Profile: Nick Powell

June 12, 2012 Tags: , Opinion 24 comments

It never rains, but it pours, as Sir Alex Ferguson signs not one, but two attacking midfielders this summer. Five years after Anderson joined Manchester United from Porto, the 70-year-old United coach has bolstered the Reds’ midfield options this window. Not before long, many supporters might add. While the £18 million deal to bring Shinji Kagawa to Old Trafford will be ratified when the international window opens on 1 July, the club today confirmed the capture of Crewe Alexandra teenager Nick Powell for an officially undisclosed fee.

While many expect Kagawa to make an immediate impact at Old Trafford, playing just off Wayne Rooney at ‘number 10’ next season, Powell signs with an eye firmly on the future, although the Haslington-based youngster will likely join United’s pre-season tour to China, South Africa and Norway. Branded “an exceptional talent” by Ferguson, Powell scored 16 goals in all competitions last season – just his second campaign in professional football.

Powell’s acquisition will cost United up to £6 million, although less than half is reportedly being paid up-front, with bonuses due to Crewe depending on player and club targets met over the course of a four-year contract. In that Powell’s is an archetypal modern United transfer – a player with undoubted talent, who may well improve, and who’s value could rise in the future.

Also to type, United greeted the latest deal with the usual fanfare – a mass emailer urging fans to join the “season ticket priority list” – canned quotes for the media, and a picture of a beaming ceo with the new acquisition!

“We have scouted Nick for months now,” claimed Sir Alex. “He is an exceptional talent and has been schooled well at Crewe. 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.”

Meanwhile, Powell proclaimed his excitement at the opportunity to work with “Sir Alex and the world-class players in the squad.”

But aside from the commercial impetus, there is genuine reason for long-term optimism, with Powell one of the most sought-after youngsters in the Football League system. While the 18-year-old is yet to appear at a higher level than League Two, Powell has represented England and under-16 through under-18 levels, and was followed by scouts from almost every leading club last season.

Deployed as both an attacking midfielder and shadow-forward at Crewe, Powell has been described by regular followers of the Football League as a “complete footballer in his ability to drift deep, act as a targetman and dribble past opponents.” He could become anything from a ‘number 10’ to a central midfielder as his career develops.

The teenager first joined Alex as a five-year-old, making his first team bow, age 16, in the 2010–11 season under former manager Dario Gradi. It was a gentle introduction to professional football though as the youngster made 19 appearances in his début campaign – 18 of them from the bench. Indeed, while Powell was used sparingly, he also took some time to find the shooting range that has persuaded United to invest so heavily. The youngster failed to hit the net in his first 27 matches for the club until scoring against AFC Wimbledon in October last year.

It was under new manager Steve Davis in the campaign just finished that the player genuinely flourished, with a series of eye-catching performances and a glut of goals, including a thumping 35-yard strike in a 4-3 win over Gillingham, and a goal at Wembley in Crewe’s 2-0 League Two play-off final win. Powell finished the campaign with 16 goals in 45 appearances.

The performances earned Powell Crewe’s Player of the Season award, and the Football League’s Apprentice of the Year for League Two gong. None of it went unnoticed, with Ferguson and assistant Mike Phelan attending Crewe’s fixture with Aldershot Town last May. It sealed United’s decision to secure a prodigious talent.

“Nick has shown everyone what a talent he possesses,” said Crewe boss Davis.

“He got better as the season went on and played a vital role in us winning promotion. He is a match winner and was deservedly named as our player-of-the-season for the contribution he made. He has added goals to his game and I think he will only continue to improve and develop at a top club like Manchester United.

“If he can continue to progress then there is no reason why he cannot become the top player we all believe he can be. Everyone at Crewe Alexandra is delighted that Nick has signed for Manchester United”

United supporters will likely see Powell in action during the club’s multi-leg, money-spinning, summer tour across three continents. Indeed, although there have been suggestions the player may head out on loan it is unlikely to happen prior to the January transfer window, with Ferguson and his coaching team undoubtedly keen to work with the player closely.

Then there is, of course, the question of whether the youngster can make a break through into the first team next season. The sizeable fee, which could rise to around £6 million according to today’s reports, suggests that Powell may be given every opportunity to break through sooner than some of his 18-year-old contemporaries at Old Trafford.

Facts and Figures

Name: Nicholas Edward Powell
Position: Midfielder/striker
Date of Birth: 23 March 1994
Height: 6′ 0″ (183cm)
Weight: 10st 5lbs (65kg)

Career Data

2010/11 – 17 appearances, 0 goals
2011/12 – 45 appearances, 16 goals

England U16 – 7, 1
England U17 – 17, 5
England U18 – 1, 0

Football League Young Player of the Month – December 2011
League Two Apprentice of the Year – 2012
Crewe Alexandra Young Player of the Year – 2012
Crewe Alexandra Player of the Year – 2012
Crewe Alexandra Goal of the Season – 2012


Nick Powell


Charmingman93 - June 12, 2012 Reply

Wow a United player who is professional I’m older than… xD
Welcome Nick!

Graham Chapman - June 12, 2012 Reply

Marvellous stuff…can hear the calls already “shoooooooooooooooooooot”

Alfonso Bedoya - June 12, 2012 Reply

Bloody hell… there can’t be many 18 year olds, with a better highlight reel than that.

