Charlie McNeill… The next big talent off the Manchester United production line?
September 21st, 2021 | Football
I’m a massive believer in youth development in football. I also like to see the integration of youth players into the first-team set-up as soon as possible. I’m not going to lie and say I don’t enjoy a big transfer saga ending with my club, Manchester United, buying someone of quality like Varane, Sancho or Ronaldo. But I get a lot more satisfaction seeing a youth player come through, get first-team minutes and establish themselves. So as a fan of the youth side of things, I watch pretty much every academy game I can, mainly U23s, to see the state of the team and who I believe could make it as a Manchester United first-team player. Not everyone will make it to the first team, that’s just a fact. But what I would say is this current group of youth players are talented, full of desire and clearly know what Manchester United is about. A lot of them are around seventeen to eighteen years old, which is young for U23s football. There are some as young as sixteen. Because of this, it’s really difficult to pick out standout players. I rate the majority of them and believe they all have bright futures playing football at a good level. The ones I think stand out, some of which I have mentioned in other articles, are Alvaro Fernandez, Shola Shoretire, Hannibal Mejbri, Teden Mengi, Joe Hugill, Charlie Savage and Charlie McNeill. This isn’t even including players who are out on loan like Ethan Galbraith, Brandon Williams, James Garner and Ethan Laird.
In this article I’ve decided to focus on a really exciting prospect who I won’t be surprised to see fast-tracked into the first team. Charlie McNeill.
Having left United as a young boy, McNeill returned to his boyhood club after a goal-filled spell at rivals Manchester City. He’s got some pace, he’s good on the ball, can link up well with teammates, loves playing for United and is clearly a confident lad. His standout attribute by far is his finishing. I remember watching Mason Greenwood around four years ago in the youth team and thinking “This kid could become anything he wants to be”. I’m not comparing the two players as, in my opinion, Mason is a better dribbler and all-round footballer. But the level of finishing for McNeill’s age is scary and it’s up there with Greenwood during his youth days. His finishing is like Greenwood’s in the sense he doesn’t just hit it as hard as he can and try to scrap it over the line, he finishes with precision and the correct amount of power for the position he’s in. He can score off either foot and, like Greenwood, can score from pretty much any angle. Where he is slightly different to Greenwood however is his movement. Greenwood often picks the ball up in pockets of space both centrally and out-wide before dribbling past players and slotting the ball home. And whilst McNeill can do this, he understands his main job is to stay in and around the box and has the movement to get away from defenders to score tap-ins. This is a very impressive skill and one that will only improve with time. So as an all-round striker McNeill is more complete in the sense he can skip past a couple of players and score, but he can also score those tap-ins which you need from your striker. Using movement and getting into those positions can get you 5-10 more goals a season and you can see that’s all McNeill thinks about when he plays… “Goals”…
I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make his first-team debut for the Red Devils over the next couple of seasons. If he keeps improving and doing the right things on and off the pitch, it won’t be a matter of if he makes it – more a matter of when he makes it at the top level of senior football.
Please note: The football articles that feature on this site are being written by Jack Dixon as part of his work experience. He is a teenager and looking for work experience within the football industry. He is currently studying for his media and art A-levels.