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Kobbie Mainoo: A star is born

A young, exciting local teenager has emerged from the United ranks and burst onto the first-team scene, taking the Premier League by storm.

We’ve heard that before.

Eight years ago, it was teenager Marcus Rashford scoring two goals against Arsenal, which would change his life forever. Eight years later, Kobbie Mainoo is the name the famous Stretford End sings.

Admittedly, most of us United fans had already heard about Kobbie Mainoo before his breakthrough; rumors started to emerge about the teenager’s talent within the U21 set up. Mainoo shined in the academy, which earned him a spot in last season’s starting 11 against Charlton Athletic in the EFL Cup.

Mainoo made his professional debut at just 17 years old.

The 2023/24 season was solid for United. A third-place league finish secured a Champions League spot for the following season, and two trips to Wembley, with one ending in success, capped off a steady start to Erik ten Hag’s reign.

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Mainoo celebrating with teammates after winning the EFL cup 

For Mainoo, the season wasn’t terrible either.

The youngster had impressed so much that he won the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award for 2023. The player’s ability wasn’t going unnoticed, and alongside the club’s iconic history with academy graduates, Kobbie’s time was now.

Selected in the United squad for preseason, Mainoo quickly picked up an injury which kept him out of play. However, it was evident that this would be Mainoo’s breakthrough year.

United that summer made their intentions clear, bringing in stars such as Andre Onana and Mason Mount. Their most expensive signing of the summer was Danish striker Ramus Hojlund, who arrived from the Italian side Atalanta.

He explained in an interview with TNT Sports when he first arrived, the rest of the squad debriefed him on the ability of young Kobbie Mainoo:

“I didn’t get to see him in preseason because I wasn’t there, but all the lads were speaking about him, saying this guy is a generational talent,”


Credit: TNT Sports Youtube

Bear in mind Mainoo hadn’t started a single Premier League game, and his teammates already rated him this highly.

Despite the success in the season prior, United were way off it. Inconsistencies in performances left Ten Hag’s side in 6th place by the end of November, also on the brink of Champions League elimination.

United’s next visit was a trip to a hostile Goodison Park, Everton, a club battling their own financial problems off the pitch. Due to injuries to Casemiro and Amrabat, Mainoo’s opportunity presented itself.

This game was special for various reasons.

Most fans will recall the game because of Alejandro Garnacho’s spectacular overhead kick in the 3rd minute, which set the tone for the rest of the game as United went on to win 3-0.

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Garnacho’s overhead kick away at Goodison Park

However, most fans forget that Kobbie Mainoo, on his first start for the club, received the player of the match, putting in a stellar performance in the center of the park. This impressive display from the youngster made rival fans stand up and take note.

Kobbie Mainoo had arrived.

Since Everton, Mainoo has become a key component within the United squad, especially considering the injury setbacks the Reds have had to contend with this season.

United crashed out of the Champions League after a dismal display in the group stages, and in the league, the inconsistencies continued; by Christmas, United had their second-worst goal difference since the 1978/79 season.

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Full time scenes in United’s 4-3 loss to Coppenhagen in Champions League group stage

Despite their uninspiring performances at times, Mainoo has been the player who has given United hope. His composure on the ball is remarkable given his lack of experience, and the way he dribbles past players like they’re not even there makes up for what could be seen as a lack of pure pace.

All these qualities were on show away at Wolves, in what turned out to be one of the best games of the season so far.

Effective in attack, United cruised into a 2-0 lead, Mainoo once again pulling the strings in midfield. With 20 minutes to go, Pablo Sarabia pulled one back for Wolves, only for a quick response from Scott McTominay, which would surely put the contest to bed, or so they thought. Skipper Max Kilman scrambled the ball in for Wolves, followed by a 95th-minute equalizer from Pedro Neto, which seemed to have clinched a point for Wolves.

Up steps that man Mainoo.

With the game entering the 7th minute of extra time, Mainoo took matters into his own hands. From the depths of despair, Mainoo glided past two Wolves’ defenders, outrageously popping the ball through Kilman’s legs. Acting like an experienced number 9, Mainoo then went on to do the unthinkable. He delicately slotted the ball past Jose Sa in the Wolves net, winning the game for United.

Scenes in the away end as the teenager had won it at the death. A quite remarkable game of football orchestrated by quite a remarkable young player.

Credit: Sky Sports Premier League Youtube

Erik ten Hag isn’t the only manager who the teen has impressed. England manager Gareth Southgate is currently contemplating the players that will make the squad for this summer’s Euro finals, and Kobbie Mainoo is a privileged problem to solve.

Bypassing the U21s, Mainoo was named in the England squad for the two upcoming friendlies at Wembley. Just a few days later, he went on to make his England debut, coming off the bench in England’s 1-0 loss to Brazil. What were you doing at 18?

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Arsenal’s Declan Rice (left) and Mainoo (right)

As the Euro countdown draws to a close, Southgate continues his search for a number 8 to play alongside two almost certain starters in Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham. Conor Gallagher and Jordan Henderson are safe bets, but picking Kobbie Mainoo will win England the tournament.

Season 2023/24: when the kid of Carrington became the man of Manchester.


  • Sam Brady

    Sam Brady, 21, is a sports editor for the Sports Gazette specialising in all things Football and MMA. Experienced in live commentary and sports writing Sam is also a fanatical Manchester United fan however he'll be quick to remind you he doesn't remember Sir Alex's Reign because that ended when Sam was ..... 11.