The masterful and composed full Premier League debut from Kobbie Mainoo in United’s 3-0 victory away to Everton will likely have Manchester United fans purring.
In a patchy first half performance from the Red Devils, Kobbie Mainoo stood head and shoulders above his United team mates and by the time he left the field in the 72nd minute, he was the best Manchester United player on the day. Mainoo showed that he could be a ready-made replacement for Casemiro, exemplifying class and composure that is expected from a fully fledged senior – and will surely take a bigger role for The Red Devils moving forward.
During the first half in which Alejandro Garnacho put Manchester United ahead with a spectacular bicycle kick, Mainoo’s defensive interventions kept United in the lead. The 18-year-old had already made an excellent block in the 30th minute from Jack Harrison when one of his defensive interventions stopped a certain goal. A fortunate ricochet saw Dominic Calvert Lewin test Onana, whose parry fell to McNeil. The follow-up effort squirted off a combination of Maguire and Onana and bounced towards the empty United goal. With Idrissa Gueye ready to prod home if necessary, Mainoo got back expertly and cleared with enough distance to allow the defence to regroup.
The youngster from Stockport cut off passing lanes to Abdoulaye Doucoure when Everton twice looked for him with cut-backs and he generally handled the task of stopping one of the Toffees’ most dangerous players.
The one occasion when he allowed Abdoulaye Doucouré to sprint away from him in the 42nd minute, Doucouré who fed Idrissa Gueye who blazed over.
At his best, Mainoo was able to pick up possession from the defence and create attacks, beat the Everton press and hold possession. His decision making belied his years as he routinely chose the correct passing option. The academy graduate handled an incredibly hostile environment in Goodison Park with apparent ease. Most of his touches were assured and his body position and ability to turn put United on the front foot.
Against Everton, aged 18 years, 7 months and 7 days, Kobbie Mainoo became the youngest ever player to start in the centre of midfield for Manchester United. Judging by this performance he may make that position his own for some years to come.