Kobbie Mainoo's 'incredible' Man United development leaves Wayne Rooney stunned

Kobbie Mainoo of Manchester United celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Emirates FA Cup Final match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on May 25, 2024 in London, England.
-Credit: (Image: Photo by Ben Hoskins - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)


Former Manchester United captain and England star Wayne Rooney has hailed Red Devils' starlet Kobbie Mainoo as 'incredible' after his winning goal in the FA Cup final.

Man United went into the clash with rivals Manchester City as underdogs but thanks to a miscommunication between Josko Gvardiol and goalkeeper Stefan Ortega, Alejandro Garnacho was handed an open goal on a silver platter as he slotted the ball home to give Erik ten Hag's side the lead.

Mainoo then found United's second, a brilliant piece of play which split apart City's defence - first the long cross-ball by Rashford which was bought down perfectly by Garnacho whose slicing run found the path of club captain Bruno Fernandes.

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The Portuguese international then played a wonderful no-look pass to the 19-year-old who was in acres of space, with Mainoo only needing to guide it past Ortega for a two-goal cushion before halftime. Pep Guardiola's side had failed to truly make an impact until Jeremy Doku's introduction in the second half as him and Aaron Wan-Bissaka battled for control of the touchline.

Erling Haaland's effort struck the crossbar midway through the half before Andre Onana pulled off two brilliant stop to keep out Kyle Walker's strikes. However, as resilient as they had been, Doku eventually found a way through United's defence with a long-range effort that snuck in past Onana.

Despite a nervy final 10 minutes, in what could be Ten Hag's final game as United manager, they confirmed revenge for last season's Wembley defeat and condemned Guardiola to his first domestic cup final loss in England. It's been a long season for the Red Devils who, despite finishing eighth in the league, will now play in the Europa League next season.

Mainoo's Man of the Match performance was elevated in his post-match interview, where he highlighted how just one year prior, he'd been gutted with their loss as he watched from the stands as a youth player. He said: "It means absolutely everything. It's been a tough season, there's been a lot of ups-and-downs and really, the only thing we've had to look forward to for a while was this final, and it was such a big one because of what happened last year.

"Last year, I was sat in the stands, I couldn't be involved but this is an incredible feeling. It's been such a tough season like I said but we knew we had to come together for this game, and the staff, the preparation that has gone into this game has just been amazing.

"We're showing that we can come together, we can compete, we can perform and we can beat these teams in big matches, on big stages."

Rooney then highlighted the impact Mainoo had had on their season, and with the star set to join the England squad for their challenge at the 2024 European Championships this summer, he claimed: "You listen to Kobbie there, he's talking about how he was in the stands last year watching the game and now he's come into this final, scored the winning goal and won Man of the Match. I think it's absolutely incredible. What a player, what a player he is!"