Louis Van Gaal has warned Adnan Januzaj that he must make the most of his talent if he is to succeed at Old Trafford and force his way into the starting XI on a regular basis.
Januzaj made his first Premier League start in almost three months against Leicester on Saturday and gave a good account of himself playing on the left side of a midfield diamond. It was only the sixth name Van Gaal had named the Belgian, who turns 20 on Thursday, in his starting XI this season and the United manager insisted the teenager must perform week in, week out to secure a starting spot.
After an insipid performance against Cambridge, Manchester United returned to winning ways, dispatching Leicester 3-1 as they banished the demons of the 5-3 capitulation earlier in the season.
Louis Van Gaal had demanded more goals from his players and he was pleased with what he saw, as United scored three and could have probably had one or two more, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
Here’s five things we’ve learnt from Saturday.
It’s been one of the most exciting Premier League seasons in history, there’s no doubt about that. At the very top Manchester City and Chelsea are neck and neck and nipping at their heels is a stream of clubs desperate for those final Champions League spots including Manchester United.
It’s been a surprising campaign so far with both Southampton and West Ham flying high in the top-flight with Ronald Koeman’s men currently sitting pretty in third. But can they maintain that run to send them globetrotting around Europe come next season?
On the 21st of September around 12.45pm, United fans were sat back with their feet up or pint in hand brimming with excitement at the idea of a season with this new look United side under the brilliant Van Gaal.
Half an hour later most had switched off their televisions in disgust, sank a few more ales and taken to the internet to discuss why this would be another season of abject failure.
Nothing better summarises the fickle nature of football than that fixture. United went from title contenders to mid-table mediocrity quicker than a Tom Cleverly back pass.
Louis Van Gaal has ruled out any January signings, meaning Manchester United wait for a world class centre-back will extend until the summer transfer window.
United had been expected to bolster their defensive options in the winter transfer window, but with their primary targets seemingly out of reach, Van Gaal declared on Friday that while departures remained possible, the arrival gate was now firmly shut.
Darren Fletcher has been given permission to talk to West Ham United ahead of a possible January move, Louis Van Gaal confirmed at Friday’s press conference.
Fletcher, who is out of contract at the end of the season, has been linked with a move away from Old Trafford this month, with Valencia, West Brom and West Ham linked with a move for the Scotsman.
Louis Van Gaal has confirmed Michael Carrick will miss the next four weeks with ruptured muscle, while Ashley Young is close to return to first team action.
Carrick’s injury is the latest blow for United, though it might open the door for Ander Herrera and give the Spaniard the chance to establish himself as a regular figure in the team over the next month.
Ander Herrera has described Michael Carrick as a role model, claiming the United midfielder has had a massive influence on some of the younger members of the squad.
Herrera described his team-mate as “one of the best players I’ve ever played with” and hailed Carrick’s composure as being a key factor to his important influence on the squad, both on and off the pitch.