Club: Manchester United
Position: Centre Back/Central Midfield
Date of Birth: July 22nd 1991
Place of Birth: Bacup, Lancashire, England
Previous Club(s): None
There’s a bit of both Gareth Barry and Michael Carrick in Matthew James. Not only in their physical appearance, but also in the way they play. Matty is equally capable in defence and midfield but it’s in the middle of the pitch where he’s at his best, combining traditional English steel and leadership with fine passing and awareness. In essence, he can be a complete midfielder.
At United since the age of 11, he made his Under-18 debut as a fresh-faced 14 year-old against Blackburn in October of 2005. It was his only appearance of the season but such was his standout ability in the Under-16 team he was given further looks the year after before earning a scholarship for 2007/08. He featured regularly in a below-par season for United, and by the end of it had pushed attentions towards the Reserve team setup at Carrington.
In the summer of 2008 he captained the Red Devils to success in the Northern Ireland Milk Cup, and was one of the finest players on show throughout the tournament. With England youth representation to his name, he’s making national attentions, which he deserves. His game is simple but effective, and he’s one of the most influential players in the club’s youth setup.
James has split his time between the Under-18s and Reserves this year, being a standout performer in both teams. A sensational return of 6 goals in 12 games at Academy level showed his readiness to step up, and in regular outings for Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s team he has certainly showed he belongs. The club evidently agreed, offering him a two-year professional deal in February.