Manchester United’s Under-21s performance in the Papa John Trophy has been well-received.
Their results have offered some much-needed respite from their torrid time in the Premier League 2 Division 1 (via The Athletic).
How the EFL Trophy works
Sponsored by the Papa Johns American pizza colossus, the EFL Trophy consists of League One and League Two clubs in addition to 16 under-21 sides from Premier League Category 1 academies.
The competition features 16 regional groups of four that play three games before progressing to the knockout stages.
If a match is undecided in regulation time, it’s left to a penalty shootout.
On April 2, Wembley will be the locale for the final.
A difficult season
Six draws and three losses are the stories of the United youngster’s underwhelming league campaign.
It’s a far cry from their blossoming form in the EFL Trophy. The Under-21s topped their group after sweeping Barrow and Carlisle from League Two.
Consensus touts United’s approach to squad selection as the key driver of their EFL Trophy success.
A promising future
The EFL Trophy is fertile ground for testing coaches’ and players’ mettle and development.
Travis Binnion, head of player development and coaching, said: “We have a swirl of staff, so we decided at the start of the season that this would be the staffing for Premier League 2, under-18s, under-17s, Premier League Cup (another competition for under-21 sides) and the EFL Trophy.”
Binnion went on to confirm his expectations and confidence in the process, saying, “We knew what we were setting ourselves up for in Premier League 2,”
“We knew we were going to be young (for that level). It’s a good league with good players. We are getting better.”
The fruits of Manchester United’s approach have been an absolute treat for supporters with a long-term view of the club.
The new crop of talent has shown that it can perform on the big stage.
The future is promising.