James Wilson bursted onto the first-team scene at Old Trafford in May 2014 with two goals on his senior Manchester United and Premier League debut against Hull City. Prior to that, Wilson was scoring for fun at Under-18 and Under-21 level, having been brought up through the club’s youth academy.
This season however, Wilson has been struggling to get game time in the senior team, playing only 53 minutes of football for Louis van Gaal’s side. As a result the United manager recently allowed the 20-year-old to move to Brighton & Hove Albion on loan for the rest of the current campaign.
There’s no doubt that United are in desperate need of goals and Wilson scored a wonderful goal in his second game for the Seagulls, so was Van Gaal right to loan out the promising centre-forward?
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Why Wilson needs a spell away from United
At the age Wilson is at, he needs to be playing regular first-team football in order to continue his development as a footballer. In Brighton, he has joined a side who are currently third in the Championship and who have only lost once all season.
Therefore, the team that he’ll be playing in will be looking to attack the opposition at every opportunity and he’ll learn to handle the pressure of being near the top of the table. The desire to get three points every week is something that will stand Wilson in good stead for when he returns to United, who of course are expected to win the vast majority of their games.
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A spell away from United could be very good for Wilson because it will enhance his footballing education. At Brighton, the English youngster will be working with different players, a different manager and he’ll learn a different way of playing the game.
Some fans would argue that United’s players as a whole aren’t the problem and that, in order for the Red Devils to rediscover their goalscoring touch, Van Gaal must adapt his philosophy.
Why Van Gaal should’ve kept Wilson at United
Lots of Man United supporters think that Wilson shouldn’t have been loaned out because now the club only have two recognised strikers in captain Wayne Rooney and 20-year-old Frenchman Anthony Martial. Rooney, who is currently recovering from injury, has struggled for form throughout the season but Wilson definitely knows where the back of the net is.
He scored bags of goals in United’s youth ranks and he’s already notched twice in just four starts at Brighton. Also, if he had stayed at Old Trafford he could’ve reduced the goalscoring burden on both Rooney and Martial.
Additionally, United and Van Gaal have been widely criticised this season for their pedestrian style of football and they really need an injection of pace into their attacking play. Like fellow United academy product Jesse Lingard, Wilson is quick, athletic and willing to work hard off the ball. However he also possesses strength, fantastic movement and composure in front of goal.
A useful detail is that United have the option of recalling Wilson from his loan spell at any time during the remainder of the season should they want to bring him back early. It’s a shame that he didn’t get a run in the team like fellow youngsters Guillermo Varela and Lingard are doing because he would add dynamism to the current United team.
In my opinion, Wilson needs to be playing regularly. Since he wasn’t getting any chances at United this season, he had every right to seek a loan move away in an effort to begin proving himself at senior level. Judging by the way in which he’s started at promotion hopefuls Brighton, it looks like the decision to loan out Wilson will be beneficial for them, for Manchester United and for the player himself.
Manchester United fans: Would you recall Wilson if given the chance? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!