Manchester United’s opening eleven games have yielded seven wins, a draw, and three losses- hardly a poor start for a manager, but not a great one either. Jose Mourinho has clearly galvanised the players and has them playing some good football, though, so the results should come eventually. However, some players are confusingly persisted with regardless of the better options in the squad. The likes of Antonio Valencia, Marcos Rojo, and Marouane Fellaini don’t represent long-term, highly technical options in any sense, and there are fringe players who could be replacing them. However, said fringe players don’t seem to be getting a chance. Four of them, in particular, are struggling to find matches.
Darmian, a right-back, has only played one of eleven matches, despite the fact he is the only natural right-back in the squad. Timothy Fosu-Mensah played two matches, showing he can play many more, and Antonio Valencia played eight. Darmian, who offers a lot defensively, doesn’t add much to the side moving forward, with erratic crossing and hardly outstanding pace. Mourinho has used right-backs at United to provide most of the width on the pitch, and for that reason, Darmian seems a bit frozen out.
That being said, with Marcos Rojo’s horrendous performances at left-back, I think Darmian can play there. His qualities are more than obvious, and he has the quality to succeed at United- he still doesn’t offer the most going forward, but he actually showed some promise buccaneering from the left to cause damage to opponents. I think Darmian should be in the side once-in-a-while, especially with Luke Shaw’s injuries and Daley Blind’s tendency to be needed at centre-back.
Why isn’t Morgan Schneiderlin playing? The question continues to be asked. Easily the best defensive midfielder at the club, Schneiderlin only started two of United’s first eleven games, with Marouane Fellaini starting seven and Herrera six. His unique passing ability is often considered his weakness, so well-rounded is his game- a proper shuttler of the ball, Schneiderlin wins the ball in very deep areas and drives out in spectacular fashion.
It’s a shame Mourinho doesn’t seem to fancy Schneiderlin because he could be the perfect partner for Paul Pogba. Schneiderlin looked splendid in both of the two matches he played, but he still hasn’t gained the recognition of Mourinho. I think he’ll become increasingly valuable to the side as the season goes on, but don’t count on it- and if he doesn’t, I’d like to see him leave for his own good. Schneiderlin deserves better than what he’s currently getting and I miss the days when I got to watch him on a regular basis.
He may not be starting matches, but he has incredible team spirit. While Young still has little to offer compared to others in the squad in terms of quality, he has plenty to offer from a tactical perspective. No other player at United is a natural wide threat the way Young is- similarly to Jesus Navas and Nolito at Manchester City, Young provides the pure byline-running that was once a regularity at every club in the world.
The truth is, I’d like to see another penetrative young wide player join United to replace Young next year. He’s a high-quality player who could make the grade at any big club, but keeping him on the sidelines at 31 is hindering the potential of another unearthed player who could light up Old Trafford in the future. I really like Young, and think he still has good years ahead of him, but it just didn’t make sense to keep him for any other reason than his tactical threat.
Memphis has failed to start more than two games this season, with fellow youngsters Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford both at least doubling the Dutchman’s starts. However, he looked promising in a couple of substitute cameos and I think he could establish his place there. He needs to be given more of a chance, too- removing players like Young could be key in granting him that.
A lot of people are already calling for Memphis to be sold, and that is ridiculous. In my opinion, he should be given three seasons to prove his quality. Even if he ends up being a player who will start 20, play well when called upon and take six or seven years to reach his full potential, it would be worth it- Memphis seems to have a great attitude, he works hard and he’s now gone under the radar. If Mourinho can come even close to unearthing Memphis’ inner gem, the world better beware.