Manchester United’s Memphis Depay arrived at Old Trafford last summer with a big reputation, having scored 22 league goals to help PSV Eindhoven clinch the Eredivisie title during the 2014-15 campaign.
United supporters were purring at the prospect of seeing his trickery, creativity and imagination week in, week out, and some were even comparing the 22-year-old to former Red Devil and Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
It’s fair to say that Depay’s first season at Man United fell well short of expectations. Despite a handful of eye-catching displays in Europe, the winger scored just two league goals and failed to register in any of the domestic cup competitions.
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He failed to nail down a regular starting position and he even lost his place in the Netherlands national team over the course of the campaign. His miserable year was rounded off when he was left out of Louis van Gaal’s 18-man squad for the FA Cup Final triumph over Crystal Palace at Wembley back in May.
What went wrong?
Many people have offered an opinion as to why Memphis has been unable to successfully adapt to the nature of English football. In theory, his combination of speed, technical skill and pure physical strength should be perfectly suited to the Premier League.
The ex-PSV forward was in playing well until his close friend Luke Shaw, with whom he linked up to good effect down the left flank, suffered a season-ending injury at the home of his old club. One could argue that Depay has never been quite the same since that fateful night in Eindhoven.
His form dropped considerably after the first two months of the season and he became extremely inconsistent. As the pressure mounted on Van Gaal, the former United boss lost faith in Memphis and he began to select academy products like Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford in favour of his compatriot.
The 64-year-old Dutchman started Depay in just four of United’s 19 league games in 2016. His assistant Ryan Giggs reportedly gave up on the winger in April, which wouldn’t have helped the £25 million man as he struggled to come to terms with life on the bench.
What needs to change?
Many people feel that Memphis would benefit from a change in attitude, to stop thinking that he is already a star, and from altering the way in which he conducts himself off the pitch. He is still very young, and sometimes his self-confidence is misinterpreted for arrogance.
He might also gain some much-needed confidence as a result of Jose Mourinho’s appointment, who has promised to change the team’s style of play. If the “Special One” can create a side which always plays on the front foot and looks to take risk, it could lead to significantly improved performances from Memphis.
The youngster was criticised for some of his displays last term, and rightly so, but he did show a few glimpses of his true ability. Many United fans have backed him to fulfil his immense potential at Old Trafford and feel that he deserves another season to prove himself.
What does Memphis think?
The fact that the Netherlands failed to qualify for Euro 2016 gave Memphis some time to reflect on his difficult first season at Man United. As you can see in the video below, it seems to have made him a stronger character mentally and more determined than ever to succeed:
The talented winger looks focused and has already begun to work hard ahead of the club’s pre-season tour of China later this month. That said, the competition for places in United’s attacking positions next year will be very strong.
Lingard, Rashford and Anthony Martial all finished the 2015-16 campaign in fine form, and Mourinho has already strengthened his new squad with the signings of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Should Memphis receive a vote of confidence from the incoming management staff, then next season he should begin to flourish. It’s time for him to show people what he’s really capable of and become a major player for Manchester United – just as everyone had initially hoped.
Can Memphis Depay become a success at Manchester United? Have YOUR say in the comments box below!