Championship Sunday has come and gone and maybe one of the most interesting games for the future was Manchester United hosting Crystal Palace in what was a 2-0 victory for United. While the game had no implications on next season, we did see an interesting lineup from Manchester United as they started their youngest team ever with an average age of 22 years old. The only player above 25 was 31-year-old Wayne Rooney and if you take him out of the lineup the average age drops quite a bit. There were eight players that have graduated from United’s academy in the lineup and four players made their first senior club start, including Josh Harrop and Demitri Mitchell in the first appearances, Joel Pereira, and Scott McTominay. Paul Pogba also returned after missing the previous two matches due to the death of his father.
Portuguese goalkeeper Joel Pereira had his first start for the Red Devils and recorded his first clean sheet. The two goals came early for United as Josh Harrop scored in the 15th minute of his debut off of an assist from Paul Pogba, and then Pogba followed that up in the 19th minute to put United up 2-0. Pogba could be seen looking up and pointing to the sky after the goal, in what was an obvious tribute to his father.
We saw a third debut in the 88th minute as 16-year-old Angel Gomes came on and became the first player born in the 2000s to play in the Premier League. Gomes only saw five minutes of play, but it was a look to the future as the young man played well on the ball. Gomes entered the game for Wayne Rooney, who most likely played his last game at Old Trafford today, in what felt somewhat like a symbolic passing of the torch from a player who was so great for United to a player who should be a future great for the club.
Rooney has been linked to many transfer rumors over the past months and it’s probably best for Rooney and the club if he leaves as he isn’t getting playing time and Manchester United is still having to pay his wages. Either way the captain has played a huge part of the club’s successes during his time at the club and will be remembered as one of the most influential players in United’s history. Tonight’s game was a look forward to the future of the club just days before a Europa League final against Ajax with a spot in the Champions League on the line and if is what the future holds for the club, it seems to be a very bright future.