As thousands of posh, spoiled Tories descend on Manchester this week for their annual conference many of them are being met by egg wielding, tent dwelling, benefit scrounging lefties. Parts of the city centre resemble a modern day Battle of the Somme, with trenches drawn out for both sides, although it’s concrete not a boggy blood-soaked field that separates the warring fractions. There’s very little grey area in our fair city at the minute- you’re either for the Tories or against them. You either loathe David Cameron and adore Jeremyn Corbyn, or vice versa. You’re either a champagne swilling pheasant, shooting right winger, or a veggie, feminist, ban the bomb supporting leftie. It’s very black and white- or Red and Blue and there are few who would consider themselves purple.
It’s wingers of a different kind that are giving many of us in Manchester a bit of a head ache at the minute and like the societal dichotomy being witnessed at the old G-Mex, there’s very little room for indifference. Wingers by nature are either brilliant, or bemusing, amazing or atrocious, with anonymous being the only other option. One man currently personifying the very essence of what makes a winger is the man charged with the heavy burden of the coveted number 7 shirt at Old Trafford- Memphis. The Dutch international performances have become more and more frustrating to the point where his abilities are already being questioned by some of the United faithful. It’s not that Memphis isn’t gifted- he obviously is- the problem is he’s not doing enough to justify the manager’s faith in him.
Before you all explode with rage at the insanity of questioning a player who’s barely been at the club for a matter of months, I’m not advocating giving up on the youngster and consigning him to the scrapheap of bad signings. This isn’t Angel Di Maria, going backwards with a disinterested look as he approaches what should the peak of his career after breaking the club’s transfer fee. No, this is an exciting young star with bags of potential, who needs time to adjust to the fast-paced Premier League- a far cry from the Eredivisie. The problem facing Memphis and Louis Van Gaal is the winger, as is the norm for a position for which the term ‘mercurial’ seems to have been invented, is becoming increasingly frustrating and is almost guaranteed to get the curly finger during each game. Memphis has been subbed five times in his eight league starts and once in his two Champions League group appearances, for a player who we all need to be confident there’s a danger this could chip away at the swagger which made him so effective at PSV.
In the league in particular Memphis has struggled and it’s becoming increasingly obvious Van Gaal’s method of simply constantly starting him, isn’t have the effect we all want it to. It’s time for a different course of action, one which could help Memphis regain his mojo and also relieve some of the pressure on the young lad’s bulky shoulders. Memphis needs a few games on the bench, giving him the chance to attack tiring defenders and use his tricks and pace to good use without being under the spotlight from the first whistle. The winger has suffered slightly with the Anthony Martial comparisons as the Gallic wonder has had the explosive impact many predicted Memphis would following his Summer arrival.
It’s not difficult to see how easy Memphis can frustrated when things aren’t going his way which translates to frustrations for the fans. In all the vitriol aimed at Wayne Rooney during and after the Arsenal game, Memphis’s display almost went under the radar but there’s no denying he was anonymous at best.
It’s crazy to start giving up on Memphis or claiming he’s not good enough for United, it’s obvious he has the raw talent to become a star, the fans just need to be patient. Taking Memphis out of the firing line and giving him the chance to make his impact from the bench may seem like a backwards step to some, but it could be just the tonic to kick start his United career and remind us all why we were so excited when he first arrived.
There’s other options on the wings for United, be that Ashley Young or Andreas Pereira –in the latter’s case it may seem a bit daft to throw a teenager in to the side to give a 22 year-old a break, but the Brazilian seems more than ready for at least a brief stint in the starting line-up.
As the Tories prepare to depart Manchester and the leftists pack away their protest placards, let’s hope the international break gives Van Gaal the chance to reflect on how best to handle his erratic countryman and hopefully find a formula that allows Memphis to become the player we know he can be.