Thursday, March 23, 2023

Where Has It All Gone Wrong For The ‘Next Ronaldo’ At Manchester United?

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Arka Tarun Mukherjee
Arsenal fan and football expert, Arka Tarun Mukherjee actually used to play cricket at semi pro level. An ardent student of football tactics, ATM is very passionate about the tactical aspects of the game and has a dream of being a football manager in the future.

“You can’t judge Depay on his technique. With him you look at what he’s doing with that technique to utilise it as much as possible. For example, look how often he makes sure he finds himself in one-on-ones facing the goal. It all comes down to details. If you compare him to a young Cristiano Ronaldo at the same age, then Depay has more strings to his bow. I like him better. Ronaldo made many of the same mistakes at Manchester United as he did when he was 17.” – Ed Van Stijn, Former Manchester United scout who scouted Cristiano Ronaldo gave his assessment on Memphis before he joined United.

Former Manchester United defender and ESPN columnist Paul Parker wrote in his ESPN column in the summer of 2015 about Depay, “He is probably a better footballer than Cristiano Ronaldo was at 21. The Dutchman is strong and powerful like Ronaldo, and a player who also operates in wide areas. Depay is a bit more rounded than the younger version of Ronaldo in his movements, both off the ball and while in possession. He does not run in straight lines alone – he drops his shoulders, goes deep, floats wide, comes inside and mixes it up much better.

“He is the type of player whom United faithful have been dying to see since Ronaldo left in 2009 – a player who will make Old Trafford stand up each time he has the ball at his feet, like George Best, Eric Cantona and Ronaldo. Importantly, he will be under the right manager in his early years at Old Trafford – Van Gaal, who coached him at the World Cup, is like a father figure for the youngster,” Parker added.

It is really very weird to think that the player who convinced the former players and experts so deeply is now considered to be an utter failure at Manchester United being linked with a move away from the club. United and PSV came to an agreement over the transfer of the Dutchman back in May and after a stunning season – Memphis scored more goals (22) than any other Eredivisie player before the last season – big things were expected of the attacker upon his arrival at Old Trafford.

After a bad defeat at Arsenal, Memphis got things rolling in the Champions League showing his individual brilliance and earned some points from the fans right away. The 22-year-old started each of United’s four defeats in December – to Wolfsburg, Bournemouth, Norwich and Stoke and slowly his limitations started to get exposed.

His very predictable and individualistic approach infuriated the fans and the manager and being played out of position to accommodate formation and injuries worsened the situation further. In a competitive league like the Premier League, there is little tolerance for indiscipline and lax attitude and the winger’s reluctance to cover his flanks in the defensive phase and roaming out of position affected Van Gaal’s side badly disrupting the shape of the formations.

More often than not, the decision making was so horrible that even good openings were simply wasted as the winger took too much time on the ball and refrained from passing it to a teammate in a better position. In reality the player brought about his own downfall and his off the field antics also rarely helped restore his image amongst the fan base.

SHANGHAI, CHINA - JULY 22: Memphis Depay of Manchester United competes for the ball during the International Champions Cup match between Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund at Shanghai Stadium on July 22, 2016 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Memphis Depay can still develop into a very good player but the biggest thing required for that is changing his own attitude. It is really weird to even contemplate that the player who was considered to be the benchmark every young player of PSV’s youth department should try and emulate regarding his performances on the pitch during his time at the Eredivisie and his records in the gym, has set an example which is something Manchester United youths are told not to follow and take a lesson out of.

For the time now, Memphis Depay being a player better than Cristiano Ronaldo continues to be a statement even more ridiculed by others each passing day.

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