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"Let's Go Fosu-Mental" - Why Man Utd's Latest Academy Star Is The Most Exciting Yet

"Let's Go Fosu-Mental" - Why Man Utd's Latest Academy Star Is The Most Exciting Yet
By Mikey Traynor

It has been an extremely weird season at Manchester United, but amongst the clouds of disappointment that have loomed over the fans for almost the entire campaign, there have been a few academy graduates that have stood up and suggested that the future may not be as bafflingly bleak as the present.

Cameron Borthwick-Jackson was the first name to surprise the Old Trafford faithful with his performances after he was thrust into first-team action in the run up to Christmas, and then came the explosion onto the worldwide football scene of Marcus Rashford, who thrilled the supporters by making an immediate impact with big goals in big games, but as difficult as it may be to think when you consider the exploits of the young striker, he may not be the most exciting for United fans.

Timothy Fosu-Mensah, at 18 years of age, was holding that Manchester United performance at White Hart Lane together.

It is no coincidence that all three Tottenham goals, all coming from the right flank that the young Dutchman vacated due to injury, came in the 10 minutes following his departure. All game long Fosu-Mensah was putting in last-ditch challenges, but more importantly, he was preventing Christian Eriksen and Danny Rose from delivering balls into the box, showing the experience of someone who has played five years as a full-back in the Premier League...

And that's not even his best position.

Most of the buzz that had been building around the youngster poached from the Ajax academy were based on his performances for the youth team in central defensive midfield, and at centre back, and while it was very clear that he could operate as a full-back following some cracking performances for the U21s, the general consensus was that his power and physicality suited a more central role.

As he ages, he will likely move inside, but at 18 he is already physically developed enough to not only take care of himself with the seasoned pros of the Premier League, but he's bullying some of them too. Troy Deeney spoke on Match Of The Day recently at how impressed he was when Fosu-Mensah clattered him, as he expressed his belief that the youngster showed no fear and provided the tenacity that Man United were once famous for. And he was dead right.

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The current crop of Manchester United players are, on paper, good enough to secure a top-four finish in the league. They are also, however, completely devoid of confidence and sorely lacking leadership.

Paul Scholes made the point when Liverpool knocked United out of the Europa League that Philippe Coutinho was allowed to skip through the heart of Manchester United's midfield as the players were backing out of challenges, while in his day Coutinho would have been tackled with a degree of force that would make him consider whether to not he wanted to try dribbling again. Fosu-Mensah has shown in just a handful of games that he is not only willing to make that sort of challenge, but that he relishes it.

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Someone who should be very worried about the emergence of Fosu-Mensah is Italian full-back Matteo Darmian. The import from Torino enjoyed a fantastic start to life in a red shirt, earning comparisons to Denis Irwin for his early performances, but since Luke Shaw's injury away to PSV Eindhoven that composed defender who loves to bomb on and whip a cross in has not been seen once. I am not suggesting that Shaw's injury rattled Darmian mentally, but rather the balance that Shaw brought to United, especially with Darmian also venturing forward on the opposite flank, being thrown out of whack badly dented the Italian's confidence.

And for the love of God would someone teach him how to shave.

But back to Fosu-Mensah, while his lack of fear and clear leadership qualities are commendable, it goes to show just how much self-doubt the current squad of players are carrying. Louis Van Gaal's days appear to be numbered, and the potential arrival of Jose Mourinho would certainly make United fans fear that Fosu-Mensah's chances would be limited, but we he to continue to show the desire to win that he displayed in the United fist team in recent weeks, he would no doubt be one of The Special One's star pupils.

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Mourinho likes physical players who can run all day and will work their arse off for the manager. Timothy Fosu-Mensah has wasted no time in showing that those qualities are what he is all about.

Marcus Rashford, of course, looks like he has a very bright future ahead of him, but most Manchester United fans know that young strikers can have emphatic starts only to fade away. With Fosu-Mensah, he has shown that he has all the tools to succeed, it's just about finding a role that can bring the best out of him.

With Borthwick-Jackson and Rashford, it's proceed with cautious optimism. With Timothy Fosu-Mensah, it's time to go Fosu-Mental.

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SEE ALSO: Watch: Man Utd Fans Will Be Loving Troy Deeney's Analysis Of Timothy Fosu-Mensah On MOTD

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