How Daniel James is starting to solve a long term Manchester United problem
In an ideal world Daniel James would have been slowly introduced to the Manchester United team.
At 21 years old and no Premier League experience the ideal situation would have been to phase the Wales international in. A couple of starts in the Europa League perhaps and a few cameos off the bench in the league.
But, instead he has found himself key for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side and is arguably undroppable in his current form. After scoring off the bench on his United debut against Chelsea on the opening weekend of the season the Welshman has started every game since.
And he started impressing before a ball was even kicked in the new campaign.
“He made an impact straight away. I think I told you about his first session, he ran 50 yards back, chased it, won the ball off Anthony [Martial] and went forward and scored 10 seconds later,” Solskjaer said about James after the 3-1 win against Brighton.
“His attitude and his work-rate is fantastic. He has not changed at all, still the same kid. His performances are getting better and better and he’s one that never seems fazed by anything. Very pleased with him.
“How he’s not scored or had a few assists today I think he might go to bed worrying about but very pleased with him.”
Taking the defeat against Bournemouth out of it, United have impressed in their last two league games as an attacking unit with James on the right, Marcus Rashford on the left and Anthony Martial. For years United have struggled to find a player to make an impact down the right but James is slowly starting to solve that problem.
He’s become more assured on the that wing in the past few weeks and the return of Martial after injury has revitalised United’s attack.
“The pace of the three of them is quite difficult to mark and we were quite open, so one or two passes and they were in,” Brighton defender Shane Duffy said about the perils of defending against United’s pacey front line.
In his 12 games in the league this season James has already scored three and set up two and should have had another assist on Sunday had Rashford been able to find the target from six yards out.
He’s playing with a confidence of someone who has been playing at the top flight for years and as much of that is down to his mental strength as to his physical ability.
“Coming in was always going to be tough and it was going to be different from playing in the Championship,” James said after the Brighton win. “I think I’ve taken it in my stride, tried to calm myself down a bit and think ‘I’m here for a reason’. At the start of the season, I maybe didn’t think I would play as much. Every game I’ve been learning and the gaffer has trusted me and I’ve really enjoyed it.”
It’s testament to his hard work and ability that he’s already surpassed his expectations for this stage of the season and if he can continue to impress down the right he’ll nail down his spot as first choice starter.
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