They often say timing is everything…
When asked prior to the Palace win, if the timing of the Memphis Depay signing could affect the focus of his group of Manchester United players, boss Louis van Gaal responded:
“I don’t think so. We have a very professional side. I wanted to sign him after the season, but I was, Manchester United were, forced to sign him because otherwise we would lose him to PSG.”
This timing of the Depay announcement was in-fact tactical; in my eyes it was anyway. As we all know, coming into the Palace game, the Reds had lost their last three after falling to defeats to Chelsea, Everton and most disappointingly, at home to West Brom, which left many United fans asking where the clinical attacking edge is going to come from?
Granted, PSG probably were keen on the young prodigy, but the fact United agreed a transfer didn’t necessarily mean the club had to announce it publicly, does it?
After three defeats in a row, the club, the team, the fans needed a lift. Step forward the announcement of Memphis Depay. An announcement to lift everyone involved with Manchester United and an early statement of intent from van Gaal that they can still attract the world’s best prospects ahead of a title charge next season.
With a goal tally that matches his age, 21-year-old Memphis Depay is the youngest player to have scored more than 15 goals in the continent’s top 10 leagues this season. He plays with the name ‘Memphis’ on his shirt having dropped his surname as a result of a strained relationship with his Ghanaian father, who separated from his Dutch mother when he was four. Depay’s off-the-pitch antics when growing up saw him suffer a tough upbringing, but as a father-like figure Alex Ferguson did so with a certain Cristiano Ronaldo, PSV assistant boss Fred Rutten played a key role in his development, directing him onto the right track – a track which eventually saw Louis van Gaal hand Depay his senior International debut at the age of 19 against Turkey back in 2013 – Louis obviously knew of his talent from an early age.
Memphis has developed further on the international stage, impressing in the World Cup before being named on the three-man shortlist for the Best Young Player award, losing out to former United youngster, the one that got away, Paul Pogba. Many are comparing his talents to those of Ronaldo, but it’s a big ask to live up to the lofty heights of the world’s best player. A record of 38 goals in 88 league appearances for PSV may not stack up that impressively against Ronaldo’s ‘worldy’ record, but when you consider that 21 of those have come in 28 games this season his promise becomes apparent.
So how will he fit into the United’s system? Van Gaal has utilised a number of formations at United this season, but his favoured set-up is 4-3-3, which should suit Depay’s instinct to cut inside from the left in pursuit of shooting opportunities. He is however very versatile and can play through the middle or up-top. United aren’t specifically short of goalscorers, but what or should I say, who they do miss, is a Hernandez type player – a striker who runs in behind opposition defences to open up the space for the likes of Mata, Herrera and co to operate. Memphis could be this man.
Is he value for money? The transfer is to rise from £25m to a reported £30m – others may see it as a risk, but when you compare rivals Liverpool paid a whopping £25m for Adam Lallana, it seems an absolute steal. I suppose only time will tell.
Just to touch on tonight’s win against Palace….The Reds started brightly, with Daley Blind striking the post after 8 minutes (only to be at fault in the United wall for Palace’s equaliser!)
United’s pressure told when they were awarded a penalty for a Scott Dann handball. I must admit I was a little worried when I saw the ‘red dots’ next to Mata’s penalty record and wondered, as I did when RVP missed against West Brom, why Wayne Rooney seems to have been relieved from penalty duties? I was particularly unimpressed considering I had made Rooney my captain in this week’s Fantasy Football team! Credit to Mata though – a nicely placed penalty which ended a five hour, four minute goal-drought for United and took Mata to one goal shy of 50 goals in England. United looked good for the remainder of the first half, but once a second deflected free-kick in successive weeks beat David De Gea, United lacked attacking threats, they lacked a match winner, they arguably lacked a Memphis.
Thank god Fellaini stepped up again to snatch a winner, courtesy of a mistake from the Palace stopper mind!
When news of Memphis Depay move to United broke last week, he tweeted:
I always say; Dream, Believe, Achieve. I was dreaming and believing of becoming the champions of the Eredivisie with PSV and we achieved it.
— Memphis (@MemphisDepay) May 7, 2015
— Memphis (@MemphisDepay) May 7, 2015
We all wait with bated breath to see if Memphis Depay can reach that goal and lead Manchester United back to success.
Journalist Jamie can be found writing daily on Manchester United’s official club website amongst other places. Follow him on Twitter @Jamie_Journo