Heads up! Sheffield United praise despite falling at final hurdle

What a journey: Despair at falling behind, but the kids should be proud.      Picture: Steve Parkin
What a journey: Despair at falling behind, but the kids should be proud. Picture: Steve Parkin
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JOHN Pemberton lavished praise on Sheffield United’s players and supporters following last night’s FA Youth Cup Final second leg at Old Trafford.

The visitors failed in their bid to lift the famous trophy for the first time in their history when they were beaten 4-1 by their namesakes from Manchester.

But Pemberton, speaking after the 6-3 aggregate defeat, said: “I’m proud of the boys. We’re disappointed with the result of course but I told them afterwards not to be too down, to look around and see how far they’ve come and what they’ve achieved.

“They must remember that they’ve been on a remarkable journey that ended up with them being out there on the pitch at a place like this.”

Pemberton, United’s academy director, also thanked those fans who made the journey from South Yorkshire, adding: “To sell over 6,000 tickets was nothing short of remarkable. I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”

United, who are scheduled to unveil their new manager later this week, fell behind when Ravel Morrison opened the scoring towards the end of the first half. Will Keane converted his first of the evening from the spot before Morrison pounced again. Joe Ironside reduced the deficit but Keane completed his brace during the closing stages.

Former Barnsley chief Mark Robins, who is among those hoping to succeed the recently departed Micky Adams, watched the action unfold from the directors’ box after meeting with United’s hierarchy over the weekend. Danny Wilson is also a contender for the vacant post.

Pemberton, who spoke of his “pride” at United’s performance, revealed defender Harry Maguire had been taken to hospital for tests after suffering a blow to the head after the break.

“Harry has gone for a test but hopefully he’ll be okay,” added Pemberton. “He didn’t really know where he was and was complaining of a sore neck so the best thing was for him to go to hospital straight away as a precaution.”

Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville, an expert analyst for the hosts’ in-house television channel, tipped Pemberton’s youngsters to make a big impression at senior level next term.

“You can see they’ve got some very good players with good futures ahead of them,” he told MUTV. “Jordan Slew is fast, strong and has got good touch. He seems a prospect.

“But he’s not the only one in there and, with the situation over in Sheffield, you would think quite a few of them might get a chance because some of the more established names might leave.

“You have to say they deserve it and, on that evidence, there’s no reason to think they wouldn’t do very well.”