Ever since Memphis Depay’s £25 million transfer to Old Trafford, his potential has rarely been criticised whereas his performances have been. At PSV Eindhoven and in his first few games at United, he showcased skills that are reminiscent of what Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi are capable of and set many fan’s expectations of the Dutchman rather high.
Memphis made a good start to his Manchester United career last season which saw him lose just two of the first eleven games he featured in and score four goals from those fixtures. He was also reported to be named as one of the 59 players in contention for the FIFA Balon d’Or before the list was cut down to the 23 man shortlist. Despite this success, he struggled to maintain his form as his performances worsened with the exception of the outstanding performance against FC Midtjylland in which Marcus Rashford’s Manchester United career began. In total, last season Memphis made 45 appearances.
A lack of confidence might have been the cause of Memphis’ troubled time towards the end of last season. This, combined with a style of play that discouraged attacking, exciting players such as Memphis and made it difficult for him to fulfil his potential, led to the Dutch manager dropping Memphis from the FA Cup Final squad – an action which epitomised the Dutch manager’s treatment of the 22-year-old who was never given a consistent place in the team – something Memphis would have benefitted a lot from.
Despite receiving some criticism, Memphis’ attitude remained positive as he stated that “the old Memphis, who beat every opponent, will soon be back again” – a huge contrast to the club’s previous Number Seven, Angel Di Maria, who had appeared to have given up before the season was even finished. The fact that Memphis still has the prestigious Number Seven shirt is surely a sign of Mourinho’s belief in the player.
Memphis has a lot of potential and, at 22 years of age, is still rather young, Mourinho has proven to be able to get the best from his players and despite having so much competition for his place in the team with Mkhitaryan, Mata, Lingard, Martial and Rooney all capable of playing similar roles, Memphis is likely to still succeed at United.
The four pre-season friendlies and the Community Shield success against Leicester City saw Antonio Valencia, Luke Shaw, Wayne Rooney, Marcus Rashford and many others utilise the wing. Part of Mourinho’s tactics were to use fast players, such as Valencia and Shaw, to create chances stemming from the wing. Having Memphis in the team can be very useful as support for Valencia or Shaw on either side. He has pace and skill to help get past the opposition’s fullbacks. These attributes make Memphis a very useful player for Mourinho as he fits Mourinho’s style of play very well.
One of Memphis’ most memorable performances last season, against FC Midtjylland, Memphis made 19 take-ons succeeding 15 times and even grabbed a goal in the final few minutes. With Mourinho in charge, Memphis could begin to replicate this incredible form in the Premier League. Having a consistent role in the starting lineup will certainly help the winger to achieve this. Many of Mourinho’s previous teams have had fast, skilful wingers – as have many title-winning sides. It appears to be part of Mourinho’s style of play. At Chelsea, he had Hazard, at Real Madrid he had Ronaldo. At United, is Memphis the fast, skilful winger that United need?
As a result, Memphis should be seen in the team a lot more this season. He does have more competition for his place in the starting eleven, but this is likely to encourage him to be better. It is also likely that Mourinho will help Memphis to become the best player he can be over the next few years.