Sat. Jan 23rd, 2021

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Manchester United have simple Daniel James decision to make

3 min read

It was a moment of sheer relief for Daniel James as he saw his shot rustle the back of the net for Manchester United on Tuesday night.

After an electric start to life at Old Trafford his stock has gradually began to fall, making his links with a January loan move hard to ignore while recent form at club level has struggled to convince.

Yet over the past month we have seen somewhat of a rebirth from the 23-year-old, now he has given Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a welcome dilemma to solve.

James’ drop-off in form began to snowball after a seven-month goal drought last season with the Welsh winger trying too hard to put things right. Upon his arrival last year everything he touched turned to goals, with three strikes in his first four appearances. But soon the magic began to fade and the former Swansea man again began to look like a Championship winger.

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Manchester United returned to winning ways in the Champions League with a 4-1 victory over Istanbul Basaksehir at Old Trafford.

Bruno Fernandes’ brace set Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side on course for a third successive win, with Marcus Rashford and Daniel James also on the scoresheet.

MEN Sport will bring you all the reaction and analysis from United’s win and the build up to the Southampton game this weekend. You can have it all delivered straight to your inbox by signing up to our daily newsletter. Just put your email address in the sign-up box at the top of this article, or simply follow this link. It’s free and only takes a few seconds.

In order to readdress his concerns on the pitch James has had to simplify his game. Few defenders can keep up with his raw electric pace but his crossing into the box remains closer to Bebe than to Beckham when it comes to threat in the final third.

While he achieved fame for his frightening pace, it is now a need to slow things down and think about his attacking runs which will hold the key to James re-establishing his regular role with match day involvement.

A successful international break under interim boss Rob Page did him the world of good earlier this month, with James returning to Carrington both full of self-belief and of confidence.

James looked bright in his cameo against Istanbul Basaksehir on Tuesday night, almost setting up Mason Greenwood with a delicate through-ball, before the English youngster set him up for his tap-in late on.

The dilemma for Solskjaer is now taking that next step forward; he might be wise to look back onto his own career when looking for the solution.

Just as Solskjaer established himself as the super sub at United it seems James would be best suited to fulfilling that role for the rest of the campaign.

There needs to be a reality check that James is not ready to be a starter every week, but against particular opposition he will be. Instead, there needs to be signs of restraint, with Solskjaer best placed to continue using the Welsh winger from the bench.

It was away at Southampton last season where James netted perhaps his finest goal in a United shirt, but such nostalgia does not mean he should start there this weekend.

After an exciting cameo there is always the temptation to promote a player from substitute to starter, in the case of James it is from the bench where he remains the biggest threat.

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