Manchester United finished the last season trophy less – their first since 2004-05. Although, the league was lost agonizingly on the last day on goal difference, only few of the Old Trafford faithful would have denied the fact that Fergie’s army needed reinforcements. Paul Scholes’ return from retirement highlighted the evident lack of options in central midfield and it was one area which was sure to be taken care off by the wily old Scot in the summer transfer window.
With the likes of Modric, Sneijder and Hazard heavily linked to don the United shirt, Fergie has captured two other central midfielders as his first signings before the new season. While Kagawa’s arrival was somewhat imminent, the manager’s decision to sign talented Nick Powell before any big name coup was not what the fans had expected.
Powell is an extremely highly rated young English prodigy who joined Crewe’s youth system at the age of just 5 and has since made strong progress since those early days. He was handed his first team debut at the tender age of 16 which made him the second youngest player ever to play for Crewe.
Although Powell’s first season for Crewe in League Two was not as good as many had hoped for, the second season was like a stuff of dreams. The teenager made 45 appearances for the club, scoring 14 goals in the process including a wonder strike against Cheltenham Town in the league two play-off final that helped his team to attain promotion. Powell swept through all awards at Crewe’s season ending awards ceremony and was also named the League Two Apprentice of the year.
Powell has represented England at U-16, U-17 and U-18 levels and is tipped to represent the senior team sooner rather than later.
Nick Powell is an attacking midfielder by trade and is tipped by pundits to be a blend of Scholes and Rooney which, if turns out to be half-true, could mean so much for the club and its supporters. He is known to be making early runs from the center circle with the ball and has a very calm and composed head on his shoulders which helps him dictate the pace of the game with a consummate ease.
His ability and composure on the ball, for a player so young, is a joy to behold and combined with his mind to read the game, Powell can become one of the most lethal central midfielders in the times to come. His eye for goal and capability to strike the ball from distance instantly brings a certain Paul Scholes to mind, and with the Ginger Prince choosing to extend his stay as an United player for another year, the teenager can continue to enhance the skills under the guidance of the maestro himself.
As is with any young player, Powell’s biggest weakness is his inexperience at this level. Playing for Crewe is one thing, while playing at Old Trafford, week-in week-out, in front of 76,000 supporters is a different ball game altogether as nothing short of greatness is appreciated at the home of the Red Devils. Good things will be counted as expected while the smallest of mistakes will be highlighted and criticised by media and fans alike. Yet, his tender age also acts as an advantage for him as it provides him ample time to learn from his mistakes and improve as a player. And with a manager as experienced as Ferguson to guide him, he could not have been in a better place to develop his skills.
Powell’s physical side of the game also needs some improvement given the demands of the Premier League and hence the player will be needed to put on some weight. Given his tall stature, the lack of physical presence should not be a problem for long and with hard and strong defenders such as Vidic and Ferdinand on the training ground, Powell will be better off to get rid of the weakness as early as possible.
Expectations At United
The young Powell is most certainly signed as a man for the future. While Fergie is never shy of throwing the youngsters in the deep end of the pool straightaway, as he did with Phil Jones last season, the talented midfielder is less likely to get too much game time in his first season at Old Trafford.
Playing in the league cup seems to be his best bet in terms of starting the games for United. Also, the manager might as well opt to send Powell on loan to a fellow Premier League club to gain much-needed experience in terms of playing in the top flight. However, if he shows his class on the training ground, it will not be for long before we see him in front of a packed house at Old Trafford.
The Final Verdict
Nick Powell is yet another gamble taken by Ferguson but considering his success rate, it might very well turn out to be signing the fans have been craving for since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo. Being English makes this signing even more sensible given the home-grown rule and with him at just 18 years of age, he need not be included in the 25 man squad for another three years.
There are great things expected from Powell, and if the midfielder manages to fulfil his potential at the club, Manchester United would finally get a long-term successor for Paul Scholes it has been looking for. The positives heavily outweigh the little negatives which is a cause for excitement for all United faithful. However, the fans will be keeping their fingers crossed as none of the big money signings by Sir Alex for the creative midfield position have turned out the way they were supposed to. But with scouts from all over the country after him, there must be something about him which will make him different from the others.
It’s about time Old Trafford gets another Paul Scholes or may be a first Nick Powell itself.