The youngsters discussed at length about several important experiences in the Red Devils’ academy.

Manchester United boast of a brilliant academy that has prouced several exceptional talents over the years. Their current crop of youngsters are highly rated and fans cannot wait for them to be inducted into the senior setup. 

In a recent interaction with Khel Now, Manchester United U-18s defender William Fish spoke about about his experience training in the academy, ambitions and more, along with U-23 players, defender Reece Devine and goalkeeper Matej Kovar.

William Fish on stepping up to challenge

Since Teden Mengi was sent out on loan to Derby County under the management of club legend Wayne Rooney, William Fish was promoted to the U-23s team. Speaking on how big a challenge it was for him, he said, “It’s been tough at times, because we have got to make a back four out of whoever we had available. Not having a partner there every week can be a bit tough, to get into swing of things.

“I think it’s been a good challenge. Obviously, still quite young in the U-23s, so it’s a good experience for the future,” he added.

Fish was born and brought up in Manchester

Mancunian Pride

Fish was born and brought up in Manchester. Being a local and playing for the youth teams of Manchester United has been a thing of pride for the 18-year-old.

“Yes, obviously you always play with that pride and passion, you always want to win. Especially, supporting United all my life, its got that extra bit inside that makes you want to win more,” he expressed. 

Matej Kovar on loan spell at Swindon Town

Matej Kovar was sent out on loan to EFL League One side Swindon Town, where he made 20 appearances for the club. Sharing his experience of playing there, he revealed, “It’s totally different, playing men’s football there is a lot of difference like, its quicker, more strength. So, the first few games were a bit hard for me, but I got used to it. I take it (the loan spell) as a big part of my experience. I really enjoyed that and it’s been good.”

Kovar feels his loan stint at Swindon Town was a huge part of his experience

Time in lockdown

Reflecting on the lockdown which stopped all footballing activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kovar revealed how he was able to keep himself occupied in a tough period.

“I went back to Czech Republic, I was able to train with a coach. So, I always try to keep myself fit because you never know when you might get a call-up. I was just trying to train as much as I can and be ready for whenever they call us back.”

Reece Devine on ‘United We Play’ initiative 

‘United We Play’ is an initiative in association with Apollo Tyres, which sees MUFC football school coaches engage with budding players from India. Speaking on the initiative, Reece quipped, “We try and inspire, we just play and try to do our best, to perform. We know people do look up to us and we appreciate that.

“It has been really great in encouraging young footballing talent and give them a platform to showcase their skills,” he added.

Devine thinks the impact of ‘United We Play’ initiative has been huge

“The main objectives of the programme are to engage with aspiring footballers, motivate them and expose them to global training methodologies, covering important aspects of the game such technical, tactical, physical, and psychosocial skills like leadership and teamwork.

“The impact of exposure to training initiatives like ‘United We Play’ on the development of young players is really huge. It is about creating unique opportunities like the interaction with the U-18s and using digital platforms for this, to give players from semi-urban and rural areas the same opportunities as players from urban areas,” he further added.

Change in roles

Reece Devine was one of the few Manchester United players who had to shift to a changed role following loan moves of several players. From being a left-back to featuring in a central role, Reece shared how different and important the change was.

“Its a great learning curve because it shows versatility, you can play in (different) positions and if someone gets an injury, I have to fill in and play there.”

Motivation to breakthrough into senior setup

Reflecting on the prospect of being motivated to feature for the senior team, after seeing teammates like Shola Shoretire and Amad Diallo make their debuts for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men, William Fish added, “If you’re journeying with them, day in and day out, playing games with them and they get called up, you can start to see that the pathway is there.

“There is a chance there, if the manager believes in you, then you keep working hard and I don’t see why not,” the defender concluded.

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