Cleat Geeks

Manchester United: 3 Forwards, 1 Manager & Uncertain Futures

A lot of funny things have been happening at Manchester United recently and I do not mean the
amount of possession football played by the team. Perhaps ‘funny’ is not the right word, maybe ‘perplexing’ would be more apt. I am referring to three of Manchester United’s up and coming talents and their own journey, or lack of it, into the first team squad. The players in question Anthony Martial, James Wilson and Adnan Januzaj.

anthonyMartialUofMLet me start with the new kid on the block, Anthony Martial, and his phenomenal acceleration into the Manchester United first team and United folklore. When Martial was bought for a very substantial transfer fee on deadline day no Manchester United fan and I suspect not even the Old Trafford hierarchy knew the impact he would have in a very short space of time on the team and the supporters. It is almost true to say now United must play him, that he is no longer a peripheral figure, however come to think of it, Martial never was.

Next, James Wilson and the ‘will he’ ‘won’t he’ go out for a season long loan to a possible championship team to gain football experience. What has baffled and confused reds fans is that while the loan has not happened, and he is still at the club, recently he has not yet made the bench at a time when clearly United have a paucity of strikers.JamesWilsonMofU

The latest and most welcome twist in Wilson’s life at United is that he has signed a new four year contract with the option for an extra year. However after the signing parity was reestablished again when Wilson did not even make the United bench for the Capital One Cup clash against Ipswich Town.

Finally in this triad of players we have perhaps the most baffling of all three, Adnan Januzaj. After the pre-season tour of the United States he finally looked to have achieved first team status and was included in some early premiership matches, scoring the winning goal at Aston Villa. Then, as if by magic Januzaj was gone, sent out on loan for a season to Borussia Dortmund. To his credit Januzaj vowed to come back stronger and fight for a place in the United team, however only time will tell if that is to come true.FBL-ENG-PR-MAN UTD-CRYSTAL PALACE

There are lots of United players who have gone out on loan in recent years, however the ratio of a player using the gap year to earn a place back in the United’s first team squad is not that high. Beckham, of course, is the stand out candidate in the plus column, while in the negative column you have to include Welbeck, amongst others. Perhaps Januzaj will use his gap year to get back into the first team squad, but at the end of the day it will not be his choice to make.

The common denominator in all of this is of course the manager Louis Van Gaal and his philosophy of football which against all odds sees Manchester United sitting on top of the Premiership Table at least for a few days.

Interestingly in a television interview after the away match at Southampton Van Gaal expressed surprise, with a note of caution, about how Martial had settled into life at Old Trafford. Martial, by his own fair hand and perhaps a little luck has found himself in the right place at the right time and is exceeding expectations.

Wilson and Januzaj on the other hand, according to Van Gaal, need game time from which it is easy to summise, at least for Wilson, it will mean a period out on loan at some point.This is definitely the case for Adnan Januzaj as he goes about his game in Germany eyeing an uncertain future.LouisVanGaalUofM

What has confused United onlookers regarding the transfer activities at the club is that, in the case of Wilson in particularly, it had been muted he would be going out on loan to a team in the Championship, with the addendum of a recall should United need him back.

Very much a belt and braces approach which seems a strange way for United to treat one of their up and coming strikers at a time when the striking options are at a premium. Wilson has, as yet, not gone out on loan but he still seems a peripheral figure. As if to confuse the situation even more, on the day Wilson signed his new contract at the club Van Gaal spoke of him in glowing terms inferring he had a great future ahead at United.

Manchester United supporters, perhaps, hope all three players, Martial, Wilson and Januzaj have a great future at the club for many years to come. That the paths all three are taking, while diverse, will in the end meet at a singularity point, and the future of Manchester United and their own future’s will be secure at the Theatre of Dreams.

jim@1211plussubs

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