Can the senior players please stand up?
United’s two most senior figures today were Bruno Fernandes and Jonny Evans. Both men were booked for dissent. In this young, patched together United team it falls on senior players to lead by example and this was not the example required.
It was an 18-year-old who was at fault for West Ham United’s second goal. Kobbie Mainoo’s lapse in concentration was punished by Mohammed Kudus’ fine finish. He hid his head inside his jersey and was clearly upset. More disappointing than the manner of the goal was the reaction of the senior players. The first player to console Mainoo was 19-year-old debutant, Willy Kambwala. That’s disappointing from the senior players.
However, the debut of Willy Kambwala does give a reason for United fans to be hopeful and indeed proud. At least at youth level, they are still capable of finding a few gems. The Jonny Evans and Willy Kambwala partnership was, incredibly, United’s 9th centre half pairing of the season.
The young Frenchman was assured in possession and was very comfortable receiving the ball. He calmly trapped a pass fizzed at him by Kobbie Mainoo and then proceeded to pick his own pass nicely. It was probably a more comfortable debut than he could have expected as The Hammers under Moyes are not a pressing machine and tend to allow their opponents more of the possession. While the senior players did the youngsters no favours on Saturday, the performances of Mainoo and Kambwala in general showed that the academy is still producing decent talent.