Dan James is going through a dip in form at the moment and needs a bit of support.
Some of the social media criticism after his performance on Wednesday against Wolves was extremely harsh and we tried to focus on some of the constructive comments after the performance.
James has not scored since August and he looks to have hit a brick wall at the moment, although he did get into a couple of good goalscoring positions against Wolves, before failing to take his chances.
Criticism of James is easy to make. Some, often opposition fans, label him a one trick pony reliant on his pace, and point to the fact he was playing Championship football up until last summer.
It is much wiser to look at the bigger picture and see James’ season as a whole as tremendous progress.
James has made 28 appearances in all for United, 24 starts, and has scored three goals and six assists. Only six Premier League players have more assists than he does.
James is already outperforming expectations. After his purple patch of goalscoring form to start the season, there was always going to be a dry spell. He will come out the other side.
If anybody thought there would be no adjustment for James they were misguided.
He was signed as a developmental player. United did not buy a ready made star, instead the club hope that in time he will become one.
So let’s give him the time he needs to succeed and get behind him.
Victim of poor squad building
James’ task at United is made difficult by years of poor planning and squad building.
For some unknown reason United have straight up ignored the right wing position for years.
James’ more natural role is on the left, but Marcus Rashford thriving there means he has been switched out to the right.
He has done well, but he is not helped by United’s lack of alternatives.
Jose Mourinho and so far Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did not address the position. Either by wilful ignorance or the board’s budgetary constraints.
A report from ESPN last October claimed United have acknowledged a lack of depth at the position and plan to address it.
But it does not look like there are any reinforcements coming there this January, with half the transfer window elapsed already and efforts concentrated elsewhere.
It is important United add a player on the right wing in the summer. Either a senior established winger or another talented prospect in a similar age range to James, the Welshman simply needs to share the load.
He has the burden of international football to deal with too and is likely to end this season close to 50 games for club and country.
To be fair United have tried to rest him where possible, he’s started only one Europa League game out of six.
But this is a direct acknowledgement of his need for rest, and United are unable to give it to him at present.
James is doing his best, and goals and more assists will come. He has just been put in a tough position by United when at this stage of his career he would blossom more as an impact player used more sparingly, than as an automatic starter.
Bear in mind he is dealing with the death of his father too, last June, and the sudden rise to fame and scrutiny. It has been a whirlwind 12 months for the young winger.
Keep showing him your support, and remember any frustration which stems from his performances should be directed at the board instead.
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