Football

Adnan Januzaj fails to justify Cristiano Ronaldo comaprison

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Gary Neville said it was vital for Adnan Januzaj to impress when he was handed his first Premier League start of the season against West Bromwich Albion on Monday night.

The Manchester United legend, who is now a respected pundit for Sky Sports, believed the 19-year-old was facing a season on the sidelines if he couldn't take his chance against the Baggies.

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He told Monday Night Football: "It's a massive chance for him tonight. Because United haven't got the Champions League, their out of the Capital One Cup, there aren't the games for the lad to play.

"Because United have only got a game once a week, every time you play is going to be a big opportunity.

"He's not going to get a lot of opportunities. I think he can be a top player, I think he has to prove it tonight."

Spot on

As usual, Neville was spot on. Louis van Gaal has granted Januzaj very few opportunities to impress this season. At times last season the 19-year-old was considered Manchester United's best creative outlet. Now, he is playing in Under-21 matches and hoping for a an appearance from the bench on a Saturday.

Wayne Rooney's suspension gave him a chance to impress against a team the Red Devils should have pushed aside. However, Januzaj was one of a number of Manchester United stars who failed to impress at the Hawthorns.

Ronaldo comparison

At the end of last season, The Mail released a study that compared Januzaj's first season at Manchester United to Cristiano Ronaldo's The similarities were uncanny. They scored the same amount of goals, played an almost identical amount of minutes and created almost the same amount of chances.

Manchester United fans had the right to be excited. Januzaj clearly has the potential to be a world-class player. But comparisons with Ronaldo were certainly premature. This season is a clear indication of that.

While Ronaldo kicked on in his second season with Manchester United, starting 44 games in all competitions, Januzaj's start against West Brom was his first of the season. After last night's performance, it could be his last for a while.

Stats

The Belgium international struggled against West Brom's Sébastien Pocognoli, who together with Chris Brunt, doubled up on the youngster and negated his threat with apparent ease. Januzaj allowed himself to be bullied off the ball on more than one occasion and failed to find the target with his two shots.

He also failed to make any key passes and found a team-mate with just one of five attempted crosses.

It was a worryingly ineffective performance from the youngster, who is likely to lose his starting place when Manchester United take on Chelsea on Sunday.

Potential

Januzaj clearly has the potential to become a top player, but comparisons with Ronaldo will only serve to hamper him. Much is expected of the winger, but he will require more games if he is to reach his full potential.

The fact is that Januzaj appears more likely Manchester United on loan than breaking into the first team squad. As seen already this season, the standard of Under-21 matches is too low for Januzaj to improve. He needs regular top flight football to keep pace with Ronaldo's trajectory.

Responsibility

Van Gaal needs to make a big decision. Januzaj's development may not benefit the Dutchman, who is expected to be a short-term appointment, but he has a responsibility to Manchester United to make sure he doesn't stall the youngster's career.

If he really wants to be mentioned in the same sentence as Ronaldo, Januzaj will have to make sure he is always improving. So far this season, he has only regressed.

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Topics:
Manchester United
Premier League
Cristiano Ronaldo
Gary Neville
Football

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