The Future Is Theirs

In the last week, the drive of Manchester United has been under intense scrutiny, but those questions should be put to bed following Sir Alex Ferguson’s next generation extending the club’s unbeaten run to 21 matches.

Despite throwing away the lead twice, United are through to the next round of the Carling Cup after theatrically beating Wolverhampton 3-2, and the character of some of their future stars to thank for that.

Javier Hernandez is going to receive the majority of plaudits for proving to be the difference and scoring the game winning goal, and rightfully so, but there were a couple of other players that were equally as impressive.

However, no one should overlook the contributions made by Bébé and Chris Smalling, because they both played worthy parts in United’s dramatic victory.

With the entire football media licking their lips in hopes to finally get one over on Ferguson, Bébé put in an impressive Man of the Match performance as he was the best player on the pitch for 80 minutes.

The media has already made some scathing, unfounded attacks on the player, because he came from, quite literally, nothing to Old Trafford.

The former homeless orphan is as raw of a talent as they come, but Bébé, showed great character, as he probably has his entire life to get where he is, because the bulbs were always going to be flashing on his every move.

It might have been sheer ignorance, but he came through his first real media-spotlight test smelling like a budding rose.

The Portuguese forward stands 6’4″ tall, so he is very easy for each member of the ABU media to pick out, but the pace he showed at times was quicker than their little fingers could type.

Bébé’s crossing was a little bit anxious at times, but he showed good skill to give himself the yard he needed to get the cross in – and one of those crosses earned the winger his first United goal as well.

The sporadic array of his passing, whether he meant or not, caused Wolves all sorts of issues and should have led to at least one or two goals.

Smalling, the lesser documented of Ferguson three summer signings, was very cool on the ball when challenged by the front men from Wolverhampton.

Despite being part of the defense that conceded two needless goals, Smalling was a rock during the first-half and very positive when making a pass.

Seen as the immediate successor to Rio Ferdinand, Smalling looks to be ahead of his central defensive partner, Jonny Evans.

Also standing 6’4″, the England U21 international should be disappointed to have not won more balls from set-pieces especially the one that George Elokobi headed in from close range for Wolves first goal.

However, there were two disappointing performances and one of them came from a player that Ferguson has called the next superstar at Old Trafford.

Federico Macheda was very inconsistent, and look irritated throughout, so it was disappointing from the young center forward.

With so many forwards at the club competing for places, he may lose his spot and be left out in the cold when it comes to future first-team chances.

The problem with this is that Ferguson said that his attitude prevents him from going out on loan, which if he does not get in the first-team he could become disinterested, but more concerning, it could stunt his growth as a player.

That same attitude, though, allows Kiko to ignore the pressure of playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world, and his finishing is something that would be missed if he ever left.

However, the performance of Ben Amos was the most alarming performance, because it shows that Sir Alex needs to not only invest in a first-choice goalkeeper when Edwin van der Sar calls it a day, but a back-up one as well.

The lack of command, concentration and weakness in the air were very evident in his performance against Wolves.

Yes, Amos is very young – especially for a goalkeeper – but it looks as though he has way too many limitations to make him a top-class goalkeeper, which is definitely needed at Old Trafford.

In the first-half, and under no pressure, Amos lost the ball underneath him, and if Sylvan Ebanks-Blake was a better forward he would have punished his former club.

Overall, it was an exciting performance from the young players, which, after all was said that last week about the future of Manchester United, was encouraging to see that the determination is still there at the club.

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