Donny van de Beek’s life at Manchester United did not get any better on Tuesday night and two pundits believe there is a worrying issue with the Holland star.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer handed the £35m summer recruit a rare start in the 1-0 FA Cup win over West Ham.
Van de Beek has made just 11 starts, mainly in the cup competitions, since arriving from Ajax. Life has been difficult for the 23-year-old, and with Bruno Fernandes ahead of him his chances have been few and far between.
The midfielder got 73 minutes against the Hammers to impress, but he struggled to get into the game. And Fernandes replaced him in the second half as United went on to win 1-0 in extra-time.
Former Man Utd star Mark Hughes, who won two Premier League titles and three FA Cup trophies at Old Trafford, there is an underlying issue of trust with Van de Beek.
“It looks like they don’t trust him with the ball yet,” Hughes told talkSPORT.
“When the likes of Fred and Matic look up and they see Rashford, they see Martial, they see Greenwood, who is still a young player but has great talent, it’s like they defer to them, their first thought is to pass to them.
“Van de Beek, I haven’t seen a great deal of movement, I haven’t seen little movements to get in pockets of space, even though you suspect that’s the player he is and those are the areas he wants to work in.
“He’s been disappointing again. He’s playing for Manchester United, a huge club, he’s got to show more than he’s showing at the moment.
“You want to give the boy a chance, and he probably feels a bit aggrieved that he hasn’t had a run of games, he’s probably feeling a bit hard done by.
“But you have to say, given what he’s produced in the time he’s had, he doesn’t deserve more than that. ‘So he’s got to show more.”
The look on Van de Beek’s face when the subs’ board went up on Tuesday night told it’s own story. An image of resignation.
“That look on his face there I’ve just seen sums up unfortunately the way he’s playing at the moment, with a bit of fear and a lack of rhythm,’ said Jermaine Jenas during commentary for BBC Sport.
There’s ‘a bit of an issue’
Jenas though exonerated the player of blame and believes there is a problem with his team-mates not “looking for him”.
“I honestly don’t think it’s his fault. He’s out there being professional, doing everything he possibly can,” said Jenas.
“But when you don’t have that run of games in your system or belief that you can go out there and afford to make mistakes, you don’t show the full version of who you are, and that creative streak which got him to the football club in the first place.
“It still feels like everything is taking a bit too long. You have to be careful not to try and think Van de Beek can do what Bruno Fernandes can do. He’s his own type of player.
“I think Van de Beek is still working out of what he is for Manchester United. I’d still like him to want the ball a bit more.
“Maybe have a shot instead of passing it back or passing it sideways. This United do not look for him, which is a bit of an issue.”