Daniel James has already been on the receiving end of some rough treatment this season, with teams opting to go with the physical approach in an attempt to nullify the Welshman.
But James just keeps on getting back up and producing the goods. His desire and work rate epitomises the squad Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to build.
James has been a revelation since joining in the summer has become a key part of Solskjaer’s side. He is a key player for club and country/
Solskjaer started James on the bench in the victory in Belgrade on Thursday and was introduced on the hour mark.
His arrival created immediate panic for the Serbian side and there were a number of cynical fouls on James to stop the threat of a counter-attack, but this is becoming a common theme in matches now.
United’s winger got absolutely poleaxed by Fabinho and Virgil van Djik on two separate occasions in the 1-1 draw, but it didn’t deter James, he continued to hassle, provide a counter-attacking outlet and dig in when his team needed it the most.
Speaking about James after the Liverpool game, Solskjaer said: “The boy’s got a great attitude, there’s no fear.
“He’s brave, he gets kicked, gets up again, gets kicked, gets up again, and he must be a nightmare to play against when he gets this type of space.”
He was instrumental in helping United take the lead against their fierce rivals, he produced a tantalising cross for Marcus Rashford in-between Joel Matip and Alisson, which gave United’s number ten the perfect opportunity to end his open play goal drought for the Red Devils.
It was James’ first assist in Manchester United colours, and he followed this up against Norwich with an outstanding defence splitting pass for Marcus Rashford.
He should have had another in Belgrade too when he put the ball on a plate for Juan Mata, who somehow failed to connect with the cross.
The 21-year-old has shown with his performances after a £15million summer move, that United don’t have to chase the galactico signings like Alexis Sanchez that have failed in the past, instead there is value for money in the transfer market with young homegrown talent.
Is he being targeted?
The greatest wingers have to get use to the fact that they will receive rough treatment, but it should be seen as a compliment, it shows the threat and panic they bring to defenders.
In 12 United appearances prior to the weekend, James has suffered 26 fouls, but there were signs as early as pre-season as how teams would cope with the threat James would bring.
Tottenham’s Moussa Sissoko stamped on the Welshman in a heated pre-season clash in Shanghai.
Despite only being on the pitch for 30 minutes in Serbia, James was fouled four times, the most for any United player.
There were also concerns for the winger’s health when he suffered a blow to the head from a challenge with Domagoj Vida in Wales’ clash against Croatia.
James was left sprawled out across the turf as physios rushed to attend to him but played on after treatment and the necessary tests.
The Welsh winger has been booked twice for simulation this season – against Wolves and Crystal Palace.
As a result, according to reports from The Sun, James is on a special muscle-building programme to increase his strength because the club believes his rapid pace and small frame see him floored more easily.
It is looking like United have signed a real gem in James, but it isn’t just his talent which is flourishing, his attitude, temperament and work rate has been exemplary and hopefully it becomes contagious in that dressing room.
Opposing teams may have to come up with a Plan B, C and D to stop United’s flying winger, because simply roughing him up isn’t going to cut it, as they once found out with Cristiano Ronaldo.
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