It finished all square at Old Trafford as Manchester United battled to a bitter draw with Chelsea which has left both clubs in a bit of a predicament.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opted for a conservative starting line-up, whilst Frank Lampard likewise decided to do the same, though the Blues boss may find himself facing more questions about his side’s progress after a summer spending spree.
Solskjaer is hardly short of options, as Edinson Cavani came off the bench to earn his first-team debut, while Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba made appearances as substitutes. But there was one noticeable absentee – and no, we’re not talking about Axel Tuanzebe, although the centre-back may have felt a little bit aggrieved to miss out after playing a starring role in the 2-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes in the Champions League.
Donny van de Beek may be asking himself why he ever decided to leave Ajax in the first place.
The 23-year-old has made just two starts for the Red Devils since joining from the Dutch giants, appearing against Luton Town and Brighton in the Carabao Cup. Van de Beek has barely played in the Premier League, with four appearances as a substitute combining for a grand total of 60 minutes so far, whilst he came off the bench in the closing stages of the Champions League win over Paris Saint-Germain.
Solskjaer is facing increasing scrutiny over his lack of minutes, but he promised that it won’t be too long before Van de Beek becomes a first-team regular and insisted that he is part of his plans for the future.
He told Sky Sports, as quoted by The Manchester Evening News: “Don’t worry about that, he’ll get his games. Don’t worry about that.
“It’s easy to say who should be playing and more difficult to say who shouldn’t.”
Van de Beek cost the Red Devils £35m in the summer, whilst they also splashed out on Cavani, Facundo Pellistri, Alex Telles and Amad Traore, which has taken Solskjaer’s spending well above the £200m mark if you include the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Bruno Fernandes, Daniel James and Harry Maguire as well.
The Dutch international is thought to be earning wages worth £107,000-per-week, according to De Telegraaf, as relayed by The Daily Express. This means that Ed Woodward will have thrown £35m down the drain for the sake of a few substitute appearances, as it’s hard to imagine him starting in front of Fernandes and Pogba in their deadly midfield partnership anytime soon. It just doesn’t add up at all.
Quite why United decided to sign Van de Beek in the first place we will probably never understand. It’s safe to say that Solskjaer’s side were already pretty stacked in the midfield prior to his arrival, as Fred, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay and Pogba have staked their claims for a place in the starting line-up in recent weeks.
During his twelve years at the Johan Cruyff Arena, the Dutchman made over 150 appearances for Ajax, scoring 41 goals and supplying 34 assists in all competitions, via Transfermarkt. He hasn’t even hit double digits at United yet.
And his latest snub could be the final straw as his representatives are growing frustrated by his lack of guaranteed game time. Dutch legend Marco van Basten believes Van de Beek will regret his move to United in the summer. He told Ziggo Sport, as relayed by The Daily Mail: “Donny should not have gone to Manchester United.
‘When you are a good player you want to play every week.
“It is really bad for a player like Donny to play only six or seven games this year. That is shocking for your match rhythm.
“I know he is earning loads and loads more than he used to. But as a top player you have to be critical and look at the chances of playing when you sign for a new club.”
Woodward’s decision is now looking like a disastrous deal, as another unhappy star is arguably the last thing the club need at the moment. Would the board have been better off focusing all of their efforts on signing Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund instead? Only time will tell.