- Apr 26, 2010
Tom Thorpe thread.
United Reserves coach Warren Joyce has praised Tom Thorpe - last season's FA Youth Cup-winning skipper - for showing the versatility he values at Reserves level.
Thorpe lifted the famous trophy last term after starring at centre-back for the Under-18s but has found opportunities limited in that position after moving up a level.
Instead, he has started to make his mark in midfield and, at 19, time is still very much on his side.
"I have an idea about who can play where from how they handle the ball in training," Joyce explained to ManUtd.com. "Tom Thorpe has been a good example of that in terms of how well he's handled playing in midfield in a holding role.
"Tom can deal with the ball, his passing and decision-making is good and you see that in training, in the keep-ball session and other parts of the training. So I got the idea that he can do it.
"He will get opportunities to play at the back as well, it's just that we have an abundance of defenders as you can see. We could quite easily put out two complete back-fours, possibly three, and it's just the make-up of what we have got in the group."
The one new face in the squad this year is Frederic Veseli after switch from Manchester City and the Swiss youngster is another player who can play in a variety of positions. The teenager initially made his bow in a wide midfield role in the win against Bolton as a replacement for Larnell Cole, before reverting to a full-back slot and picking up an injury.
"Veseli is another defensive-minded player who can play centre-half, full-back or as a holding midfielder as well," revealed Joyce.
"He's played in a few positions himself and he's versatile."
Warren Joyce was pleased with Tom Thorpe's outstanding performance in the Under-21s' 2-1 victory at Newcastle on Monday night.
The skipper opened the scoring with a superb header before Tom Lawrence came off the bench to grab the winner as the Reds leapfrogged the Magpies in the table.
"Tom was excellent throughout the game," Joyce told MUTV. "He prefers playing at the back but we've not got an abundance of midfield players at the minute at this level. It's trying to rotate to fit everyone in the team and we've got two or three centre-halves.
"He certainly put in a shift for the side. He headed it at both ends, put some great tackles in and uses the ball sensibly as well."
Joyce felt the team improved after the break following a disappointing opening 45 minutes in the North East with the sides going in goalless at the interval despite the hosts creating most of the chances.
"I thought we were poor in the first half," he added. "We had several passengers and there were some dull minds - poor decisions with and without the ball, not tracking runners and they could have scored a few goals from our errors.
"I thought the second half was a lot better. We didn't have any passengers, we passed it quite well and put some tackles in which was the catalyst for other people tackling. They're a reasonable side but I thought we were deserved winners."
Welsh youngster Lawrence, who has graduated from last year's Under-18s, can expect more involvement after scoring his third goal of the campaign.
"Tom's unfortunate not to start the games," the coach explained. "He's been as patient as he can be because he's a bit of a snapper! But he can come on and change things and it's pleasing now that he's had a good run of training without any injuries.
"He suffered a lot of injuries last year but I'm sure he will build from that and have a really good second half of the season."
I have the opposite opinion. I think Thorpe could struggle as a central defender and has the better chance of making the grade (at United) as a midfielder. He'd be ideal in a 4-3-3 formation, which could be our future formation if a European manager succeeds Fergie. His passing range may not be comparable to Carrick at the moment, but it's something that can develop in time.