Manchester United’s 2021 has come to a close and for two players in particular, they will be glad to see the back of it.
Even with Bruno Fernandes out suspended, and two attacking spots available – both Jesse Lingard and Donny van de Beek were snubbed.
Lingard ends 2021 without starting a Premier League game for United, as does Van de Beek, who was also left on the bench.
Juan Mata was also ignored despite being pictured in training the day before. The veteran attacker has no place in this Manchester United team, and that isn’t necessarily a surprise.
It’s important to note that United played more of a 4-4-2 than a 4-2-2-2 last night, reducing the need for all three with wingers selected rather than attacking central players.
But the situation of the trio is about more than one night’s team selection. It’s about an entire first half of the season spent on the bench, and going through the first half of the year without a league start is symbolic of a disappointing campaign.
Trio will be questioning their futures
Let’s start with the easy one first. Juan Mata has to look at leaving the club in January. The Sun report Real Sociedad are keen on bringing him back to Spain.
Mata only plays in rare circumstances, and frankly, when it is time to really rotate, Hannibal or Shola Shoretire would be better off getting the minutes.
Jesse Lingard‘s situation is a sad one. He had a terrific start to 2021 on loan at West Ham, only to choose to stay at United to fight for his place.
It’s hard to know whether he stayed because he was promised chances, or whether he was just too reluctant to leave Manchester and take the next step in his career, or perhaps a bit of both.
Whichever, it has panned out poorly for him. He should have been given a chance under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and by time Ralf Rangnick arrived, his decision to leave may already have been made up.
His one start under Rangnick came against Young Boys and he played poorly, and has been omitted ever since.
Donny van de Beek also had a tough game against Young Boys, but he was tasked with anchoring the midfield. His best position is further forward and his snub against Burnley will be particularly disappointing.
The Dutchman is a technical player who in theory could have been suited to Ralf Rangnick’s system, but the interim boss does not appear to have taken a liking to him.
The situation is a real bitter disappointment for Van de Beek, who would have hoped Rangnick’s arrival would rejuvenate his career. Once again even with Paul Pogba out, his chances have not been forthcoming.
With no league starts this season, Van de Beek enters January back at square one, and he will be questioning his future heading into a vital year as he seeks to win back in World Cup place for Qatar 2022.
Neither Lingard or Van de Beek were called upon off the bench against Burnley, with Rangnick making clear that there is no clear route to first team football for either player at present.
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