For a season in which Louis van Gaal was supposed to be destroying Manchester United's tradition of youth, we've seen quite a few of the kids making their way onto the bench and then onto the pitch. In part, that's down to Van Gaal's conscious, strange decision to streamline the squad, but still, he's been generally unafraid to throw the kids on where required. For a few games. Before loaning them out and pretending they don't exist.
Anyway, the latest beneficiary of the good part of this policy has been Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, a left-footed defender who came on just before halftime against Liverpool and did pretty well. We've been having a think, and we've come up with 27 reasons why Borthwick-Jackson should make his first start for the first team this coming Saturday against Southampton.
1. He's a local lad. More of that sort of thing.
2. He might actually be the best option. Consider: Daley Blind passes and crosses neatly but is as slooooooooow as mogadon-infused treacle, and is probably going to play at centreback anyway. Luke Shaw is injured. Ashley Young is rightfooted and not a fullback. And on Sunday, Matteo Darmian was largely awful on the left side, then perfectly adequate on the right; that might be down to United's half-time row and subsequent slight improvement, but it is also his natural position. So, who else is there? Phil Jones?
3. He is not Phil Jones.
4. He has a good name. The components are fairly straightforward, but look at the whole package. "Borthwick-Jackson." Now place that word in the mouth of a commentator as the young lad cuts in from the left, meets the bouncing ball first time, and Big Berthas a rising shot into the top right corner of the net. "And here's Boooorthwick-JACKSON! Oh! Oh my word!"
It's the two 'k's that do; the move from 'wick' to 'jack' is a natural crescendo, and then the 'son' rounds it off nicely. Admittedly, we've no evidence yet that he is capable of Big Bertha-ing a rising shot into the top right corner of the net, but if he ever manages it, all the rest is in place.
5. He's might actually be pretty decent, too. He's skinny and terribly young but throughout his cameos he's been willing to get forward, unafraid to show for the ball, and acceptably quick across the ground. While Anfield probably isn't the seething cauldron that it once was, 45 largely mistake-free minutes against Liverpool suggests that he's unfazed by the prospect of being a Manchester United player. Which isn't bad going at the age of 18; plenty of proper grownups never get their heads round it.
Look, here's Chris Smalling on manutd.com, agreeing with us:
I think he showed he is ready for a stage like this.He has been drip fed quite a few games this season and he has done very well. To be able to stand up here and perform like he did shows he is ready for any game because if you can perform here then you can perform anywhere in the league ... On the whole he looks after himself because he is a very level-headed guy.
6. He has a good run. Seriously. Next time he makes it onto the pitch, watch him jogging back into position: back straight, elbows tucked in, hands front, wrists cocked. He looks like a young velociraptor. Which (we're sure we don't need to point out) is an excellent look for a fullback.
7-27. Yeah, we were lying about the rest. Sorry! In our defence, did you really want to read 20 more points about a minor selection issue three days from now? No. No, you didn't. So think of this paragraph as us returning to you the time you would have wasted. You're welcome.