Manchester United had a frustrating afternoon on Sunday after labouring to a goalless draw with Chelsea.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer definitely thought it was a case of two points dropped in west London, with the Norwegian bemoaning Stuart Attwell’s controversial refereeing decision not to award United a penalty in the first half.
But putting that doom and gloom aside, Solskjaer was glowing in his praise of James and gave him “top, top marks” for his performance.
The Welshman has struggled to get a consistent run of game time in the squad, but the winger’s hard graft in that draw with Chelsea earned plenty of appreciation from his manager.
He has also found his shooting boots again after a well-publicised drought and followed a first goal of the season against Istanbul Basaksehir in November with vital strikes against Southampton, Real Sociedad and Newcastle United in recent weeks, showing he’s having somewhat of a renaissance at Old Trafford.
James is benefitting from Paul Pogba’s injury-enforced absence too, with Solskjaer using his pace to full effect down the right flank in a position that had been taken by the Frenchman – notably away at Liverpool.
The inclusion of James in the side also allows Marcus Rashford to revert to his preferred position on the left-hand side, making the England man much more of an attacking threat with his habit of cutting inside on his right foot.
Once Pogba returns to action, one would hope that James continues to get a good run of game time under his belt in the side.
While undoubtedly gifted, Pogba’s position in an attacking wide area often slows down the pace of United’s play and is arguably more suited being deployed as a central attacking midfielder.
James’ main quality is his electric pace that scares the life out of opposition full-backs, but his lack of assists is arguably the missing ingredient to his game.
He has just one of those to his name so far this campaign after teeing up Bruno Fernandes in United’s emphatic 4-0 Europa League Round of 32 first leg victory away at Real Sociedad.
But after being given the license to play with his manager’s confidence, it is surely only a matter of time before James starts to provide the goals for United’s attacking players on a regular basis. If it’s not, then he’ll likely find himself back on the sidelines.