With a neat stepover and a ruthless finish, Marcus Rashford stole the headlines with his superb opening goal for Manchester United at Upton Park, yet the performance of his friend Tim Fosu-Mensah was equally deserving of praise following another typically powerful display.
Here, ManUtd.com’s Mark Froggatt highlights five reasons why United fans have taken to the young Dutchman at this early stage of his Reds career…
1: ONE OF OUR OWN
An unquestionable highlight of this season has been the ascension of young players and Fosu-Mensah became the eighth youth product to make a senior debut in 2015/16, when he stepped off the bench against Arsenal on 28 February. Yes, he arrived from Ajax as a 16-year-old in September 2014, but he then spent 18 months working hard at the Aon Training Complex and MUTV viewers will no doubt have taken note of his industrious performances for the Under-18s and Under-21s. As is the case with every United youngster, his graduation into the seniors was embraced with open arms.
2: FIRST TEAM? NO PROBLEM!
Much has been made of the difference between Under-21 and senior football in recent years, with some suggesting the step up can be too strenuous in terms of physicality and pressure, yet Fosu-Mensah is making a mockery of that debate judging by his seven performances so far. The Amsterdam-born talent has handled the transition with admirable maturity and already looks like a valued member of the squad. It helps that he is physically developed and strong enough to fend off much-older opponents, of course, yet his composure and poise has been just as beneficial. The early signs are promising.
3: MR. VERSATILE
Fosu-Mensah made his debut against Arsenal at left-back following an injury to Marcos Rojo and then played at centre-back during his second outing, in the 1-0 win over Watford at Old Trafford. He’s since impressed at right-back in the recent matches at Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham to emphasise his invaluable versatility. But his repertoire does not end there, given that he started out as a striker for Ajax’s Under-18s and even played as a no.10 for United’s Under-21s last summer. A deeper role in central midfield may yet become his best position and fans wait with interest.
4: HE LOVES A TACKLE
There are lots of moments that excite football fans, like expert finishes and exquisite passes, or mind-boggling first touches, yet the sight of a thunderous sliding tackle is up there with the best. Fosu-Mensah has cornered the market in his seven outings so far following a series of perfectly-timed challenges against the likes of Watford’s Odion Ighalo and Tottenham’s Dele Alli, prompting fans on Twitter to suggest the moniker Tim Fosu-Immensah. There’s also talk of a drinking game in which you take a slurp whenever the Dutchman wins the ball – a game that should carry a health warning, judging by his current form.
5: AGE ON HIS SIDE
As an 18-year-old who does not turn 19 until January, Fosu-Mensah has his whole career ahead of him and his education at Old Trafford has only just begun. There will be challenges ahead and with youth comes inconsistency, but the early signs suggest Tim has a bright future with the Reds.
Thankfully, he has a level head on those broad shoulders and he spoke with admirable wisdom in a recent interview with ManUtd.com. “Obviously, I will keep working hard. As a young player, you have to do that and keep listening to all the advice from the manager and coaches, especially if you want to play more games. When the chance comes, you have to play well and make the most of it.”
Credit: Man United.com