How Daniel James can thrive on Manchester United's right wing

Manchester United have needed a right winger for a number of years now but it has never seemed to be a natural position for any player.

Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia were transformed into full backs as their legs faded, while Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata are more suited to central roles.

Marcus Rashford is rampant right now, showing he is the best left winger at the club, so Daniel James will need to adjust to life on the other flank in order to stay in the team.

Here’s how he can go about it.

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James prefers the left

James was quoted by the Metro during pre-season saying: “For me that left position was always my favourite but I like being versatile and playing anywhere across the front three providing I’m in the team.


“It’s important you’ve got to play all three and our forward players can play that. It’s good to play all three.”

James’ early goalscoring form at United was largely from the left, with a goal against Southampton as well as one on Wales duty against Azerbaijan indicating how dangerous he can be cutting in from that flank and going for goal.

But Rashford has been far more devastating doing exactly that for club and country in recent months, while James hasn’t scored since August.

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How does he adjust to the right?

Solskjaer called James the ‘best in the world’ in terms of doing his defensive work (Mirror) and he will need that diligence to fit into United’s counter attacking gameplan and also provide balance to Rashford’s more adventurous positioning on the left.

James’ assist for Brandon Williams’ goal against Sheffield United is a perfect example of what he can do going down the outside; burning a defender for pace from a slow start before delivering a pinpoint delivery.

But he hasn’t been doing that enough. James needs to hit the byline more often and deliver quality into the box to ensure promising positions don’t continue to go to waste.

A goal would also go a long way, and arriving at the back post at the right time to get tap-ins is an art form he needs to master on the right. Just as Raheem Sterling has done across town and he was a far worse finisher when he joined Manchester City than James is now.

James’ desire to work hard and make himself a United regular mean he will relish his new role.

There’s a real opportunity to establish himself in a position where United have typically had elite talent but has been left to rot in recent seasons.

And if he makes a real success of it, the number seven shirt remains free…

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.