IF Callum McFadzean, scorer of a remarkable goal during last week’s FA Youth Cup final first-leg at Bramall Lane, needs any advice about handling the Old Trafford experience then he need look no further than older brother Kyle.
A member of the Crawley Town side which impressed against Sheffield United’s Mancunian cousins in the tournament proper last season, McFadzean snr will be a source of potentially invaluable information about coping with the pressure of appearing at the Theatre Of Dreams.
John Pemberton, the visitors’ academy director, conceded soon after Tuesday’s 2-2 draw that character and attitude are essential if United are to lift the trophy for the first time in the club’s history.
He tackled the subject again when, less than 72 hours later, members of the press descended upon Shirecliffe to discuss his team’s prospects of denying their opponents an astonishing 10th triumph tonight.
“We’ve looked at what Crawley did,” said Pemberton. “They were out-standing and we’ve looked what others who have done well there did too.
“They’ve all gone there with the attitude that they’ll give it a real go and, hopefully, that’s what we’ll do. That’s what has got us this far and we don’t plan on changing now.
“I think Manchester United will have to score a couple if they want to win because I’m backing my lads to get one goal at least.”
United, roared on by the majority of a near 30,000 crowd, started the first-leg in tentative fashion with Jesse Lingard firing Paul McGuinness’ men in front. However, McFadzean’s rasping long-range effort, coupled with Jordan Slew’s second-half strike, ensured honours finished even after Will Keane had earlier restored Manchester United’s slender lead.
“I wasn’t surprised to see Callum put that one away,” Pemberton said. “He scored one against Liverpool in the League earlier this season that was even better. He seemed to beat their entire team before sticking the ball in the back of the net. So he’s got that in him.”
However McFadzean, an England youth international, must be careful not to ignore his defensive duties as United’s hosts look to exploit home advantage.
Indeed, an emphatic 4-0 win saw them dispatch holders Chelsea here in the previous round despite being beaten at Stamford Bridge.
“Some of our boys can be whatever they want to be and I‘ve told them that,” Pemberton said. “Take someone like Callum. He’s done exceptionally well.
“He’ll probably have another go with us next year and then look to move up after that. There has to be a structure.
“When some of our boys have been working with the first team, rather than go home after training with everyone else, I always make sure they come back down to the academy and join back in the things that we’re up to. I don’t want distractions.”
Brian McClair, Manchester’s academy director, dismissed suggestions that McGuinness’ men are better equipped to prevail, saying: “History is irrelevant. Whether the other club has even been this far before is irrelevant because our group of players have never been this far either.”
Pemberton predicts that appearing at Villa Park in the other semi-final should stand his charges in good stead.
“We’re keeping the same routine,” he said. “We’ll be doing some light ball work here on the day of the game and then travelling over there in good time.
“Even if we had the chance to show the lads Old Trafford beforehand I wouldn’t. I want to keep everything as normal as possible.”