After joining for just £15m from Championship side Swansea in the summer, Daniel James has hit the ground running at Manchester United. The Wales international’s arrival at the club was arguably overshadowed by the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire signing in deals worth more than £100m combined.
But the winger has ensured that he has not been left out of the topic of conversation, quickly establishing himself as a permanent fixture in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side. He has already made 18 appearances across all competitions, and has netted three times and provided a further four assists too.
However, in Sunday afternoon’s Premier League clash against Aston Villa, the 22-year-old produced one of his worst displays in a United shirt so far. The former Swansea made struggled to get into the game, and was well marshalled by Matt Targett down the right-hand side for the Red Devils.
As per Sofascore, he lost possession 18 times over the course of the game, whilst he also appeared to be overawed by the physical contest of his battle with the Villa defence, winning just one of his ten total duels. The Welshman’s searing pace means he thrives in games where there is plenty of space to run into, but Dean Smith’s side’s compactness ensured he could not exploit that – a fact United fans felt seriously limited just how effective James could be in general.
Daniel James is absolutely useless if he doesn’t have lots of green grass in front of him to run into. Make it tight for him and all he does is sideways or backwards passing. #MUNAVL
— Jan Z. (@KratosDaPeiniga) 1 December 2019
He also needs to slow down at times…every time he gets the ball it’s as if he thinks he needs to be speedy Gonzalez or The Roadrunner all the damn time, someone needs to tell him to slow it down at times and pick his spots to use his pace!
— Giggsy Ryan (@GiggsyRyan11) 1 December 2019
I know! Things as simple as giving a return pass to Martial in one-two and he fails miserably. Without pace, Dan James is left with nothing much to offer
— Tyrell A. Richard (@raphael223) 1 December 2019
It’s just head down and cross straight across. No pull back ever even when a player is open
— JAM (@jessemartial11) 1 December 2019
And with reports in recent weeks and months suggesting Borussia Dortmund sensation Jadon Sancho is on the club’s radar for a potential move to Old Trafford, United fans pointed to James’ display against Villa as more reason why they desperately needed to secure the services of the England international.
some people said we doesn’t need sancho because we already have DJ
— Reksa (@Reksaputraisa) 1 December 2019
— stevo mufc (@martial_fc9) 1 December 2019
Dan james lacks so many things man sighs give me sancho please
— OLE OUT. (@fuccutd) 1 December 2019
utd fans were seriously saying no to Sancho cause it would limit James’s minutes I hate it here
— (@iammp__) 1 December 2019
Some Red Devils fans felt James should be confined to coming off the bench and as an impact player, and felt he didn’t have the required quality to be a starting winger for the side.
Daniel James is a bench quality for now.
He has a lot to improve on
— Omisridwan (@omisridwan) 1 December 2019
Rashford, Martial l and James will be squad players for any serious team not starters.
Pereira shouldn’t be in this team.
McT reserves player.
— Cecil O-N. (@zebrastripes_) 1 December 2019
With a busy schedule ahead of the January transfer window opening, it will be very interesting to see whether Solskjaer feels as strongly as some United fans in either benching James, or potentially bringing in a superstar like Sancho to take his place.
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