A lethal display of finishing by Manchester United youngster James Wilson ensured that the Reds' reserve team defeated Manchester City’s Elite Development Squad on Thursday night in the Manchester Senior Cup final.
A big future has been predicted for the England under-19 forward, particularly since his dream debut last season when he scored a brace of goals in a 3-1 United victory over Hull City. He will surely have been disappointed not to have been included in Louis Van Gaal’s squad for the pre-season tour of the United States.
With such an eye-catching performance against City—he scored all four goals in United’s 4-1 win—he will most likely have had his new manager taking note.
As the match progressed, Patrick Vieira’s City side looked the more composed and certainly in control in the first half, which would have pleased the onlooking Manuel Pellegrini. They took the lead in the 16th minute thanks to Jordi Hiwula’s tap-in and looked good for a half-time lead.
Excellent first half at Hyde, City EDS look very sharp, Seko Fofano (as always) #mcfc 1-1 though at ht,late Utd equaliser!— Ian Cheeseman (@IanCheeseman) August 7, 2014
Wilson had different ideas, though. His driving run from midfield on the stroke of half-time finished with him powering the ball past City goalkeeper Angus Gunn to square things up.
Both that goal and the variety of finishes displayed in his second-half hat-trick served to highlight several skills.
While obviously prolific, Wilson is not only a goalmouth predator. He's blessed with pace and is comfortable on the ball. He is naturally left footed—but adept with both feet, composed in one-on-one situations, can play anywhere along the front line—and he is rightly creating ripples of excitement among United supporters:
James Wilson keeps knocking on that first team squad door; trying not to get too excited, etc, blah, but he looks exceptional talent.— Barney @Red News (@barneyrednews) August 7, 2014
James Wilson has scored 28 goals in his last 31 games, at all levels, for United ~ really hope he has a place in Van Gaals squad this season— Darren (@thedevilstweets) August 8, 2014
Wilson told MUTV after the game that he hoped he will have impressed Van Gaal. "I do hope so. I showed him what I can do tonight," Wilson said, via Manutd.com's Adam Marshall. "Hopefully I can get the call-up to do it for the new gaffer as well."
Meanwhile, reserve team coach Warren Joyce was clearly hoping to keep his young charge's feet on the ground: "There are a lot of things he can still improve on but he wants to do that and he can do it this year," per MUTV (h/t Marshall).
Louis van Gaal has a track record of giving young players a chance to shine in his teams. During United’s tour of the US, Mark Ogden wrote in The Telegraph that the United manager had insisted he would build for the long-term future at the club. If James Wilson continues such progress, he ought to play a big part in that future.