For the first time in the Premier League this season, Louis van Gaal decided to omit Memphis Depay from his starting line-up. After his poor showing against fellow title-hopefuls, Arsenal a fortnight ago, and with being in the Netherlands team who fell at the first hurdle of the European Championship tournament, Depay was sentenced to sit on the bench for United’s 3-0 win against Everton at Goodison Park.
A reshuffle of the strike force all that was required to replace Depay in the team, with Ander Herrera coming into CAM, Rooney playing up top, and impressive youngster Anthony Martial moving out to the left wing where he is impressed for France in mid-week. This attack seemed to work very well for United, with Mata and Herrera yet again showing their telekinesis-like teamwork to aid their team in the first two goals, with Herrera himself grabbing the Red Devils’ second goal of the afternoon.
On a day where Ashley Young had been ruled out with a knee injury, it seemed as though this was the match in which Depay could have played safely in the knowledge that he was the only left winger in the team. This could have been the game where he showed his true worth, having been rather lacklustre in the Premier League since moving from PSV Eindhoven this Summer for a reported fee of £19million. But it was not to be. Clearly LvG has been impressed by Martial’s form for both club and country, and after winning the Man of the Match award for France in midweek after playing on the left, who can blame him? If a player is not playing well for the ‘Iron Tulip’, they usually get dropped from the side, with the exception of captain Wayne Rooney (who has had a well below-par season so far), and Depay, who many expected to hit the ground running, has only scored 1 league goal this season, therefore his place in the side was never guaranteed.
Hopefully, the omission from the side will be the kick up the backside which Depay truly needs in order to get his Manchester United career started. After leaving ‘luxury player’ Juan Mata on the bench for a significant amount of time last season, Louis van Gaal is reaping the benefits this season, with the Spaniard scoring 3 and assisting 3 in 9 matches, as well as winning United’s player of the month for September. But will this tough-love method work for Depay? With no other uninjured, recognised left-winger in the United first team, Memphis could not be blamed for taking offence to the exclusion, although one does not expect him to, as surely he knows he is not playing to the best of his ability, scoring 22 league goals in 30 games for PSV last season.
One could argue that perhaps Van Gaal is resting his Dutch compatriot for United’s trip to Moscow in midweek for their Champions League clash with CSKA Moscow; afterall, Depay is shining in Europe, with 3 goals and 2 assists in 4 games. With Manchester City next weekend, United want all their players fully fit and in top-form, therefore it could be said that LvG was merely rotating his squad to allow all of his players minutes in order to get match fit; and with a potential confidence-booster for Depay on Wednesday, there was no real need for him to play today.