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Saturday, October 16, 2021

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How ‘the next Michael Carrick’ is doing on loan and what it means for Manchester United future – Manchester Evening News

Despite having never started a Premier League game for Manchester United, James Garner has been touted by many fans as an answer to their long-standing midfield issues.

Still only 20, Garner plays the game with skill and composure well beyond his years, leading to him being compared to club legends Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes.

He was even tipped to play a role in United’s first team this season, featuring in pre-season fixtures away to Queens Park Rangers and at home to Brentford.

Garner’s ability to play at the base of midfield in a pivot means he won’t have to adapt his way of playing to get into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s preferred system.

Instead, he was sent out on loan again.

Garner’s time at Nottingham Forest, dating back to the second half of last season, has largely been a success and was a key reason as to why he returned.

“People can try to persuade me, but the decision is down to me, and I always had Forest in the back of my head – coming off the back of last season and the progress I made here,” he told Nottinghamshire Live.

“There’s going to be people wanting me to go to wherever they want me to go to! Likewise, here.”

Though he has failed to reach the heights of the 2020/21 campaign so far this season, Forest’s poor form is a contributing factor and a managerial change may be the perfect opportunity for him to kick on.

Chris Hughton has departed and Steve Cooper’s arrival could have been an excuse to recall him back to Old Trafford in January.

But Garner started the first two games of Cooper’s reign before dropping to the bench for the match before the international break. He then put in an assured display for England Under-21s on Monday night.

Starts will be key for Garner staying for the duration of the loan, detailed by the player’s father.

“Listen. James knows that there [is] a callback clause. But let me assure you all James plays with his heart on his sleeve and James will give 100% to Forest,” he said, as quoted by Nottinghamshire Live.

“He loves the fans and the club and he will give blood sweat and tears for his teammates. Don’t doubt him.”

Before departing for the City Ground, Garner put pen to paper on a fresh deal that keeps him in Manchester until 2024.

With the future of Donny van de Beek up in the air, and the club constantly linked with central midfielders from Declan Rice to Kalvin Phillips and Wilfried Ndidi, Garner knows that impressing when given the chance is key to staying in Solskjaer’s plans.

Nemanja Matic is still the only natural defensive midfielder in the first-team squad, while neither Fred nor Scott McTominay have been able to make the position their own. There’s a clear opportunity for Garner to make the starting role his should he develop the way many believe he will.

The path is there for Garner to live up to his Carrick and Scholes comparison and the next few weeks under Cooper will go a long way to determining United’s next move.

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