Andrea Wright: Manchester United under-18s manager admits speedy teen is special

Wright is 20 and on the books of the Red Devils By some distance, Andrea Wright is the ‘faster’ guy in Manchester United’s rapidly developing youth team. The 18-year-old’s description has been used in…

Andrea Wright: Manchester United under-18s manager admits speedy teen is special

Wright is 20 and on the books of the Red Devils

By some distance, Andrea Wright is the ‘faster’ guy in Manchester United’s rapidly developing youth team.

The 18-year-old’s description has been used in numerous preview articles for Saturday’s FA Youth Cup final against Reading – a last-four tie that appears to go to the final minute.

The phrase ‘fastest striker’ has been thrown around on many occasions in the past – a possibly over-used one by journalists or social media users, but very much fair in saying Wright is quick.

Seventeen of his goals for United have come in a row, so he has certainly been in the right place at the right time with a regular scoring streak.

However, nobody knows how long that will last, particularly because of his prodigious pace.

“He’s not the most technically gifted striker in his age group,” United Under-18s manager Andy Pilley told BBC Sport.

“He’s a bit of a street player, who’s fast, clever with the ball and goes forward. He’s got a way of deceiving the defenders as well.”

There has also been a lot of talk about his ability on set-pieces, with Pilley having taken the initiative of promoting him to the Under-18 first team after he signed on loan for Burnley at the end of last season.

Is Pilley as excited about him as others are?

“Yes,” he replied. “He’s an absolute sensation. His shots on target come from anywhere in the field. You watch him play and you don’t even have to be in the right position – he can destroy teams.

“One thing we’ve all said is to keep working. There’s always criticism going around. But it helps you understand how good you can be and where you are in terms of your position in the game.”

Wright has been rewarded for his burst of goals so far in the FA Youth Cup, scoring a hat-trick on his senior debut against Doncaster Rovers, setting up another goal on Saturday, and also hitting a free-kick against Sheffield United in the semi-final.

“Everyone in the side enjoys playing with him and the more he plays, the better he gets,” Pilley continued.

“I know we’ve put him out on loan to a strong team, because he’s special. He’s that far ahead of the game, that intelligent, that quick, that good technically.

“I’ve got a great relationship with his agent and I was able to take him to Doncaster, and when you do that you really develop the personality of the kid. That’s a big, big thing – that’s the beauty of the game.”

Wright is quick – and also right footed

United fans know all about young striker Marcus Rashford, the 18-year-old at the heart of manager Jose Mourinho’s contract negotiations.

And while Rashford has pace and directness in spades, he is a more controlled and technically sophisticated player than Wright, who has been described as “South Korean” by some in the media.

However, the pair have a lot of their own in common.

“Strikers, they are very quick technically,” Pilley added. “That’s the talent they have and that’s the quality they need to keep developing.

“They both have right-footed feet, not left-footed feet, but you can make them left-footed at times. You have got to see if they have what it takes – and they are not totally different, in that they are strong in the air.

“And they’re also both right-footed. Rashford is a bit like a skilful Trinidad and Tobago player, which is good to see. In terms of tactical awareness, Rashford is good at taking on defenders, and Andrea will be like that.”

The two strikers who will likely be lining up for United in Saturday’s FA Youth Cup final.

The rest of the team, however, is a completely different proposition, bearing in mind the team made up of more than 70 players is still small by the standards of the Premier League.

“It’s a shame we’ve got two strikers and we can’t go on with two strikers,” Pilley admitted.

“That would be good if we could, but we can’t do that and you’d have to make players rotate, which causes a bit of pain, but it’ll stand us in good stead.

“But that will give opportunities to other people.”

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