Memphis Depay joined Manchester United after a whirlwind title winning season at PSV where he was the Eredivisie’s top scorer. However, the prodigy has fallen on tough times in Manchester and will need to show the mental fortitude to work his way out of this situation.

  • By Chaka Simbeye
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mem manjMemphis Depay’s stock has dropped nearly as quick as it has risen as he has been relegated to the periphery in the infancy of his Manchester United career. It was always going to be difficult for the young Dutchman to adapt to the increased expectation and responsibility in Manchester and now as he fills a seat on the bench, his application and focus will be much more important than his talent.

The Manchester derby was pedestrian as it spluttered from start to finish as Jesse Lingard and Marouane Fellaini were preferred to Depay as substitutions while he remained on the bench. This was testament to the rollercoaster ride that has been his first few months in Manchester filled with fleeting highs and heart-sinking lows. Now, the welcoming and honeymoon period is over as Louis Van Gaal and his coaching staff will look to assess his grind and determination to adapt to his situation and find his way back into their starting lineup.

Pre-season brought a new beginning and a new position for Depay as Van Gaal seemed to examine his initiative with a new central role in which he would dovetail Manchester United talisman Wayne Rooney. Rooney could be seen comminicating with Depay over his movement as the position was more integral to Manchester United’s play. Depay struggled with understanding when to move, where to move, when to stay and where to be without the ball.

Fans and spectators implored Van Gaal to move Depay to his favoured left wing role and Juan Mata into the centre and after a match-winning performance against Belgian side Club Brugge in the Champions League playoff, things seemed to be falling into place. The question was could Van Gaal grit his teeth and continue to play Depay on the wing? Van Gaal wanted a winger who would play closer to the touchline and only cut-in at later phases of build-up play. Ashley Young fitted this need while Anthony Martial skill and industry are a great aid to Manchester United.

Depay thrived with the freedom he was given at PSV to cut into the centre at will, while at Manchester United his movements need to be more strategic and exclusive as this is where Depay has struggled the most. He also needs the support of a fullback who marauds forward like Jetro Willems and he seemed to find one in Luke Shaw, but the Englishman’s long-term injury put a spanner in the works of their partnership.

Memphis was hooked by Van Gaal after a dismal 45 minutes against Arsenal and their speedster of a right-back Hector Bellerin. He was caught in the whiplash and intensity of the Premier League and if he doesn’t work hard enough on the training pitch, the Premier League will swallow him whole. As he is on the periphery, there will be greater focus on his character and mannerisms and he needs to respond with professionalism and a hunger to be successful at one of the biggest clubs in the world.

In the final European Qualifiers against Kazakhstan and the Czech Republic for the Dutch National Team, Memphis scraped together two very average performances. He cut in numerous times but instead of shooting, he looked to dink searching balls over the top which rarely found their man as the increased expectation is weighing heavily on him. The 21 year-old is currently in a rut in which he needs to dig deep to get himself out of.

Most foreign players who move to the Premier League from other leagues are the brunt of criticism but what sets the best from the rest is how they go about dealing with things when they aren’t going their way. His integration period has been rough and will not subside anytime soon as he will need to build on his immense talent to find a way back into the Manchester United starting line-up.

Depay will embark on possibly the most challenging period of his career to date and will need to shape up in order to silence his doubters. Criticism of his form and even his fashion sense has been high but it is how he reacts which will begin define his character as a player and as a person.

Chaka Simbeye (69 Posts)