There has been no competitive football for Manchester United Football Club since the trouncing of LASK Linz behind closed doors in Austria back on Thursday 12th March.
At that point, the Red Devils had also beaten Manchester City for the third time this season, with an excellent Scott McTominay strike sending Old Trafford berserk. Things were (and still are) looking up for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as United look to push for a place in the top-four while still fighting it out in both the Europa League and FA Cup.
The 2019/20 term will be remembered fondly as one in which several up-and-comers made their breakthrough. Amongst them is £15million signing Daniel James. The Wales international hit the ground running at the season’s start with a goal on debut against Chelsea – followed by an extremely emotional celebration in which tribute was paid to his late father.
James displayed a mental strength, toughness, but most importantly; talent.
The ex-Swansea man has 3 goals and 6 assists in the Premier League, along with a further goal in continental competition. His direct style and tenacity and commitment to the cause certainly made him popular amongst the terraces in the early-going.
As the season progressed, especially over the winter period, James appeared to start looking jaded. His impact on the side started to wane and he looked to be in need of a rest. The problem for the gaffer was squad depth (or lack of), meaning James would have to play through the exhaustion barrier.
In an ideal world, James would have been drip-fed minutes to ensure longevity throughout the course of an arduous campaign. Burn out is a real thing, Sir Alex Ferguson was the master at managing his emerging stars and it’s a bit part of the reason why the likes of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes enjoyed such long and fruitful careers. Through no fault of his own, Solskjaer hasn’t been given the luxury to do that.
The enforced halt due to COVID-19 may have come at an opportune moment for James, who can now get the rest and recuperation he needs. I’m sure that when the season restarts, our new Welsh wizard will rediscover his best form which was on full display in the season’s early days.
Again, it just gives this confident United side another push forward. Factor in the return of Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba from injury and suddenly this squad is looking in a much better place than it was a few months ago.
Give James, who reminds me of a young Lee Sharpe, time to develop, and his future appears to be even brighter…