Man United lose patience with 'errant' Memphis Depay
The latest man to wear the iconic number seven shirt is falling down the Old Trafford pecking order
With Jesse Lingard the toast of Old Trafford after his strike against West Brom at the weekend and Anthony Martial settling in nicely there are concerns that the £31.6m Manchester United paid for Memphis Depay may have been misplaced, amid fears that the Man United number seven shirt may have lost its magic.
The success of Depay's two young team-mates is in stark contrast to the fortunes of the Dutch starlet, who has become an increasingly peripheral figure on the field as the season has worn on. His career could even be in danger of mirroring that of the last man to don the seven shirt, Angel di Maria, who inherited it from Antonio Valencia. Before him it was worn, to little effect, by Michael Owen.
Depay scored twice in United's Champions League qualifier against Club Bruges at the start of the season but has been an unused substitute in United's last three Premier League games after a dire showing against Arsenal, which saw him taken off at half time.
An error-strewn 15 minute cameo against CSKA Moscow did little to endear him to the fans and The Times reports that even within the club, patience is wearing thin with the flamboyant winger.
"Dressing rooms form their judgments quickly and frustration with Depay has been felt," claims James Ducker, who says the 21-year-old's "errant decision-making" has been likened to that of Old Trafford outcast Nani.
"Depay is regularly told that he needs to learn to release the ball more quickly and the penny has yet to show signs of dropping," reports Ducker. "Depay’s antics off the field have done him few favours: the clothes, the accessories (wearing sunglasses indoors, false gold teeth), the nights out."
He was even dropped from the Dutch team that failed to abjectly to qualify for Euro 2016, although he has now been recalled to the squad by coach Danny Blind after an injury to Anwar El Ghazi of Ajax.
At the start of the season Depay looked "strong, fast and skillful", says Scott Patterson of ESPN. "But as the weeks have gone by, Depay's stock has fallen dramatically".
Other observers agree. "Depay needs to press restart on his Manchester United career," says Yahoo. "And when he does, he then needs to take inspiration from the uncomplicated, professional approach of Jesse Lingard, before then patiently incorporating some of the mercurial touches and talent that convinced United to spend £25 million on him back into his game."
Until then local lad Lingard, who is neither flashy or flighty, will remain above him in the pecking order and affections of the supporters.