night on his Man Utd debut. pic.twitter.com/Okmie4DT1r— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 6, 2014
It turns out, bright debuts are simply par for the course, as Paul Carr of ESPN notes:
18-year-old James Wilson scores on his Man United debut. He also scored on his United U-18 debut at age 15.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) May 6, 2014
As ESPN FC points out, it wasn't just quite the night for Wilson, but quite the year:
18-year-old James Wilson has scored for @ManUtd's U18, U19, U21 and First Teams in the same season.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 6, 2014
WILSON AGAIN! What a debut! 2 goals at Old Trafford. He'll remember this for the rest of his life.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 6, 2014
18-year-old James Wilson comes off for van Persie amid chants of "Wilson for England."— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 6, 2014
As you might expect, fans, pundits and former players alike were delighted with Wilson's performance. Gary Neville chimed in:
Dream Debut! Delighted with that!— Gary Neville (@GNev2) May 6, 2014
As did Gary Lineker:
Love seeing our young talent given a chance. They're denied all too often. Great that James Wilson rewarded Giggs' faith in him.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) May 6, 2014
Wilson turned out to be quite the poacher on the evening, as Squawka Football noted:
Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised by this performance. Manchester United's former U-19 coach and now-assistant under Giggs Nicky Butt talked about Wilson in an interview with Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe back in March:
Wilson is very explosive, an out-and-out goalscorer with good pace and he's good size, too. At 6'2", he'll be a big strong boy in a few years' time.
He's still only 19, but he's one that, if he keeps his head down, could be a superstar in a few years. He's got a lot of work to do yet, but he could be as good as...anyone who's played for this club in a long, long time.
Marouane Fellaini set up both goals. Wilson struck first in the 31st minute off a set piece, as Fellaini headed the ball to him in the middle of the box, where the youngster cooly finished. The second was less intentionally set up by Fellaini, as his shot on the counter-attack was saved by Eldin Jakupovic but deflected right to Wilson, who again found the back of the net.
For his efforts, WhoScored.com gave him an average match rating of 8.0 on the evening. Of course, Lawrence wasn't chopped liver either, earning a 7.0 mark. Plus, he had the distinction of being subbed out for Giggs in the 70th minute, as Squawka Football mentioned:
One would imagine Lawrence would remember that moment forever. Remember, Giggs himself was once a Wilson or Lawrence, as Bleacher Report UK suggests:
Like Wilson, Lawrence is a player worth keeping an eye on. He certainly showed marked improvement throughout this season, as OptaJoe tweeted:
2 - Both of Tom Lawrence's league goals for Yeovil came in his last six appearances for the club. Growth.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 6, 2014
After the match, even Giggs hinted at what might be to come, per Squawka:
"Keep supporting us. You've seen a glimpse of the future tonight. The good times will come back." - Ryan Giggs— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 6, 2014
Both players handled themselves quite nicely in their United debuts. Wilson's brace is obviously a moment to remember, and he's a player who could have a very bright future. Of course, with all the attacking talent at United we may not see him playing for the Red Devils anytime soon, but he should be off on loan somewhere soon.
Ditto for Lawrence, who may yet be buried under United's slew of attacking midfielders for a few years but also appears to have a bright future. Perhaps on a night when one of United's favorite sons, Giggs, took what was likely his final bow in front of the Old Trafford faithful, a pair of future stars helped to turn the page on a new chapter in United history.