Despite only being 18 years old, Manchester United striker Charlie McNeill has already had quite an eventful career.
McNeill initially started out at United’s academy but decided to follow in Carlos Tevez’s footsteps by moving to the blue side of Manchester in 2014.
He reportedly scored over 600 goals during his six years at City’s academy before returning to United in a £750,000 deal in the summer of 2020.
It was a risky move to make and we certainly can’t imagine Tevez being welcomed back to Old Trafford with open arms if he had a similar U-turn.
But McNeill has endeared himself to the United faithful by scoring lots of goals and…well, by being a right little shithouse.
During an Under-18 Premier League game against Leeds at the start of last season, he embarrassed the goalkeeper with a cheeky Panenka penalty.
McNeill then taunted Leeds with the ‘Take the L’ celebration that came from the game Fortnite and was popularised by Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Greizmann.
Charlie McNeill giving it to Leeds with the 'Take the L' celebration 😂 pic.twitter.com/qQjLOvNuIA
— utdreport Academy (@utdreportAcad) December 17, 2020
The striker missed United’s 2-1 defeat at Manchester City at the start of last season but was named in the starting line-up for the mini Manchester derby in February 2021.
Most players opt for a muted and respectful celebration after scoring against one of their former clubs. Unfortunately for City, McNeill isn’t most players.
He instead went for the Emmanuel Adebayor approach after opening the scoring in the 11th minute, running towards the club photographer while kissing the United badge.
Charlie McNeill kissing the United badge after opening the scoring against his old club Manchester City 😍 pic.twitter.com/rZ3aHS9eub
— utdreport Academy (@utdreportAcad) February 13, 2021
As if the celebration wasn’t enough, the boyhood United fan then rubbed a truckload of salt into City’s wounds by scoring another three goals in a 4-2 United win.
Having managed to annoy City and Leeds in his debut season, McNeill knew he just had one last team to tick off his checklist.
After scoring in a 2-0 win over Salford City in the FA Youth Cup in March 2021, McNeill completed his post-match media duties and also decided to stoke up the rivalry with Liverpool.
“We will look to go all the way in this competition and next round we will play Liverpool if they win, which is obviously a derby and an amazing game to play in,” McNeill told MUTV. “It’s a derby like I said and it would be great to win that game and rub it in their faces as well.”
In an era when professional footballers are media-trained and often speak like robots, it’s great to see a player with a bit of character and personality.
ACADEMY NEWS: Post match interview with Charlie McNeill…confident lad! pic.twitter.com/TmlTTEtVVX
— The MUFC Academy 🥇🔴⚪️⚫️🐝🌈 (@mrmujac) March 10, 2021
The comments seemed to land him in hot water as he posted an apology on Instagram the next morning but United Under-18s coach Neil Ryan didn’t seem too bothered.
“Of course we want to keep all the boys humble and working hard, being respectful,” Ryan said. “We drum that into them. But Charlie is a character, absolutely. He’s a goalscorer, he took his goal ever so well, fantastic finish, and he is a cheeky little lad every now and then.
“But you do want young footballers to have character, confidence, that’s what he’s got. We don’t want to knock that out of him, but we of course want to make sure he knows the levels of respect for everyone. He does. He’ll be pleased he got another nice goal.”
McNeill finished his debut season with 25 goals in 25 appearances and has carried the impressive form – and shithousery – into the new campaign.
During a recent FA Youth Cup tie against Scunthorpe, McNeill gave United a 2-0 lead and then received a yellow card for running towards the away fans and shushing them.
With United leading 4-2, McNeill was replaced by Manni Norkett in the closing stages and was met by chants of ‘you’re fucking shit’ from the Scunthorpe supporters. The teenager simply responded by pointing to the scoreboard before continuing to walk off the pitch.
Charlie McNeill having some banter with the Scunthorpe fans as he’s subscribed off that’s after he got booked for kissing the United badge in front of the Scunthorpe fans after scoring his goal #MUFC #FAYC #MUAcademy 🇾🇪 pic.twitter.com/PooRbiGwxM
— Benjamin Brazil (@bennymufc) December 13, 2021
McNeill’s goal against Scunthorpe means he has now registered 32 goals and nine assists in 43 games for United’s youth sides since the start of 2020-21.
With Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani both facing uncertain futures at Old Trafford, United can save themselves a fortune by throwing McNeill into the deep end in the near future.
But that certainly isn’t the only reason why McNeill should be on the fringes of the United first team.
United are historically renowned as the bad guys of English football and a blossoming shithouse like McNeill will help keep up their image of pantomime villains.
Now for goodness sake, Manchester United, make it happen.