Shea Lacey provides an assist in the UEFA Youth League. (Credit: @utdreportAcad Twitter)

Ten Hag’s saviour has emerged – Man Utd’s Ronaldo regen is splitting defenders apart for fun

Old Trafford was a sore sight yet again for Manchester United supporters on Tuesday night, as they had to sit and watch their team capitulate twice against Galatasaray in a 3-2 defeat in the Champions League.

Wilfried Zaha coming back to haunt his former employers always felt inevitable, but on a night where United fans watched Rasmus Hojlund find the back of the net twice, defeat was simply not an option.

But alas, that was the outcome. Zero points from six in their first two Champions League games, three wins from their last nine fixtures in all competitions.

When you marry that dismal start to all the noise around the club such as Jadon Sancho’s exile, an injury crisis and a failed takeover which continues to drag on, it’s pretty hard to find a positive.

That reflects massively in the performances coming from Erik ten Hag’s side, who appear to have mastered the art of putting together a strong opening 20 minutes before either conceding or falling flat on their faces – whichever comes first.

United are in desperate need of someone to come into the side, rejuvenate the mood, play with fearlessness and provide some desperately needed thrust and talent.

Enter Shea Lacey, who was at it again in the UEFA Youth League earlier in the day before the first team disappointed in the main event.

The 16-year-old has burst onto the scene at United for ripping up the script in the youth ranks, tormenting defenders weekly with his GCSE results in one hand and a golden ticket to the top of the footballing mountain in the other – all with his slippers on, might we add.

Cristiano Ronaldo-like in his mazy ball-carrying and turbocharged goal-creating actions, it’s clear to see there’s something special about Lacey when you watch him. His ceiling is dizzyingly high.

Coming off the bench against the Turkish youth side, the teenager wasted no time in getting stuck in. The icing on the cake, though, was a marvellous assist for Omari Forson.

He makes it look disgustingly easy.

Awareness, technique, vision and the stones to put it all together to create such a dreamy assist? Spectacular.

The half-turn is seamless, and in an instant, before any Galatasaray player can get near Lacey to put him under pressure, he’s already made a stride towards the halfway line and unleashed a sickening, laser-guided pass through to Forson who has the easiest job in the world after that.

Try to intercept that and you’re tying yourself up in knots or ending up with a severe case of whiplash for turning too quickly in trying to watch the pass.

What makes all of this so much more impressive is that Lacey only turned 16 in April. Not only does he possess jaw-dropping talent for his age, the head between his shoulders is already wise beyond its years.

Lacey is already affecting games like a senior would. Be it off the bench or from the start, his positioning off the ball is mightily impressive and he knows what areas to carry it into virtually every time, before he’s even received it. He’s several steps ahead of everybody around him.

It’s early days, but with such effective cameos and even more exciting goal contributions, it can’t be long before Ten Hag’s first team coaches are tempted by the thought of trying him with the seniors.

In an era where Lamine Yamal has proven Barcelona’s saviour, Lacey might just do the same for United.

By Mitch Wilks

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