I wrote an article earlier this week expressing my view that Adnan Januzaj deserves more playing time for Manchester United this season, and prior to United’s latest match against Aston Villa the Belgian wonder-kid was handed his first start for the club in six months.
Januzaj was under pressure to perform but he vindicated Louis van Gaal’s decision to pick him in the starting line-up by scoring the only goal of the game, giving the Red Devils an important 1-0 victory at Villa Park in the process.
In a match with few clear-cut chances, it was Januzaj, along with fellow playmaker Juan Mata, who looked the most likely of creating something in the final third, and so it was fitting that the two combined for the goal in the 29th minute.
Having got in behind the Villa defence following a good run, and a fantastic pass from Mata, the 20 year-old showed composure beyond his years as he checked back into the penalty area, leaving Micah Richards on the turf as the Villa captain attempted to make a last ditch challenge, before steering the ball into the net off the post using his weaker right foot.
Besides his goal, the effortless nature in which he appeared to glide past his opponents when he embarked on mazy runs with the ball was wonderful to watch.
Before being replaced by Ander Herrera in the second half, Januzaj provided spectators with glimpses of the skill, footballing intelligence and natural ability that he possesses.
Van Gaal's choice
United manager Van Gaal has many talents at his disposal, many of them capable of playing in the no. 10 role. From Spaniards Mata and Herrera to Marouane Fellaini and skipper Wayne Rooney, the Dutchman isn't void of attacking nous, so it was vital that Januzaj put in a meaningful and convincing performance in what the youngster has confirmed is his preferred position.
Despite expressing his delight at Januzaj’s goal and all-round contribution to the game, Van Gaal also criticised the Belgium international for losing the ball unnecessarily on multiple occasions and encouraged the youngster to pay particular attention to the other aspects of his game.
As good as Januzaj is, and as much as he’s displayed his several technical qualities since breaking through into United’s first team in 2013, he’s far from the finished article.
The underlying sense is that he was given a rare opportunity to show everyone what he can do, and it’s one that he grabbed with both hands and made the most of. If nothing else it boosts the hope that Januzaj can use this match-winning performance as a stepping stone to relaunching his United career.
United fans, should Januzaj be given more of a chance by Van Gaal moving forward? Let us know in the comments box below.