Dan James was the surprise team selection in the Manchester United line up against Newcastle.

On form, it wasn’t warranted. But it is easy to forget that so much tactical work goes into team choices, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer got this one right.

United picked apart Newcastle on the counter attack and James’ pace was a part of that.

The winger was lining up on the left wing, his preferred role, with Marcus Rashford playing centrally.

This was a chance James could not afford to waste, with attacking options Martial, Greenwood and Cavani absent, with Pellistri not involved either.

Newcastle United v Manchester United - Premier League
(Photo by Mark Leech/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

Gradual improvement

James did not get on the scoresheet, but he played his part in United’s victory.

The last two league games he has played he was hooked off at half-time. This one he featured for 75 minutes before United made a tactical switch.

 

What James did well was to show real attacking intent. He had five shots at goal.

While only one of these was on target, it demonstrated some belief, and a determination to make an impact.

The Welshman also created two chances, which was good to see.

James had set a very low bar with his previous displays. So it was good to see some signs of improvement.

He is not going to be a regular right now, especially with attacking players coming back into the side, but all he can do is step up when called upon. He can be pleased with his contribution at St James’.

The young winger is often criticised for his displays. So it was noteworthy to see some praise for him after this effort…

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