Memphis Depay could have done a job at Man United… but he arrived at the wrong time
MEMPHIS DEPAY is not a bad player. He is a victim of circumstance.
20:52, Wed, Jan 18, 2017
| UPDATED: 21:16, Wed, Jan 18, 2017
To win the premier league you need a squad capable of doing so. Not 11 or even 18 players. A squad.
When we consider the transfer window we as fans always want our teams to sign the next top player, to sign someone who will go straight into the first team. There is derision and outcry when that doesn't happen, or if a manager has the Gaul to try and sign someone for the future.
Olivier Giroud was originally written off at Arsenal, while Arjen Robben and Didier Drogba were laughing stocks at the start of their Chelsea careers.
Anthony Martial is currently enduring the 'failed to meet his price tag' accusations after a few months of relative below-par performances that will, you just wait, disappear with time and maturity.
Memphis Depay has left Manchester United to join Lyon
Memphis Depay joined United just 18 months ago
Only a few players, such as Wayne Rooney at Manchester United, immediately make the desired impact.
That same failure to meet expectations has happened to Depay but with one significant difference – he arrived at Manchester United at the wrong time.
Had Depay been a Sir Alex Ferguson signing midway through the Scot's career then Depay would have ended up as a long-serving United squad player. Like Antonio Valencia or Wes Brown, not because he was particularly exceptional at Old Trafford, but because the managerial stability of the Ferguson era would have given him a chance to settle.
He is effectively Ashley Young but has not survived the scrutiny of his price tag.
What with the managerial volatility at United – and the desperate need to return to successful times – no one at the club gets a proper chance.
Remember in the autumn when Henrikh Mkhitaryan was written off as not good enough for the premier league? Turns out manager Jose Mourinho was just preparing the whippet playmaker for what is to come.
Depay never got this preparation. He rightly arrived with a lot of fanfare after winning the Eredivisie golden boot with PSV. The most recent PSV players United have signed – Park and Van Nistelrooy – both proved their worth in the Ferguson's side.
So why didn't Depay under Van Gaal and Mourinho? Of course the player must take some of the blame for not forcing his way into the United side, but with the pressure on Van Gaal looming over Depay's early days at Old Trafford and the sheer desperation of fans to promote those who had two good games in a row and write off others out of form, what chance did he stand?
Memphis Depay spotted looking shady as he gets into his car
Wed, January 11, 2017
Manchester United outcast Memphis Depay seemed keen to keep a low profile as he got into his £250,000 Rolls Royce after enjoying lunch in Hale on Wednesday
Eamonn and James Clarke
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Memphis Depay is spotted out and about in the village of Hale
Memphis Depay is still a regular in the Netherlands set up
Depay leaves United for Lyon with a sell-on clause and a buy-back clause in place. Jokes on social media suggest neither may ever be triggered. That is utter nonsense. Just like Mario Balotelli, you don't earn a place at one of England's top clubs without being an above average footballer.
He isn't a title winner in the mould of Crisiano Ronaldo or even Robin van Persie, but he is a good squad player. And £26m is the going rate for one of those.
Depay still has value. He is still a superb player, it's just that he was never the next wonderkid that he was prophesied to be when he joined a desperate United.
And what comes of his departure? United have lost another player that – granted – wouldn't be relied upon to tear Chelsea or Arsenal to shreds. But he could play 10 or 13 league games for United filling in when other, better players are injured, tired or suspended.
We forget that football is now a squad game, not a team game. Jurgen Klopp says he isn't interested in signing new players at Liverpool unless they dramatically improve the squad. He, just as Pep Guardiola, Arsene Wenger and Mourinho, has a bank of squad players from which to use when required.
Depay has struggled to live up to his reputation from his PSV days
And Depay was a squad player. Ok, an expensive one, but one you need when others need or are forced into having a break.
Antonio Conte's of Cesc Fabregas is a perfect example of how you don't necessarily use a player at one point of the season, but he can be used later on.
Maybe Depay would have been used later on if Mourinho had kept him at Old Trafford. If he had been Mourinho's signing you can bet that would have been the case.
Mourinho has done this before and it has come to bite back in his face. He sold Kevin de Bruyne when Chelsea manager and the Belgium international is now one of Manchester City's best players – bad current form or not. Juan Mata was also axed at Chelsea and is now a reliable United player. Chelsea sold Nemanja Matic only to bring him back a few years later.
Mata is not a guaranteed starter. He sits in the middle between that and a squad player. Title challengers need these kind of players. The Nicky Butts, the Phil Nevilles, the Martin Keowns. With them you win titles. And United have just sold one to a French league which, like Balotelli at Nice, is in itself not good enough to hide his raw talent that was overshadowed by others at United.
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