Where are they now? The six kids given Man Utd debuts by Mourinho
Despite being criticised for not promoting youth at Manchester United, Jose Mourinho still offered a number of academy graduates first-team opportunities.
United finished sixth and second in Mourinho’s two full seasons at Old Trafford, also winning the League Cup and Europa League in 2016-17.
We’ve looked at the six academy players he handed debuts to, to see how their respective careers have developed since.
At United since the age of eight, Tuanzebe first appeared as a second-half substitute in a 4–0 FA Cup victory over Wigan in January 2017.
The centre-back made another seven appearances under Mourinho before enjoying two loan spells at Aston Villa, the second of which he helped the club win promotion from the Championship.
Injuries have halted his progress and Tuanzebe failed to make much impression at Villa and Napoli last season. He’s back with his parent club now but has been sidelined all season and is yet to make an appearance under Erik ten Hag. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him leave the club in 2023.
Pereira made the first of three senior appearances under Mourinho against Wigan in January 2017, replacing Sergio Romero in the 80th minute.
“We have a third goalkeeper that I think will be the best Portuguese goalkeeper of the next generation so anyone in goal I trust completely,” Mourinho said in 2017.
The 26-year-old left United in the summer of 2021 and is currently turning out for Eredivisie club RKC Waalwijk, albeit rarely. His only appearance this season was a 6-1 defeat to NEC Nijmegen.
Mourinho gave McTominay his debut in May 2017 as a substitute against Arsenal and even awarded the midfielder his ‘Manager’s Player Of The Year’ award in 2018.
“Jose is very special to me. He still keeps in contact with me now and keeps in touch after some games,” McTominay told Sky Sports in 2019.
“He’ll always have a special place in mine and my family’s heart because he’s the one who brought you in, he was the one who trusted you, he was the one who had belief in you.
“I owe a tremendous amount of credit to him because if it wasn’t for him I might not necessarily be sitting in this seat.”
He’s now approaching his 200th appearance for his boyhood club, although since the arrival of Casemiro he faces more of a fight to get into Ten Hag’s favoured XI.
Happy 26th birthday to our very own Scott McTominay. 🎉
This is a perfect opportunity to relive his best moment in a United shirt, just pure elation. 🤩 #MUFC
— Stretford Paddock (@StretfordPaddck) December 8, 2022
Mitchell made his United debut against Crystal Palace in 2017 as Mourinho rested the majority of the first team ahead of their Europa League final victory over Ajax.
“I have to pay respect to Jose,” Mitchell told Edinburghlive in 2019. “He gave me my United debut so he has been an important figure in my career. He took me on tour twice with the United first team and I learned a lot under his management.
“He’s a good person. He’s not always how you see him portrayed in the press. Behind closed doors, you get a totally different character.”
He was unable to add to that one appearance and had two separate loan spells with Scottish side Hearts before missing the entire 2019-20 season with a knee injury.
The 25-year-old was released by United in 2020 and joined Blackpool on a two-year deal. He now plays for Hibernian and scored on his debut for the Scottish side in January 2022.
Harrop marked his United debut with the opening goal in their 2-0 win over Palace but that proved to be his one and only appearance for the club.
Despite being offered a new deal at Old Trafford, he decided to join Championship side Preston North End in order to play more first-team football.
The 27-year-old has struggled with injuries over the last three years but scored eight goals in 36 appearances for the Lilywhites in 2019-20. He’s since spent the second half of the previous two campaigns on loan at League One clubs Ipswich Town and Fleetwood Town respectively.
His contract was terminated by mutual consent in the summer and he’s just signed for promotion-chasing Northampton Town in League Two.
Coming on as a late substitute in that win over Palace at the age of just 16, Gomes became the club’s youngest debutant since Duncan Edwards in 1953. The midfielder was hailed as the next big thing but made just nine more appearances in all competitions over the following three seasons.
After struggling for first-team opportunities, he rejected a new contract at Old Trafford and joined French club Lille on a free transfer in 2020. Gomes was immediately sent out on loan to Boavista and his performances in Portugal caused many United fans to believe they should have persisted with him.
“In my head, I saw myself at Manchester United for the rest of my career,” Gomes recalled in a recent interview with Sport Bible. “I wanted to become a legend there. That was my aim. In the academy, I had great players around me and my goal was always to be able to come up and play with them, almost like the Class Of 92. But it got to the point where I knew it wasn’t to be.”
In 14 Ligue 1 appearances for Lille this season, Gomes has registered one goal and one assist.
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