Manchester United’s 2-0 win over QPR on Saturday afternoon saw James Wilson coming off the bench to score the 2nd goal in the match, Wilson is looking to live up to all the potential he has shown in United’s under-18 and under-21 teams over the last few season but all United fans should be asking what has happened to another young player in United’s ranks and that is Nick Powell.
Powell was one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s final signings when he joined the club from Crewe Alexandra on 1st July 2012 after putting in some outstanding displays in League Two for Crewe. Powell was attracting the attention of all the top clubs thanks to his displays for Crewe but United beat all the other teams to his signature.
Powell joined United for fee that reported can rise to £6million depending on appearances and future success both for Powell and United in the summer after 2012 after he had helped Crewe gain promotion from League Two to League One at the end of the 2011/12 season. Powell was an influential figure in the Crewe team that reached the play-off final and won the final 2-0 against Cheltenham with Powell scoring with a volley from just outside the area that went right into the top corner. Many United fans like myself must have seen some of the performances and goals he had scored for Crewe and been excited about the talent Powell possessed.
In his first season at Old Trafford, Powell was given the number 25 shirt and was in and around the first team squad but played the majority of his games for Manchester United’s reserves. He made his first team debut for United as substitute against Wigan Athletic on 15th September 2012 when he came on as a substitute in the game at Old Trafford and scored within ten minutes of coming on with a fine finish from the edge of the area. It was thought after this that Powell would kick-on and be challenging to at least be in Manchester United’s matchday squads. He made six appearances and scored one goal in 2012/13 season. The majority of these games were League Cup games and meaningless Champions League games.
At the start of the 2013/14 season Powell joined Wigan Athletic on loan in attempt to get more first team football and convince United that he could be a United player in the future. He put in some impressive performances for Wigan in the Championship and the Europa League. He made 42 appearances and scored 12 goals for Wigan as they failed to gain promotion back to the Premier League but did well in the Europa League and reached the semi-finals of the Fa Cup. Nick Powell returned to Manchester United at the start of this season and would be hoping he force his way into Louis Van Gaal’s plans.
He was given a new squad number, now being the number 22 shirt, he made one appearance for United before being loaned out Leicester City. His sole appearance for United came in the 4-0 defeat to MK Dons in the League Cup 2nd round, this was a game where Louis Van Gaal played a lot of young players and fringe players as he was still assessing his squad, clearly Powell along with several other didn’t do enough to convince Van Gaal that they should be in and around the first team squad.
Powell initially joined Leicester City on a season long loan as but this was terminated by Leicester towards the end of December as Powell failed to convince Nigel Pearson that he should be a regular in the Leicester first team, he only made 3 substitute appearances for Leicester before his loan was terminated. As Leicester decided to terminate the deal which was originally supposed to be for the season, there was speculation that Powell had shown a poor attitude in training and also he wasn’t the best time-keeper. Powell returns to Old Trafford, probably even further down the pecking order than he was when he left for Leicester in September. There is speculation that a number of Championship clubs may be interested in taking Powell on loan for the rest of the season.
So what next for Powell? To be honest I would be very surprised if he was still to be at Old Trafford at the start of the 2015/16 season. I feel that his level may be in the Championship for now and maybe in the future he could be a very good Premier League player for a team in the mid to lower reaches of the Premier League. I hope he can get his career back on track and go on to have a good career but sadly I don’t think it will be at Manchester United.