Man Utd Under-23s lost their opening league game of the season but it’s been a week to remember for attacker Anthony Elanga regardless
As Manchester United’s Under-23s struggled to break down a strong Leicester side at Leigh Sports Village on Monday night there was one player who was a thorn in the side.
Injury ended his campaign early last term, just as he was on the verge of making the step up to the U23s having impressed at U18s level. Despite the layoff and subsequent lockdown he’s come back firing.
Against Salford City in the EFL Trophy last week he was impeccable; his movement, pace and work rate caused the League Two side problems all night. And his goal, United’s sixth of the evening, drew comparisons to Thierry Henry from former Red Devils captain Gary Neville, who was on commentary duty in the stands.
The way he hugged the line on the left, drifted inside, created space for himself and then curled the ball into the far corner was reminiscent of the great Frenchman’s finesse. And it’s not just the eye of opposition defenders Elanga has caught.
The forward was promoted to the first-team squad for the first time for the 1-0 friendly defeat against Aston Villa on Saturday, coming off the bench in the second half and he has a place in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad firmly in his sights.
“What you see there is a boy that sees the light of the first team and wants to get there and he’s going to work every day to try and get himself in it,” U23s manager Neil Wood said.
On a night when United could not impose themselves on a strong Leicester side, he was again a standout amongst a sea of teenage talent looking to make their mark.
This season is going to be a tough ask for an inexperienced U23s side who are more like an U19 team in their age profile. James Garner, who is still waiting to go out on loan, was the most experienced player in United’s starting XI, with Teden Mengi with the first team, Ethan Laird missing through an injury he picked up last week and Dylan Levitt securing his loan to Charlton Athletic.
“A speedball down the left,” the Leicester television commentator described 18-year-old attacker Anthony Elanga as he warned the Foxes’ fans of the danger to come from the teenager on the flank.
Any Manchester United fan sitting down to watch the club’s opening fixture in Premier League 2 Division One would likely be already aware of his threat.