Tahith Chong returned to training for Manchester United sporting a new look.
But when it comes to ‘Project Restart’, Chong needs to carry on exactly where he left off.
Chong had a difficult start to the season, with his early performances looking like a player who looked lost in the first team.
He was probably just putting himself under too much pressure, but United kept faith, with Chong staying prolific at under-23 level, where he scored five goals and provided five assists in six games.
Then in late February and March, he began to show signs of first team quality in the Europa League.
He created goals for Fred and Mason Greenwood in wins over Club Brugge and LASK. It meant he signed off before the break with two assists in his last 64 minutes of first team football.
Perhaps there was no coincidence that this improvement came as Chong’s future was resolved. He signed a new contract days before the LASK game, ending uncertainty over his future, with his previous deal set to expire in June.
A sense of belonging
United clearly have high hopes for Chong, and his form before the break showed there is a player with potential. Some fans had begun to give up on him.
It is possible the Dutchman is sent out on a season long loan deal next season if United judge it as best for his development.
If United are successful in adding more forward players this summer, Chong could find himself with even fewer opportunities than he has had this season.
The new contract combined with finally making a good impression for the first team had set Chong up to really kick on. So the timing of the break was really unfortunate from his perspective.
A likely condensed fixture list will mean United will have to rotate the squad during the upcoming weeks when games resume.
This should provide Tahith Chong with the chances he needs to make an impression over the final weeks of the season.
If he can continue where he left off, then Chong could stake a claim to become a regular in the squad next season, instead of being sent out on loan.
It all depends on whether he can get back up to speed again, or if the break has sent him back to square one. Let’s hope he is better than ever, and gives United an exciting new option.
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