Manchester United has had a tough season. We went in with hopes of a title challenge and even after an impressive away win last night we’re still seventh in the table.

The defeat to Wolves two weeks ago left the club in a somber spell. It was the worst start to 2022, with a first loss to Ralf Rangnick.

It sparked a lot of introspection, with followers fed up with years of false dawns. Players struggled to buy in under Rangnick and that season began to feel lost.

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It has improved a bit as United were expected to win two games and draw the other, a game the team should have won.

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Today, United feels less like the empty shell of a former giant and more like a club with potential to rise again.

Key to the optimism came from the club’s academy stars, who assume a key responsibility in leading the way.

Anthony Elanga has been in the starting XI for the last two games and opened the scoring in the win over Brentford. He was excellent and really took his chance.

Elanga’s goal came on the same night that Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford both broke their scoring droughts. Hitting three academy players in one game is a rare feat for most clubs but the type United are used to.

Former academy star Scott McTominay also pulled the strings in midfield, and there’s more to come.

The likes of Hannibal and Shola Shoretire could still play a role this season, while Ethan Laird, Teden Mengi, Alvaro Fernandez, Marc Jurado, Charlie Savage, Zidane Iqbal, Isak Hansen-Aaroen and Charlie McNeill are also hoping to follow in Elanga’s footsteps .

Academy bears fruit when United need it most

The academy has given United a crucial boost when the club needs it most. At a time when fans have felt their rock bottom for years, there is hope again.

Winning the two games in a row United can be just three points behind third-placed Chelsea. All is far from lost.

United have an enviable academy record of having a youth player called up to the matchday squad for more than 10,000 consecutive games, dating back to before the Second World War. That’s a record that won’t go away anytime soon.

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The academy is key to United’s identity. Just when the club needed a reminder of the way forward, United’s core values ​​provided exactly what was needed. Belief in local talent helps Ralf Rangnick and will continue to do so.

There are no guarantees of future silverware but United have a platform to build on again and if the club is successful there will be homegrown players lifting trophies along with big money stars and that will make success that much sweeter do.

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