Manchester United have always been famed for giving opportunities to their young players – and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer tried to maintain that tradition during his time as manager.
Solskjaer spent just under three years in the Old Trafford dugout and regularly put his faith in United’s academy stars.
We’ve looked at the 16 academy graduates to make their debut under the Norwegian to see how they’ve fared so far.
Chong was handed his first-team debut early in Solskjaer’s reign, coming off the bench against Reading in the FA Cup in January 2019.
The winger is highly regarded at United but was mainly been restricted to cameo appearances in the Premier League and Europa League in 2019-20.
He signed a new contract at Old Trafford before spending the 2020-21 season on loan at Werder Bremen and Club Brugge. The 21-year-old returned to England and then made a really promising start to a loan spell at Birmingham City before suffering a serious groin injury in November 2021.
Garner made his senior debut at just 17 years of age, replacing Fred in the final stages of United’s 3-1 win against Crystal Palace in February 2019.
“I believe he’s got the chance to have a great future,” Solskjaer said after the game. “He knows we believe in him, we’ve got great faith in him as the next Michael Carrick.
“I know he’s young and I know it’s not fair on kids to compare to great players like Michael was, but he’s the same mould, he plays simple passes, plays through the lines.”
The midfielder started three times in the Europa League group stage in 2019-20 but spent most of that season with the Under-23s.
Garner struggled to make an impact during his spell at Watford but moved on loan to Nottingham Forest in January 2021, where he earned rave reviews for his performances.
One of the most exciting talents to break through at United in a long time, Greenwood made his debut as an 87th-minute substitute in the incredible Champions League win against PSG in March 2019.
The forward then established himself in the first team and has gone from strength to strength in recent seasons, scoring 32 goals in all competitions before turning 20.
READ: Comparing Mason Greenwood’s Man Utd record at 19 to Wayne Rooney’s
Williams made his senior debut in an EFL Cup match against Rochdale in September 2019 and quickly became a key part of Solskjaer’s squad, making 36 appearances in all competitions in his breakthrough season.
But the arrival of Alex Telles and the improved form of Luke Shaw saw him fall down the pecking order in 2020-21.
The 21-year-old then decided to join newly-promoted Norwich City on a season-long loan deal in search of regular first-team football.
Bernard made his debut in a Europa League game against Astana in Kazakhstan in November 2019, but it didn’t go to plan.
The defender marked the occasion with an unfortunate own goal in a 2-1 defeat and hasn’t played for the senior team since.
He enjoyed a promising loan spell at League Two side Salford City last season and has continued to impress with Hull City in the Championship in 2021-22.
Laird played the full 90 minutes in the 2-1 defeat away at Astana and followed that up with a cameo appearance against AZ Alkmaar.
The right-back was promoted to first-team training in July 2020 and was part of the squad for the Europa League knockout stages.
In January 2021, he was sent out on loan to MK Dons in League One and got his first taste of regular first-team football.
The 20-year-old then followed manager Russel Martin to Swansea City and made an immediate impact for the Championship side in 2021-22.
READ: Watch out AWB: Man Utd’s Ethan Laird will never stop driving forward
Levitt was one of United’s standout performers against Astana and looked accomplished on the ball, completing 100 of his 104 passes in the middle of the park.
The 21-year-old is yet to add to his solitary first-team appearance, but he has played for the senior Wales squad under United legend Ryan Giggs.
“He’s a huge talent,” Giggs told United’s official website in May 2020. “In training, he is one of the best. Even though he has yet to play a Premier League game for United, he has already helped raise standards and the senior players feed off that.
“He’s my kind of player – a good character, quiet but tough, and he’s one that I will be taking a big look at over the next year or so. If he plays more games, then he’ll definitely be in the reckoning.”
Despite that assessment from Giggs, opportunities were limited for Levitt on loan to Charlton in the first half of the 2020-21 season.
He took the rather bold step of a loan to NK Istra 1961 in February 2021 before heading to Scotland with Dundee United on a season-long loan deal.
