“Memphis should concentrate fully on football. It would be a shame if someone like Memphis is going to be wasted because of all this side stuff” – Ruud Gullit.
A talented young player with a poor attitude; it has become a worryingly familiar trend in modern football.
Memphis Depay arrived at Manchester United in May 2015 on a wave of optimism. The young Dutch winger has long been touted as a future superstar., and Man Utd fans rejoiced at the £25 million signing.
Depay burst onto the scene at PSV, scoring 50 goals in 124 games for the Dutch side, all before his 22nd birthday. In PSV’s 2014–15 title-winning season, he was the league’s top scorer, with 22 goals in 30 games.
He also enjoyed an impressive World Cup in 2014, under the tutelage of Louis Van Gaal.
Two stunning goals against Club Brugge in August left Man United fans salivating. It looked like they had found a new star.
However, his form has been patchy, and that’s being kind. His indifferent performances have led to him being dropped from the Dutch squad, and there have been questions about his work rate and attitude.
Simply put, he hasn’t been good enough.
Holland manager Danny Blind explained his decision to drop Depay in November;
“I think Depay is a player for the future but there are other issues to look at.
“Perhaps Van Gaal has also said something. Of the last five games, he has been in the team at United just once.
“In football you must function in a team. He doesn’t always do that. That’s something he has to learn.”
It is difficult for any young player to slot in seamlessly at a new club, particularly at one the size of Manchester United. People may say that Van Gaal’s slow, cautious playing style isn’t doing Depay any favours, but a poor attitude is inexcusable.
Depay has been withdrawn at half time three times already this season, and that is a worrying statistic indeed. He has admitted himself that he has struggled thus far to adapt to the pace and rigours of the Premier League.
After being withdrawn at halftime in the 3-0 defeat to Arsenal, Depay went out on the town. This earned him a strict warning from Ryan Giggs about his lifestyle.
Depay also drew the ire of the United faithful after his embarrassing attempt at a diving header against Stoke, which led to the Potters’ first goal in what was eventually 2-0 defeat at the Britannia.
Last week, Dutch legend Ruud Gullit had some stern words for his compatriot in De Telegraaf;
“He needs to deliver. He has a lot of qualities, but to fulfil his potential he has to stay low-key in his personal life.
“If you don’t perform, you must not turn up in a brand new Rolls Royce and a new Hummer at the training ground.”
Confidence is a key required attribute for any top player, but Depay seems to have more confidence than hunger. Photos have emerged of his flashy cars, some of which feature his initials and jersey number embroidered on the seats.
Such actions are reminiscent of Kieran Richardson, or Jermaine Pennant. Depay is certainly more talented than either of those players, but he could end up like them if he doesn’t get his act together.
After being dropped for 4 consecutive matches, Depay produced a man of the match performance, and a goal, in the 2-1 victory over Watford at Vicarage Road.
He also impressed off the bench during Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Sheffield United, and United fans will be hoping that this is a turning point for the winger.
It is worth noting that Louis Van Gaal hasn’t hesitated to sell under-performing players in the past, such as Di Maria. Indeed, LVG publicly warned Depay not to follow in the Argentinian’s footsteps;
“Some players cannot adapt to the team philosophy. That you cannot know in advance. You have to see that.”
“That also happened with Ángel di María and [Radamel] Falcao – both great players but you have to fit in with the philosophy. Not only with Memphis, with every player that we have bought.”
Depay is undoubtedly talented, and at just 21, there is plenty of time for him to mature on and off the field, but he needs to improve both his attitude and his performance sooner rather than later.
It is up to him to decide whether he wants to be Cristiano Ronaldo or Mario Balotelli.
by David Smith