Football

Adnan Januzaj can avoid second-season syndrome at Manchester United

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Second-season syndrome, the football cliché uttered many times by football pundits and fans alike when a player just can’t hit the heights he managed during his debut campaign.

We’ve seen it countless times in the Premier League over the years, with Christian Benteke perhaps the biggest victim of increased expectations this campaign.

It is Benteke’s new international teammate and Manchester United starlet Adnan Januzaj who should be wary of the dreaded ‘second-season syndrome’ heading into the 2014/2015 campaign.

The youngster was thrust in to the spotlight after a match-winning performance against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light last October, when he scored two goals, including an exquisitely-timed volley.

After a strong debut season, those at Old Trafford will be relishing the thought of what is to come. But is it possible that Januzaj may not kick on in quite the way that fans hope next year?

One issue might be the increased expectation. Next year the young Belgian will be a fully-fledged first team player and although some leeway may be handed to him due to his tender years, he will still be expected to deliver quality performances on a regular basis.

Some players simply cannot handle that pressure. However, having watched him throughout his debut season it would appear that Januzaj has the temperament for this as he rarely, if ever, looks out of his depth on the pitch.

Another pitfall that players looking to avoid second-season syndrome need to steer clear of is the Premier League bully boys. Skilful players - particularly those who are as young and slight of frame as Januzaj - can often find themselves the target for some rough treatment.

The idea behind such tactics being that the player will either go in to hiding, fearing further punishment, or eventually lose patience with a lack of justice and take matters in to their own hands, often leading to needless bookings or worse.

Once again, it appears the United youngster has nothing to fear here as he was roughed up on more than once occasion last season but kept coming back for more, never once looking like someone who was afraid to get the ball.

Perhaps more importantly he never retaliated in kind, he appears to be a very cool customer.

This season we’ve seen teams figure each other out, most notably when Chelsea denied Liverpool the space their forwards craved at Anfield and this ability to figure out a game plan or style of play can be magnified to look at individuals.

When someone arrives on the scene as unknown quantity it is difficult for opponents to know exactly what to do with them. However, with a full season worth of matches to review, Januzaj is no longer a mystery to the rest of the Premier League teams.

One thing in the young Belgian's favour is that although you might know what a player is going to do, it doesn’t make it any easier to stop them; especially if they are as talented as Januzaj is.

We only need to look at former Chelsea winger Arjen Robben to prove this. The flying Dutchman has been cutting in onto his trusted left peg for over a decade now yet players still struggle to stop him.

Whilst Januzaj is left-footed too, he is certainly comfortable using both feet so perhaps the opposition still have a bit of figuring out to do.

The only other thing - injury aside - that can stop Januzaj enjoying an equally impressive follow-up campaign is himself. He needs to ensure that his head isn’t turned by admiring glances from elsewhere and just as important he must not get an inflated sense of worth.

He is an undeniable talent but he is far from the finished article. If reports about him turning down a huge money-spinning deal with PSG are to be believed, then it would appear his head is certainly screwed on.

Overall, it appears that Januzaj has all the ingredients needed to avoid the pitfalls of second-season syndrome and continue his meteoric rise to prominence at Old Trafford. Let’s just hope Louis van Gaal agrees.

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Topics:
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Manchester United

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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