Dylan Levitt’s game by numbers vs. Celtic:
75 total touches
60 attempted passes
47 successful passes
13 passes into the final third
4 attempted tackles
3 successful tackles
3 passes into the box
Outstanding. 🟠⚫️ pic.twitter.com/L9TJoEEsdJ
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) September 27, 2021
Mellor travelled to Astana on the back of some impressive displays with the Under-23s and replaced Chong for the final 30 minutes.
The forward is still waiting for his second appearance for the club and is currently on loan at League Two side Salford City.
Ramazani also made his senior bow during the shock defeat to Astana, but that six-minute cameo proved to be his one and only appearance for the club.
The Belgian striker rejected a new contract at United and signed for Spanish second division side UD Almeria on a free transfer in August 2020.
“I want to thank the club for helping me become a better footballer/person and for making me and my family feel at home during my time here,” Ramazani said on Twitter after leaving Old Trafford.
“After all the years I can only say thank you to the club, to the fans that have supported me since the first day I wore this jersey and of course thank you and good luck to my team-mates, who helped me settle in since day one not only as team-mates but as friends/family.
“Today I say goodbye to Manchester United but I take with me many memories, lessons and great moments that will live with me forever. It has been one of the best years of my football career.”
WATCH: Ex-Man Utd prospect Ramazani scores stunning goal from 60 yards out
An 89th-minute sub in that Astana defeat, Galbraith didn’t get much of a chance to show what he can do.
The midfielder performed well for United’s Under-23s in 2020-21 and is now getting his first taste of regular first-team football on loan at Doncaster Rovers.
READ: ‘Little Iniesta’ Ethan Galbraith is already scoring goals like Paul Scholes
Mengi became the 11th academy graduate to make their debut under Solskjaer, coming off the bench against LASK in the Europa League in August 2020.
The defender impressed for United’s Under-23 and Under-18 teams in 2019-20 and is tipped for a bright future at Old Trafford.
“He’s a leader, a [proper] centre-back,” Solskjaer told BT Sport after Mengi’s debut. “He’s one we believe in. He’s in the same age group as Mason [Greenwood].
“They grew up together. ‘He’s strong, quick, good on the ball. We’ve got a decent player there.”
Mengi moved to Wayne Rooney’s Derby on loan in February 2021 and made nine Championship appearances as they narrowly avoided relegation. He’s now back with United’s Under-23s but has been linked with another loan move.
After five seasons out on loan at four different clubs – including a brilliant two-year spell at Sheffield United that saw him called up to the England squad – Henderson finally made his United debut in September 2020, keeping a clean sheet as United beat Luton 3-0 in the League Cup.
The England international has made another 26 appearances for the club but is still behind David de Gea in the pecking order and has been linked with a move away.
Shoretire made his senior debut at 17, coming off the bench against his hometown club Newcastle United in February 2021 following some strong showings for the Under-23s.
The little winger made two more cameo appearances in 2020-21 and also won the prestigious Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award.
Elanga was named in United’s much-changed side against Leicester City in May 2021 and showed glimpses of his talent and electric pace in a 2-1 defeat.
The 19-year-old made his second start for the club against Wolves on the final day of the Premier League season and marked the occasion with a brilliant headed goal.
He’s continued to impress for their Under-23s in 2021-22 and has made one first-team appearance in the League Cup.
Welcome to the Premier League goalscorer’s club Anthony Elanga 🙌
The 19-year-old’s first Man Utd goal is a beauty!
Bullet header 💥 pic.twitter.com/Pl79PmZrvA
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 23, 2021
After winning the Under-23s Player of the Year in 2020-21, Mejbri was rewarded with a brief cameo against Wolves and managed to embarrass Willy Boly with a cheeky nutmeg.
WATCH: Hannibal Mejbri pulls off cheeky nutmeg on his Man Utd debut
The last academy graduate to make their debut under Solskjaer, Fish came off the bench for the final couple of minutes in the win against Wolves.
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