Manchester United have a knack for producing generational midfield talents and ‘La Carrington’ shows no signs of slowing down right now, with another local lad on the horizon and ready to step up.
Many will be scratching their heads, desperate for United to take a breather after churning out the likes of Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo in recent seasons, but after years of turmoil and unforgettable flops, a hot streak at academy level is long overdue.
There’s a plethora of young talent on the books at United right now. Mainoo and Garnacho are already some of the first names on Erik ten Hag’s team sheet, Joe Hugill is very quickly turning into a fully grown man-beast at just 20 years old on his loan spell to Burton, and Dan Gore has just secured a loan of his own to Port Vale.
Will they all make it at Old Trafford? Probably not. But if they can all go on to enjoy careers as professional footballers worldwide, then that’s a pretty impressive feat in itself.
We as fans have got to escape the shackles that bound us to thinking that every crop of promising youngsters must emulate the success of the Class of ’92. It’s simply not possible.
What we could get, though, is a new supergroup of lads local to United who possess an unbearable amount of talent, breaking through in a similar style to Evolution in WWE, mixing in with their first-team colleagues and potentially becoming unstoppable.
The latest member of our imaginary faction – and one that could surprise a few – is 18-year-old Ethan Williams, who is by all accounts an ordinary lad, but possesses feet capable of extraordinary things.
Born in 2005, Williams only actually joined United in 2019 from Rochdale, linking up with the Red Devils at under-14 level and quickly honing his craft to be most deadly from the left flank.
Already in 2023-24, Williams has scored 10 times across under-18 and under-21 level, featuring seven times in the under-21 Premier League 2 competition; a testament to his rapid development.
He trained with Ten Hag’s first-team earlier in the season – before even turning 18 – but has spent the time since building up his stock and – crucially – putting together a highlight reel of his most freakish superpower.
Williams is outrageously two-footed. Sure, most professional footballers can play off both feet. But there’s playing off both feet and being able to skin a defender and smash one top bins with either foot, leaving the opposition bemused as to which side is supposed to be weaker.
Ethan Williams’ ball striking off both feet is pretty unique pic.twitter.com/Dprr1kHWVE
— academyarena Utd (@academyarenaUTD) February 3, 2024
Good grief. Not only is the 18-year-old proving that he can operate at levels above his own age group, his versatility shines through in the form of a devastating agility and technical ability.
One of football’s biggest and most unique cheat codes, being able to strike the ball with such accuracy off either foot is a tool that could see Williams hot-shotted into Ten Hag’s first team before long.
With four goals and four assists from six under-18 Premier League games already and a further three goal contributions in the UEFA Youth League, it’s not just the eye test that Williams is passing.
A local lad with the ability of a potential world beater, it’s exactly the calibre of player United should be looking to integrate as they head into a new era fuelled by youth and courage.
Sending Williams out on a loan would seem like the sensible next step, but with such a unique trait, it’s easy to see him becoming an asset for Ten Hag if the dominoes fall accordingly.
The Dutch coach appears to have found a settled front three in Garnacho, Rasmus Hojlund and Marcus Rashford, but with Antony now out of favour and criticised for his predictability and Facundo Pellistri out on loan, there is undoubtedly a spot up for grabs around the squad.
If you’re good enough, you’re old enough. Mainoo and Garnacho are proving it, but Williams has the potential to be the next one to emerge.
By Mitch Wilks