Donny van de Beek’s first few months at Manchester United have been low key to say the least.
Van de Beek has only started two league games all season out of a possible 23, although he does have a further eight starts in cup competitions.
An injury to Paul Pogba could open up more opportunities for Van de Beek.
Pogba is set to miss the next fortnight of games with a thigh injury sustained against Everton.
Sky Sports report Pogba will miss games against West Ham, West Brom, Newcastle, and Real Sociedad.
A chance for Van de Beek
Van de Beek may have been in line to play against West Ham tonight anyway. He has started both FA Cup games this season.
Principally, Van de Beek was bought as a back-up for Bruno Fernandes. But he can also fill in for Pogba.
This was a wise move considering Pogba missed months of action last season with injury. He has remained fit all season up until now, which has limited Van de Beek’s chances.
United paid £39 million to sign Van de Beek in the summer. And it was with this scenario in mind.
Rather than having to turn to Andreas Pereira as was the case last season, United have a higher level of replacement ready to step in if either Paul Pogba or Bruno Fernandes is unavailable. Now the money paid for Van de Beek will start to look like good value.
Don’t expect perfection right away
The worst possible thing which could happen would be for Van de Beek to have a poor game against West Ham and everybody gets on his back. There will always be elements of impatience in any fanbase, but United fans should be realistic enough to note that Van de Beek may not be perfect straight away.
And be under no illusions, Van de Beek is not Paul Pogba. He plays with a different style, and lacks the aerial ability of the Frenchman.
United need to learn to play to Van de Beek’s strengths and find the right combination to suit him in midfield.
His best game this season might have been the 5-0 win over RB Leipzig in which he starred as part of a midfield four.
United can only learn more about the system which best suits Van de Beek by actually playing him. Now with Pogba out, Solskjaer’s hand becomes more forced, especially with Nemanja Matic out of form.
The Dutchman is here for the long-term, and this stretch of games is what he has been waiting for. He has to step up and show what he can do, and try and give Solskjaer an added dilemma for when Pogba returns.
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