Jose Mourinho handed Tahith Chong and Jimmy Garner their first starts for Manchester United in a pre-season friendly against San Jose Earthquakes in Santa Clara, California.
Chong came on as a substitute to impress in Man United’s first fixture, a 1-1 draw against Club America in Arizona. He was praised by Mourinho post-match.
17-year-old Garner, though, made his debut after a hugely impressive season with the under-18s.
The Englishman signed his first professional contract at Old Trafford in May and, alongside his other academy teammates, has benefitted from it being a World Cup year and many of United’s senior players being on holiday for the start of pre-season.
That’s not to say Garner does not deserve this opportunity. He was nominated for under-18s Player of the Season by Kieran McKenna, the former-U18s boss who has now, of course, been promoted to Mourinho’s coaching staff.
Garner is a player of composure, power and versatility. He’s slotted into central defence on occasion, and those defensive attributes comes across in his midfield performances. But playing box-to-box frequently for United, Garner has controlled games, especially when playing alongside Dylan Levitt, the Welsh midfielder who Garner has playing been with for almost a decade already.
Against San Jose Earthquakes. Garner was started in a deep No. 6 role by Mourinho. Crisp passing and good vision combined with the earlier mentioned composure means Garner is also suited to that role.
His leadership qualities have been noted from a young age, and he’s captained United’s youth sides for many years, including the under-16s sides side, last season for the under-18s in the absence of Lee O’Connor and for England at the U17 European Championships in May.