At the beginning of last season if you’d asked me the Manchester United players I thought had the best chance of one day breaking into the first team, my answers would have been Ravel Morrison and Paul Pogba.
All that changed the day I first witnessed a young lad who looked like a man, dominating the midfield in an academy game, in such a way I even dared to think “he reminds me of Keano.”
Ryan Tunnicliffe has fast become my favourite young United player, thanks not only to his superb performances but also as he harks back to the sort of midfielder I was fortunate enough to grow up on as a young Red.
First Bryan Robson, then Paul Ince, before finally Roy Keane gave the sort of box to box barnstorming performances that automatically made any young fan watch them in awe. Tunnicliffe is cut from a similar cloth and although I’m aware that comparing him to the likes of Keane and Robson is unfair- I’m sorry but I just can’t help it.
I’m certainly not alone in my view as on many United blogs and forums, I’ve seen fans comparing him to the former Cork midfield enforcer.
It was recently announced that Tunnicliffe has joined Darren Ferguson’s Peterborough United on loan for a season.
At only 18 Tunnicliffe certainly has at least two or three years before anyone would realistically expect him to be making a mark on the United first team, but right now a spell in the Championship may be the perfect apprenticeship.
Peterborough will have a bit of a struggle on their hands next season after being promoted via the play-off and losing top scorer Craig Mackail-Smith. It well may be a case of Tunnicliffe being thrown into the deep end to see if he can swim and despite his young age, I’m of the firm belief he’ll rise to the occasion.
Playing for the reserves is one thing but enjoying first team football in a league as competitive as the Championship is another and could help mould the teenager into the star he’s shaping up to be.
United have been crying out for a real box to box midfielder since 2005 and while certain players can do midfield roles at the club, none are quite the all rounder that Tunnicliffe is.
Will he be good enough to make the grade at United, let alone follow in Keane’s footsteps only time will tell, but for now mixing it up in the Championship is the ideal opportunity for him to prove his worth.
With former academy captain Scott Wootton also on loan at London Road next season it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on the Posh games for United fans.