Why Kobbie Mainoo is the second coming of Paul Scholes
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Why Kobbie Mainoo is the second coming of Paul Scholes

29/02/24 06:29

What were you doing at the age of 18? Becuase Kobbie Mainoo is being scouted by Gareth Southgate for the England squad, as one of Man Utd’s most essential players. Yes that’s right, this kid is just 7 months older than the Xbox 360.

But in all seriousness, Mainoo’s performances this season have been excellent.

Against Luton in United’s 2-1 victory away from home a few weeks ago, the youngster completed 6 dribbles, the most by a player at the club since Paul Pogba in 2022. That’s more completed in that fixture than the whole of his teammates combined. When considering the amount they've spent on players in recent years with the goal of achieving exactly those numbers, the significance of Mainoo is staggering.

If United want to progress the ball up the pitch, Mainoo is the kid to do it.

Sitting just in front of the centre halves, Mainoo acts as a pivot for Ten Hag’s side. Across the world of football, that position is not an easy one, let alone if you’re 18.

Not many players have the confidence and ability to ask for the ball, take that touch, turn and move it up the pitch, and sometimes taking out 3 opposition players in the process - this man has technical ability.

This 18-year-old takes the pressure off other players in the United squad, to allow moves to actually progress.

There was a time when Manchester United desperately struggled with progressing the ball forward. A game against Arsenal in 2020, when it was especially noticeable. It was January, and then Sporting Lisbon star Bruno Fernandes was yet to make the switch to England. The Gunners ended up as 2-0 winners, but the loss wasn’t the main concern. It was the fact that Harry Maguire, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's central defender, was the only one on the pitch creating chances. That might sound wildly confusing these days, but it was the Englishman that was threading any kind of a deadly pass through the Arsenal defence. Of course the Portuguese international did help with the issue, but he cost £47 million. And Maguire £80 million. Mainoo coming through the youth academy, a player that can help this problem, is a massive help.

With Sir Jim Ratcliffe now in the building, Mainoo could be one of the most important parts in rebuilding Manchester United. When we think back to some of the most successful teams over the last 30 years of European football, a recent youth graduate that has the ability to compete with the rest of the senior players, is often at the heart of the squad. Sergio Busquets for example, came through the Barcelona academy in 2008 and went on to become one of the best holding midfielders the world has ever seen. Paul Scholes at Manchester United in the 90s, Steven Gerrard at Liverpool. A list that could go on and on, costing their clubs nothing in the process.

But there have been players in Manchester that weren’t given the best treatment in the rise to the top. In which case, costing the Red Devils a lot of money. Paul Pogba was a talent missed by Sir Alex Ferguson, but imagine he never left for Juventus. Imagine the success he would have had in England if he stayed with United for all those years. He of course went on to be an important player for them. But certainly didn’t reach the heights he was supposed to. If Mainoo is left alone, given the game time he deserves and not pushed to one side, he could be Manchester United's next Paul Scholes.

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