Nick Powell, the prodigy that never was.
It should have been a match made in heaven, shouldn’t it? Nick Powell, a star in the making, forged in the illustrious Crewe Alexander academy and turned into a world-beater by Manchester United, the supposed bastion of youth development.
The England youth international, who scored 16 goals in 45 matches the season before, joined Manchester United in 2012 for an estimated £3million.
Sir Alex Ferguson, the man who reared the iconic Class of ’92, gave the move his blessing and said at the time: “He is an exceptional talent and has been schooled well at Crewe.” He added: “I’m delighted he has chosen to come to United. He has a lot to offer and we are all looking forward to working with him.”
Nick Powell will forever live on in the memory of Manchester United fans not for a particular goal, although he did manage that on his senior debut, nor his long-term impact on the squad – for he did not really make one over the four years he spent at Old Trafford. Rather, he has been immortalised for a substitution.
Louis van Gaal earned himself a bit of a reputation for taking big gambles and making strange changes. For example, back in the 2014 World Cup, he shocked the world when he switched out ‘keeper Jasper Cillessen for Tim Krul to take part in the oncoming penalty shootout. But it worked. It was a tactical masterclass. The same could not be said for Nick Powell’s substitution.
The Englishman was brought on for talisman Juan Mata with 20 minutes to go and United in dire need of two goals to stay in the competition. They lost.
Two months later the man selected to save the club’s Champions League dreams was shipped out on loan to Hull City where he would manage just two starts.
After four years and nine goals at Manchester United, Powell was released in 2016.
He now plays for Wigan in the Championship and has, in all fairness, managed to get his career back on track. Scoring an impressive 15 goals in 38 League One appearances last term, Powell was key to Wigan’s promotion drive into the second tier and has remained a vital part of their squad this year.
Manchester United fans, what are your standout memories of Nick Powell – if any? Let us know in the comments below…
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