James Garner has yet to make his full debut in the Premier League – but recorded a Manchester United first for this season when lighting up the FA Cup on Sunday afternoon.
It was no more ironic than anything belted out by Canadian-American singer Alanis Morissette in her 1996 hit.
But like reacting to that endless list of unfortunate events, United and their dedicated supporters could only smirk when Garner managed something even Bruno Fernandes and other stars have failed to at Old Trafford and beyond throughout the 2021/2022 campaign.
That’s right. Garner provided an assist from a corner.
It’s been that long since United took that particular route to goal you might have thought Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick had done away with set-piece training at Carrington.
An alarming run that stretches into last season has been well-documented.
Garner broke that duck wearing red against Premier League opposition. Not irony. Just hard lines.
Naturally, when a talented young player breaks through, there is a clamor for them to be thrust into the senior environment. Given how successful United have been with their academy route for countless decades, expectation might be ramped up further.
But with that regularity comes an increased understanding, too.
United fans have been there and seen it before. For every Marcus Rashford that has gone straight from youth-team football to the Premier League, Champions League and so forth, there is a Jesse Lingard who had to work their way up via the loan system. Perhaps, in Lingard’s case, one too many times.
Let’s not forget, even David Beckham spent time at Preston as a teenager.
Supporters in these parts will always give players time. They will always remain patient with promising talents.
They will continue to take that stance with Garner, too, but at a time when two of the biggest problems at United are, arguably, two of his strengths, the temptation to bring him back and throw him into the mix has gathered pace.
Whatever heights the Forest loanee goes on to scale in his career, a real chance to wear United red – sooner rather than later – might be worth ripping up the blueprint for. With great risk comes greater reward.
Not only with his performance against the Foxes, strong but not quite full-strength, Garner has proven in 18 months at Championship level that he is ready to make the step up.
Judging by his set-piece deliveries, calmness in possession and overall control in the engine room, United could do far worse than include the 20-year-old in their Premier League squad for next season. You might argue they already are. Either way, though, a top-flight pathway simply has to be created.
What should United do with Garner next season? Have your say in the comments section below.
United knew what they were doing by sending Garner out to sleeping giants Forest and Watford before that.
Now, though, that have to reassess that plan. It might even save them millions in the transfer market.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.