Perhaps the most informative of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's note-taking during his tenure at Manchester United was his statement after United's victory against Brighton on Saturday that the Reds, in their current form, should only be judged once the game it gets tougher than a winning series of seven games.
It is a pearl of the seemingly endless wisdom of the custodian manager that Mason Greenwood & Co. would do well to listen to the young under 18 snuck out by the FA Youth Cup with a whimper Monday night at the hands of Brighton, ironically, whose militarity A disciplined defensive demonstration has a rare taste of defeat given to the brightest group in United.
Neil Ryan's team has played 16 games this season and won 12 games. Two games have been drawn and two more have now ended in defeat. It is quite reasonable, therefore, to consider the void fired at Brighton as a missed opportunity, particularly since the Seagulls have not left with nothing in 11 of their last 17 exits.
Especially since United, in the previous round, ended Chelsea's unfathomable record of winning each of the previous 30 Youth Cup ties. It was a 4-3 victory, on the eve of Jose Mourinho's dismissal, which ranks among the most exciting games involving a long-standing team and, with the progress made in the club over the next 35 days, a real offer for the success of the Youth Cup since 2011 seemed only logical.
This fourth round was, of course, a considerable stage in its own right, but he was saying to see the coaches of the first team Mick Phelan and Kieran McKenna present, alongside Ryan Giggs, the head of the academy Nicky Butt and the 39, former managing director David Gill.
Their presence is perhaps testimony to the fact that the current crop is held at the United Academy and it would be all but surprising if Phelan and McKenna were in position at Leigh Sports Village to govern Greenwood's performance after Solskjaer admitted the 17-year -old, who has 22 goals in 19 appearances with his name this season, is "slamming the door" for his debut in the first team.
But Greenwood, whose hat-trick against Chelsea was the last point of reference in a season that saw him signing his first professional contract, was left frustrated by a side of Brighton whose defensive discipline was, to times, a joy for the eyes. The United has passed and probed with persuasive persuasion, but Brighton's mass of ten players behind the ball has observed their orders with a precision that is not often found at the under-18 level.
And it was the perfect execution of a game plan to soften the pressure and then counterattack, with Peter Gwargis's 6th-minute penalty advantage doubled to 14 & rd; from Ryan Longman.
United was stunned by the initial setbacks and, in reality, never really threatened to make a comeback, despite having far outstripped the shot. Greenwood was the driving force in the Reds' attempt to be reborn, but his distance efforts were as close as United could have found a place in the game, with Brighton's defensive form showing no sign of leaving for the whole 90 minutes.
James Garner, the midfielder who sat on the bench for the Champions League match in Valencia in December, acted in a midfield role, but struggled to pick a decisive pass to unlock the stubborn defense, with Brighton adding a third to Haydon Roberts ten minutes after the interval for all but to deliver United to defeat. Di 'Shon Bernard packed up in a consolation to death.
It was an unfamiliar feeling for United's prospects, but their discomfort in going to three goals with the top league captains was encouraging, obvious. The Reds have persevered in their attempts to forge an opening, despite Brighton's ability to recover, and I'm sure I learned a lot more from the close of 4-1 that they ceded to Stoke in their previous league game.
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