Donny van de Beek made just his second Manchester United start of the season in the shock 1-0 Carabao Cup third round defeat to West Ham at Old Trafford.
With Paul Pogba and Fred not included in the matchday squad and Scott McTominay on the bench following his return to the team against the Hammers on Sunday, van de Beek was given another rare chance to impress following his first half performance in Switzerland last week.
Playing alongside Nemanja Matic in a two-man pivot, the Dutch midfielder would have been hoping this was the night that ignited his Manchester United career.
But that impressive performance didn’t materialise, instead it was another nervy display by a man who looks a shadow of the player that convinced Manchester United to splash out £35m (BBC Sport) to Ajax to secure his signature.
How did van de Beek perform?
The 24-year-old’s night got off to the worst possible start when he failed to track the run of Manuel Lanzini who slotted home a Ryan Fredericks cutback in the ninth minute.
The goal which proved to be the matchwinner highlighted that van de Beek doesn’t necessarily have the defensive awareness of a Matic, Fred or McTominay.
Van de Beek is more of a box-to-box midfielder who doesn’t specialise in either defending or attacking.
Instead, he likes to link the play together with quick one or two-touch passing. But he was sloppy in possession and there were a few occasions where you could hear the murmurs in Old Trafford when he lost the ball cheaply in quick succession.
Every United fan is desperate for van de Beek to be a roaring success under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but he looks a man plagued by fear when he’s out on the pitch currently.
One area of his game that will never waver is his work rate, he was charging into tackles and putting himself about, you can tell he really wants to prove himself as a United player. He made two tackles and one interception.
There were a few neat touches as he kept the ball moving as United pushed forward, without ever showing any kind of incisive passing himself.
Only Matic (16) lost possession more than van de Beek (15) in the match (SofaScore).
He had 81 touches, only Victor Lindelof (82), Eric Bailly (91) and Nemanja Matic (100) had more than the Dutchman.
When will his next chance come?
An early exit in the Carabao Cup has seriously dampened the prospects of van de Beek getting further game time in the immediate future.
With Solskjaer making 11 changes to the starting line-up tonight, it’s clear who’s in and around his best eleven and unfortunately for van de Beek, he does fall quite low in the pecking order.
The Champions League defeat against Young Boys leaves us with very little margin for error in the group, so the opportunities to give van de Beek further chances to stake his claim are very likely to materialise in that competition.
Following Saturday’s clash against Aston Villa, our next five Premier League games are against Everton, Leicester, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester City.
Those games will have a massive bearing of where we are in the title race ahead of entering the crucial festive period.
It’s quite crazy to say giving we are only in September, but unless there are injuries, van de Beek’s next realistic chance of nailing down a starting berth might not come until the FA Cup third round in January.
Van de Beek can still turn around his Old Trafford fortunes, but it’s hard to see where the chances are going to come.
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