Daniel James might have sealed Manchester United role with Chelsea performance – Daniel Murphy
Daniel James probably couldn’t have imagined it any better.
After a dream summer move to Manchester United he has been on the pitch for his debut all of six minutes. His teammates have already secured the win with a quick-fire double to put them 3-0 up against Chelsea. Then it happens.
He takes a touch and then it looks like the chance has gone as a defender closes him down before he can shoot, but it isn’t.
James makes a clever dummy which takes him wider of the goal, then he hits the ball back across and via a fortunate deflection it nestles into the far corner. In front of the Stretford End.
He runs to the corner where newly-adoring fans and his family are cheering and then he is engulfed by his teammates who all seem genuinely delighted to see him grab his goal.
James’ United debut after his £15million switch from Swansea City couldn’t have gone any better, but it may just have sealed him a role of a super-sub at United – for now.
There is nothing wrong being an impact substitute, especially at James’ tender age and experience. His first United appearance was only his 40th professional game, with the other 39 coming in Championship side Swansea’s campaign last season.
But, of course, every player wants to play from the start and remain on the pitch as long as possible.
There’s no doubt that James will start games this season and, as his experience grows, he may start more and more, but for the time being he might be best used as a substitute and it’s a role that could work wonders for United.
While the circumstances of his debut couldn’t be more comfortable, with United’s heavy lead and Chelsea leaving gaps as the back as they desperately searched to mend their pride by getting on the score sheet, James still displayed why he’s perfect to bring on as a game is coming to a close.
It’s well documented that the 21-year-old posses electric pace, so much so that he has been nicknamed ‘The Flash’ by teammates and he was able to use it to exploit the Chelsea defence to score.
When the counter attack really gets in motion with a neat one-two between Pogba and Anthony Martial on the halfway line, after starting in United’s box, James is on the opposite side of the pitch and about 15 yards behind play.
The Welsh winger was then able to use his speed to exploit the massive hole in Chelsea‘s defence that wasn’t only created by Pogba’s driving run, though it was the catalyst, but also the lack of James in an attacking position.
As James is still far behind the play, left-back Emerson perhaps thought that the winger wasn’t in a position to cause any danger and went to close down the obvious threat of Pogba instead. Or he just went straight for the ball. Either way, it was a fatal mistake.
James caught up to the extent that he actually had to slam on the brakes in order to not over run the play and stray off-side, he got the ball and scored his special goal.
Be it the element of surprise as defenders discover that he is actually that fast or simply taking advantage of tired legs and tired heads, James can be a vital weapon for United to stretch and punish teams late on in games.
We’ve already seen a great example of it and it’s doubtful it’ll be the last.
James’ goal had striking similarities to his manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s first goal for the club in 1996, which also came at Old Trafford just six minutes after coming off the bench followed by emotional celebrations.
Solskjaer went on to become the embodiment of the super-sub and James may well, for now at least, follow in his footsteps.