The Dutchman has admitted he needs game time, while his club boss has been unable to coax positive performances out of a player he has insisted he sees something in. “In the summer I turned the knob. Memphis Depay’s review of his first season at Manchester United is perhaps the most succinct of all. While plenty of onlookers have attempted to put the Dutchman’s frustrating Premier League baptism into words, Depay’s own words sum it up better than anyone’s.
However, his second term may be curtailed come the January transfer window.
The 22-year-old arrived in England as a hot-shot 28-goal marksman with PSV in the Eredivisie, but by the end of 2015-16 he was left out of the FA Cup final squad by Louis van Gaal, a man he had described as “the best manager in the world”.
Van Gaal would be sacked within 48 hours, but Depay was thrown a lifeline by new boss Jose Mourinho’s insistence that he wanted to work with the winger and help him back into form. Yet 11 competitive games into the Portuguese’s reign, Depay has played only 95 minutes of football and started just once, away to Northampton Town in the EFL Cup.
While United themselves are monitoring Depay’s form at every turn with a view to making a judgement on him before the transfer market reopens in January, Depay himself has made it clear that he is not happy with the current arrangements at Old Trafford.A supporting role is nothing for me. I’m not a player who is happy with the fact that he is at Manchester United. This is my dream club, but I want to play,” he told reporters in the past week ahead of the Netherlands’ World Cup double-header against Belarus and France. “It’s difficult. I’m ready to play but must wait for my chance.”
He has had every reason to believe his chance will come, especially in light of Mourinho’s kind words. The United boss has stuck up for Depay on several occasions, even trying to ease fears that the player’s oft-criticised lifestyle may be aiding his downfall.
“You can see him driving a nice car and you think this guy is not thinking about football, but that is not the case,” said the manager recently.
“The kid thinks about football, the kid suffers because he is frustrated with what happened last season where he lost all his confidence. But he will be back. I see a good boy, a good kid, a good professional. I don’t care what people think.
“Of course I want him to be part of my squad. Last season was last season and I don’t want to go into that too much but I know the players I’ve watched.”
But, in truth, Depay has failed to take those chances which have come his way under Mourinho just as he did with Van Gaal. A player who was given plenty of time to bed in last term was always likely to see his windows of opportunity narrowed with each disappointing display, and his eventual cup final misery came as no surprise.