DamnedUnited - June 13, 2012 Reply

Not digging this Photoshop filter on every cover photo for an article.

Ed - June 13, 2012 Reply

DamnedUnited – strictly speaking its not a filter, it’s a combination of smudge, watercolour, B&W layers, and masks

MrKirie - June 13, 2012 Reply

Good signing for the future! Only seen his youtube clips, and as we all know they can be misleading, but they hype this kid has, he has to be something worthwhile.

Wouldn’t mind a new left back to cover Evra (that is if Fabio leaves on loan as reported) and a midfielder. Not overly keen on Modric. Yes, he’s a good player and all, but I’d wish for someone more in the mould of Javi Martinez or Yann M’Villa. I’d love a bone-breaker, a real midfielder. Someone Keane’esque.

Bring on the new season. The Euro’s help the obvious football craving this time a year, but it’s not the same when you don’t give a fudge who wins (Norwegian and can’t be arsed who wins, just want good games). Gimme EPL action!

marlon - June 13, 2012 Reply

Ed – not sure these two should count as Fergie bolstering the midfield. These two both seem to be be more free role behind the strike type of player. Neither will change the options we have in the two playing behind them. Closest we’ll get though. Can’t see us buying another CM without selling though and after re-signing Scholes, it doesn’t look like that will happen.

Ed - June 13, 2012 Reply

marlon – yes, I know, hence the somewhat cynical tone of my piece 😉 You’re absolutely right I don’t see either of these players playing in one of the two central midfield positions in Ferguson’s 4-2-3-1 next season. They’ll be competing/rotating with Rooney at ‘number 10’

Utdfan - June 13, 2012 Reply

Wow another overrated and over priced english player being bought when the money could have gone to purchased more established foreign players whom have more skills……….he was mainly bought through the perpetual marketing of that fluke goal…….how sad, it’s time English players woke up to the fact that they need to improve their standards before declaring themselves world standard.

Tommy - June 13, 2012 Reply

Great news! But what the fuck is he wearing?!

Herbie Simms - June 13, 2012 Reply

A quality youngster and a star in the making. Still to come is a defensive hard tackling no nonsense midfielder, a leftback and a striker and that would be it for our signings this summer. Will be interesting to see if Berbatov, Anderson and Park will be sold. More drama to come! As Ryan Giggs said to me in an email, SAF is looking to get United back on top as this could be his last season if the club is successful. Word is, SAF wants to win everything, Carling Cup, FA Cup, EPL and Champions League.

Gabagool - June 18, 2012 Reply

“As Ryan Giggs said to me in an email”

I was only telling Eric Cantona last week how much I despise name-droppers.

kramer - June 13, 2012 Reply

what’s with that fucking shirt?

bman - June 13, 2012 Reply

Commenter said:
Wow another overrated and over priced english player being bought when the money could have gone to purchased more established foreign players whom have more skills……….he was mainly bought through the perpetual marketing of that fluke goal…….how sad, it’s time English players woke up to the fact that they need to improve their standards before declaring themselves world standard.

Get real. If some Brazilian kid had just turned 18 and had a highlight real like Powell’s, we’d never hear the end of people wanking over him as the next greatest thing ever.

Denton Davey - June 13, 2012 Reply

He scored almost every one of his goals from a first-time shot. Great to see – too often strikers/attacking midfielders fanny about rather than getting stuck in and sending the ball goal-wards. It’s hard to score if you don’t shoot and this kid seems to have learned that lesson very well.

Like bman wrote, “If some Brazilian kid had just turned 18 and had a highlight real like Powell’s, we’d never hear the end of people wanking over him as the next greatest thing ever.”

Charmingman93 - June 14, 2012 Reply

I heard he is comfortable anywhere in midfield and that we are free to mould him as we see fit. Who knows, but he will probably be that attacking midfielder he is now.

danniitronix - June 15, 2012 Reply

kramer said:
what’s with that fucking shirt?

ffs, look at his hair and his cardigan.

anderson had a great you tube video too. he is an abomination.

danniitronix - June 15, 2012 Reply

new david beckham poster boy soft shite

he will be shagging someone off Towie soon

Spudiator - June 18, 2012 Reply

Good old Herbie, must be fun living in your own fantasy world where you can genuinely believe your own bullshit!

Alfonso Bedoya - June 18, 2012 Reply

“Word is, SAF wants to win everything”…

Is that the “word” Herbie?

Ed - June 18, 2012 Reply

Alf – word is SAF will sacrifice United’s chances in all cups and Europe in order that United don’t get embarrassed in the Premier League… oh no, wait, that was last season

Ben Hulston - June 18, 2012 Reply

You’s are a bunch of negative ingrates – Sign a midfielder, sign a midfielder – just not that young bell-ish one! Christ. I think it’s worth a punt and we’ll see what happens. I’ve never really heard of him before, but the Crewe academy seems well regarded, and his little reel of Youtube hits is interesting. Key will be to see what his more general play is like, whether he can retain the ball, and where SAF sees him fitting in.

Give the lad a chance ffs!

Alfonso Bedoya - June 18, 2012 Reply

Who’s complaining about the signing?

Just criticising his dress sense… and if he’s going to dress like that… he deserves it.

Charmingman93 - June 18, 2012 Reply

Well we can’t all have as fine a taste in clothing as you.

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