Hannibal Mejbri is Man Utd's secret weapon! Youngster is a pressing machine and the youthful energy Erik ten Hag needs in dark times

Hannibal Mejbri Manchester United 2023-24Getty Images

Manchester United youngsters have a habit of coming to the fore when the first team is at its lowest ebb. When David Moyes was staring a defeat to Sunderland in the face that threatened to deepen his miserable start in the Old Trafford dugout in October 2013, an 18-year-old debutant named Adnan Januzaj was his unlikely saviour, scoring two goals in the space of a minute to turn a 1-0 defeat into a 2-1 win.

In February 2016, Louis van Gaal was reeling from a dip in form, an injury crisis afflicting 13 of his players and heading towards a humiliating Europa League elimination at the hands of Midtjylland before an unknown teenager named Marcus Rashford stepped up out of nowhere to inspire the team to a 5-1 win, then three days later scored twice against Arsenal.

Mason Greenwood broke into the team when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was deep in trouble during the 2019-20 season, scoring 10 goals between the end of November and the end of the campaign. Ralf Rangnick's knight in shining armour was Anthony Elanga, who scored off the bench to rescue a Champions League away draw with Atletico Madrid.

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And amid an unexpectedly grim start to this season, Hannibal Mejbri has emerged as Erik ten Hag's secret weapon. The club may have spent close to £200 million ($244m) on new signings over the summer, but it is the Sideshow Bob lookalike who has caught the attention, breathing new life into a squad that looks increasingly jaded.