Man United's Januzaj Is Our Most Exciting Player Since Ronaldo
"It was a marvellous debut. I felt his penetration could make a difference for us. You must remember that the boy is only 18,” purred Sir Alex Ferguson as Cristiano Ronaldo made a grandiose entrance to English football in 2003.
Fast-forward ten years, and the retired Scot could easily have been describing the newest bright young talent to emerge from the midst of relative obscurity and into the blinding lights of the Premier League.
And although Adnan Januzaj may be fairly well known to United fans who keep a keen eye of the U21’s, or even to those who set their alarm clocks to go off a little bit earlier in order to watch the club’s preseason tour, it was today that the young midfielder really announced himself as a rising star.
Despite heading towards a rather comfortable victory against a Crystal Palace seemingly just happy to be on the pitch, Manchester United were producing a another fine example of how to win a match without a shred of excitement. The crowd had dropped off, become disinterested, and needed something to remind them that they were watching the champions of England.
And they got just that. As was the case in 2003, the United fans in the stadium all looked on with anticipation and excitement as a gangly 18-year-old with flowing hair and a reputation for flair stepped onto the pitch to make his debut.
Again, as Ronaldo did against Bolton ten years ago, the Belgian-born Albanian lifted the laboured performance of his established colleagues, and gave the crowd something to shout about. He tormented the Palace defence, running riot on the left wing and buzzing frantically in an around the penalty area like a fly trapped in a kitchen window.
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It was a performance in keeping with the way Januzaj started his season under the judging eyes of his new manager. In Australia and Japan, the 18-year-old had impressed so greatly that his name was always likely to be one of the first on the team sheet throughout the entirety of the tour.
His impact on the team was so impressive that he was tipped to start the season in the first team squad, however David Moyes has since opted to ease the youngster in, giving him a taste of the incredible physical demands of the Premier League before handing it to him on a plate.
Many United fans were left frustrated when Januzaj was not selected as part of the club’s Champions League squad for the upcoming campaign, but based on the 20-or-so minutes of brilliance produced by the Belgian on his debut, the new manager may well find himself reconsidering his stance on the youngster’s first team football ‘readiness’.
Januzaj is clearly an outstanding talent, and (in my humble opinion) in four or five years he will no doubt be one of the finest players in world football, but at 5’11” the slight midfielder currently cuts a gangly figure and may not yet be ready to cope with playing 90 minutes twice a week against players who weigh anything up to 40kg more than him.
But as Cristiano Ronaldo proved all those years ago, you don’t need to be a brute to play with the big boys; that will come with years of hard-work in the gym. Sometimes all you need to take you to the top is a bucket-load of talent, and this kid has got just that.
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