Quite a few eyebrows were raised in the summer when Manchester United parted with around £18 million to sign Daniel James from Swansea City.
For some it seemed a lot for a winger with no Premier League experience and who looked to be joining Leeds United on loan just six months or so before.
No one’s questioning the logic of the transfer now.
James has been the biggest success of the early stages of this season so far. From scoring at the Stretford End seven minutes into his debut, to grabbing three goals in his first four outings in a red shirt, James is rightly getting all the headlines.
He’s the shining light in what’s been a fairly dismal start to the season for United. The fans are getting behind him with chants of “James will tear you apart” and he clearly has the trust of the manager.
When United return after the international break against Leicester at home, James has to start and he’ll no doubt be carrying the attack once again.
What’s been so impressive about his early life in a United shirt is the way he’s adapted to his new surroundings and clearly taken on board exactly what’s required of him. He’s improved as a footballer already and looks every bit the United player.
During pre-season, his pace was evident, but he felt raw. As is often the usual criticism of young wingers, he lacked an end product. But he seems to be bringing it to his game already. Opposition defences are scared to death of his pace -but he’s got more in his locker to hurt them.
He’s a goal threat from either the left or the right. What Ole needs know is for the rest of the forwards to find some form and combine together on a consistent basis.
The manager has spoken about the need for his forwards to start scoring dirty goals. That’s definitely required, but his assessment of the Southampton game that United created a lot of chances was a little wide of the mark.
What they did create were speculative shots from outside the box and often the result of individual effort as opposed to sustained pressure or a cohesive team move.
A lot’s been made of the age of United’s forward line. No one’s questioning the ability of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood. The question mark is against their mental strength to step up and carry the team.
Despite having a decent amount of experience, what Rashford and Martial in particular miss at times is game management and how to adapt to specific situations.
Look at someone like Juan Mata’s influence on James’ goal on Saturday. He knew his movement would create space for James to cut inside. It was cute and what you expect from someone with his experience.
Mata might not be suited to the pressing and fast breaking Ole demands from his forwards, but the young players can learn a lot from his adaptability and game management.
At the moment, we’re seeing running into blind alleys and no real pattern of play from the forwards.
But it will come. Ole truly believes it will and he has faith in these forward players. And fair play to him. United fans all want to see them succeed.
Solskjaer is clearly trying to break the mould and do things differently to his predecessors. That requires patience from the terraces.
The fans need to accept that unfortunately there’ll be some performances like Saturday, But there’ll also be some attacking displays like the one against Chelsea on the opening day of the season.
The more the forwards play together, the more they’ll gel, and the wins will come. Once they start firing, expect some exciting and potentially scintillating football.
James is doing it already. It’s time for the others to step up.