The Perfect Defensive System #5- Gegenpressing

In this new series called The Perfect Defensive System,we invite you the reader to contribute posts on what you think is the best defensive...
Ritesh Gogineni
Editor/Founder of The False 9.

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Manchester United Youth Rankings 2016 #4- Joshua Harrop

This is the sixth post in a series of 10, where reddit users /u/monsieurryan and/u/rdzzl have rated the ten best players playing for Manchester United’s youth teams. This post is on Joshua Harrop and the previous posts include #10, Joe Riley, #9, Demetri Mitchell , #8, Tosin Kehinde#7 Sean Goss ,#6 Marcus Rashford and #5 RoShaun Williams .

I am sure I won’t get a word in on this topic as /u/rdzzl will have much to say I am sure, so I will make this relatively quick. Harrop needs to find a bit of consistency to his game much like Andreas Pereira was criticized for a couple of seasons ago. Josh is clearly a game changer. He is at a point similar to many in his age group were it is time to look for a loan and get ample match time. /u/monsieurryan

For some reason, with every group of youngsters comes new favourites. It can be someone purchased such as Powell for me, Goss for/u/monsieurryan , or it may be someone that’s been here from the beginning, like I used to follow Welbeck or Wesley Brown way back when. There is some sort of emotional component to following these kids develop and make their strides towards a chance in the first team. And all though most of them never get it, it is impossible to let this type of hype die for those of us who can’t stop watching our youth teams.

Josh is probably on my personal top three in this list. He’s got something special about him, as I am sure those of you who do watch United’s youth team have noticed. Certain players have a special type of movement; a feel to them, on the pitch. And I like to compare Harrop to Iniesta in this regard. It is a striking comparison, as not only does he fit in the way he moves through lines with the ball, but he is also primarily a facilitator of attacking play. His vision and passing is at times excellent, and the unpredictability that follows from a midfielder being able to take the piss out of the opponent on the ball just adds to the excitement. With agility, decent acceleration and perhaps mainly his ball control and trickery, Harrop on his day is completely unplayable at the U21 level. His next task should be to test his abilities at a higher level than in the U21 league.

His love for United and hopes for the future intertwines nicely with his talents. If the situation was different at the first team, I am sure he would have been given a first team opportunity by now. It is difficult for young players on the verge of making the final step or two to become attractive for first team squads, when the first team results are as poor as they have been. It is way easier for us to put them on after 60 minutes if we are 2-0 or 3-0 up and in a good run of form. Harrop is one of the players that have suffered from us not being that kind of club lately, alongside a few other youngsters. Seeing as it is like this, I personally would like to see him on loan at a decent, attacking club. Maybe he could join Wilson at Brighton, or perhaps a less prestigious club like Preston would be the place for him to earn his badges at a higher level. It is beyond any doubt for me that Josh has the potential and attitude to keep making the tiny improvements needed to break through. Personally, as a current expat in the Netherlands, I think we should be looking at the prospect of loaning him to the Eredivisie. Looking at the success of players like Brown and Baker at Vitesse on loan from Chelsea, I am certain a player like Harrop could get significant playtime for teams like PEC Zwolle, NEC Nijmegen, or FC Utrecht. If we offer to pay the wages for them, maybe the near bankrupt FC Twente will take him on loan for a few months.

Consistency: the bane of most young players wanting to make it. See, the truth is that looking at ability alone; many of our young players have the base needed to make it at a Championship level or higher. In their best games, this quality shines through and it is easy to board the hype train without waiting to see if they can keep it up for a while. And to be fair, looking at 99Corrigan’s video of Harrop, it is difficult not to board the train in an instant.

As with any youth team player, it is difficult to project a ceiling in terms of potential. What we do know, is that Harrop is one of the most comfortable on the ball, with one of the most exciting outlooks as an attacking midfielder with the ball at his feet. Being comfortable performing this in a deeper role (a bit unlike Andreas Pereira), as well as further up the pitch both for England and our U21s, shows that his quality is comparatively very good if you look at UK players in his age group. I am personally very much biased towards him, so keep that in mind, but he shows a lot of similar qualities of a young Andres Iniesta; specifically when it comes to finding pockets (without the ball), and initiating attacks or dictating the flow of an attack from there. His agility and ability to orientate himself before receiving the ball, makes him an ideal player for attacking combination plays, and his vision and passing ability often leads to team mates being played through lines or into channels.

For me, Joshea Harriesta (oops, hype train bias) is one of those players that really have got a good chance of breaking through in the Premier League. Of course, bringing his performances to a more consistent level and upping his stats should be a goal. But for a player who likes to set targets and absolutely loves the club, I have faith he will put the effort in. I just hope the club handles his future carefully and correct. He needs to play at a higher level, and to stabilise his performances. The U21 is most likely not the arena for that. If you aren’t yet convinced by his passion for the club linked in pictures and articles, or by his lick ball control and creative play in the video, I think it is safe to conclude that you are indeed crazy. On a serious note, I am extremely hyped for this guy’s future at the club, and I am certain it will be a pleasure to watch him in the next few months and years as he turns in to a Premier League quality midfielder.

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