Dan James’ mixed debut season has prompted many differing opinions about the young Welshman’s prospects.
He began in style, netting three times in his opening four games, before a five month goal drought which was only broken with a goal against LASK before the season was halted.
Here are three reasons to be positive about James and his future at Old Trafford…
He has shown he can impact games
The four matches in which James has scored demonstrate his ability to influence matches at Premier League and European level.
James netted against Chelsea on his debut, as well as goals against Crystal Palace and Southampton, before the LASK strike.
The winger’s measure has been beyond just goals. The job he does for the team has been highlighted by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with his display in the home derby win over City particularly effective.
James is learning and it is important to note the season is not yet complete.
We were about to see a refreshed, more confident James after his goal against LASK finally ended his goal drought.
His confidence was clearly suffering in the weeks leading up to this and the goal will have helped. United were about to see a different player.
There is a counter to this point, that James has struggled to impact games at times. That was to be expected in his debut season.
He hasn’t impacted enough games, but he has shown he can do it. He is contributing a goal or assist every three games in the Premier League. That’s not bad.
Let’s choose to view it through a positive lens and take the positive moments from his learn-on-the-job first season in the top flight.
James also leads Manchester United in assists for the season, with six assists in total.
This stat may come as a surprise to many after a difficult 2020 (all his assists came before January), and it shows how much of a creative burden has fallen on him at times.
Bruno Fernandes was already up to three assists and would likely have surpassed James.
This will help him, and the penalty he won at home to Watford from Fernandes’ pass showed how he can link up with the new signing.
James also combined well with Marcus Rashford, setting up goals for him against Liverpool and Burnley.
Getting the England international back from injury will help James’ game.
New signings will help
James never should have been put in this position after his £15 million move.
He has made 25 starts this season in the Premier League out of a possible 29 games.
He was signed as a player United hope will develop into a top player, rather than a ready-made one, James’ inexperience has been exposed at times and the pressure has piled on.
United can fix this by signing a winger like Jadon Sancho this summer and allowing James to make more of an impact on games from the bench.
His pace can be more of a factor in these scenarios, as against Chelsea on his debut, and we could start to see the best of him.
He is almost made for this super-sub role at this stage of his career. For this reason, claims from The Sun that he could be loaned out, are very unlikely.
Signing Sancho, or another winger, will put James in a better position to play more consistently, and the competition could see him become even more determined to respond and raise his game.
- Robin van Persie raves about Anthony Martial’s performance
- Five things we learned as Manchester United beat FC Copenhagen
- Confirmed Manchester United XI v FC Copenhagen
- Harry Maguire is the exception which gives United hope over Sancho deal
- Lille chief raves about ‘immense talent’ Angel Gomes
- FC Copenhagen’s Mo Daramy is ‘crazy about United’ and has chance to impress
- Promotion for under-23s gives United a positive dilemma for youngsters
- It’s deadline day for Manchester United: Or is it?
- A Phil Jones sale this summer would be a mini-miracle for United