Former Manchester United defender Paul Parker has hit out at the lack of playing time for Donny van de Beek at Old Trafford this season.
The Netherlands international looked a promising purchase for the Red Devils when he joined from Ajax in the summer, but he’s just not got going so far, with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer surprisingly overlooking him.
It’s not clear why the Norwegian tactician won’t use Van de Beek more, and Parker is clearly not impressed with the decision.
Writing in his column for Eurosport, Parker has questioned why the club spent the money they did on Van de Beek if they’re not going to play him.
He also criticised Solskjaer’s tactics of opting for two defensive midfielders in most games, with Scott McTominay and Fred often the preferred partnership for Man Utd.
In some matches there is surely a role for Van de Beek, however, with the 23-year-old providing a bit more creativity and cutting edge.
Parker added that he thinks this bizarre decision by Solskjaer will also have repercussions throughout the squad as he thinks other players won’t exactly be impressed either.
“Someone like him should be on the field in a United team that is competing in the big games,” Parker said.
“Why are United always playing with a midfield two who can only break up a game, like Fred and Scott McTominay? Surely one of them can be left out for somebody who gets around the pitch, like Van de Beek.
“He’s tenacious, reads situations, he gets around the box and he’s got quick feet. You can’t tell me that’s not a player you wouldn’t want in your team.”
He added: “It’s been an absolute waste of time so far, especially given everything that is happening in the world. Finances are tight, United have spent around £35 million on a player that isn’t playing and now he is reportedly regretting his move.
“I think Van de Beek should look to Fred as an example of a player who has turned his fortunes around at United – even if his situation is worse than the Brazilian’s was.
“Fred is never going to be seen as the best, but see how he’s improved. Fred is that player people talk about, about a player fighting back, which is a bonus for him and United.
Hannibal and Elanga contracts show United learning from Pogba mistake
A double announcement was made this week as the club announced a new contract for Hannibal Mejbri, and then an extension for Anthony Elanga a few hours later.
The pair have been among United’s most productive players at under-23 level this season, combining for 11 goals and 9 assists.
The duo are both out with injury right now. Hannibal is on the verge of the first team and Elanga is not far behind.
United clearly rate the pair highly, that’s why they have both been offered long-term deals, and the foresight in doing so should not be taken for granted.
Learning a lesson
Back in 2012 Manchester United made a huge mistake by letting Paul Pogba walk out the door on a free transfer. The club then had to pay a club record £89 million to buy him back.
United were unable to convince Pogba he would get sufficient first team chances and he felt it was best to leave.
This was a mistake on so many levels, from a lack of foresight to let his deal run down, to not give him the first team opportunities to convince him to stay.
Last summer the same situation repeated itself with talented playmaker Angel Gomes.
United wanted Gomes to stay and offered him a new deal, but he did not see a credible first team pathway, and left on a free transfer.
Again, his deal should never have been allowed to run down. Gomes was at United since six-years-old and his situation was mishandled.
The 20-year-old signed for Lille and went out on loan to Boavista. Whether he ever gets to United’s level is uncertain. Not everybody can be a Pogba. It was more the principle that hurt with his exit.
Anthony Elanga’s contract has been an uncertainty hanging over him all season. His deal was due to expire in June 2022.
With a long-term contract behind him, United can loan him out next season, if that’s deemed to be in his best interests. United have avoided a potential worry of losing the Sweden youth international, after locking him into a new deal.
Hannibal is also on a long-term contract and United don’t have to worry about him departing like Pogba did.
It shows that finally, lessons are being learned. United are getting organised, planning ahead, and prioritising the academy.
The decisions from Elanga and Hannibal to buy in, shows they too see a genuine chance of a breakthrough at the club. United are getting it right at last, and it’s about time.