In what seems to have turned into somewhat of a mystery, the curious case of Donny Van De Beek took yet another plot twist in the FA Cup game win over West Ham this week.
Making just his 11th start in all competitions, since joining the Red Devil’s from Ajax for the handsome sum of £35m, there just seemed to be an air of inevitability about his impending substitution on the 73rd minute.
Van de Beek looked forlorn as he looked over to the bench, knowingly, to see his number raised and his night brought to an end.
Now, to be fair, he can’t be too upset or surprised by it, the lad has failed to set the pitch alight since his arrival and has offered mere glimpses of the quality and touch he showed for the Dutch side that one can only assume caught the eye of United.
There’s a raging debate when it comes to VDB, what exactly is he? Was he signed for the potential outgoing of Paul Pogba? Is he a rotation option in the #10 slot? There are numerous theories thrown about, but the one thing that has been prevalent from the start is the outcry of a portion of United fans, “Donny MUST start, Donny MUST play! Why is he not playing?”.
This section of the fanbase has built the kid up to be something that, sadly so far, nobody has seen in a red shirt as of yet.
As a result, that same knee-jerk section have now turned on him, along with those who grew tired of this whingeing and moaning from those who so loudly proclaimed he was the saviour and that Ole is “destroying him”, a bit hot under the collar there folks.
However, it’s VDB’s first season at the club, in a new country, where he has found it difficult to dislodge his positional rivals, depending which side of the coin you look at, in Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Scott McTominay and Fred, but this by no means he won’t come good. Not every player walks into a team and hits the ground running, there is a place for VDB at United, what exactly this is, is down to him, in his continued development and application to force a spot.
The VDB situation has already began to be replicated, as the tide has turned on Donny, the instant impact posse have a shiny new toy, namely Amad Diallo.
Amad, as he has requested to be referred to for personal reasons, arrived in Manchester a mere few weeks ago, under a cloud of excitement mixed with expectancy, maybe throw in a smidge of curiosity, in a deal worth £37m, from Italian outfit Atalanta.
The 18-year-old had made an appearance of just 59 minutes for Atalanta prior to his well-documented transfer, but is thought to be one of the hottest teenage talents in Europe, given the price tag it’s fair to assume United agree.
Since his arrival, social media has exploded in much the same way as it did for Van De Beek, with a barrage of “is Diallo playing?”, “is he on the bench?”, “why wasn’t he brought on?”.
This feels oh too familiar, doesn’t it?
In what is a much more extreme situation than VDB, who arrived with plenty of senior football under his belt, this kid does not, yet the expectation placed upon his young shoulders has already tipped to fever pitch.
How long before he does indeed feature, and if he doesn’t turn into some football manager style wonderkid with a globally discussed impact, how long before the vultures circle, to once again chew up and spit out another new signing with distaste.
Sadly, it’s how the footballing world has become.
People are all too ready to throw cleverly selected YouTube clips and FIFA stats about, to psyche others up that every player is the next best thing, denying them the much needed time to blood into a squad, a team and the limelight they will face at a club of this stature.
Give them time, both of them.
Give them their fair crack at trying to solidify themselves as worthy of first team spots and give them the time to do this without having their own fanbase being the biggest detractor, let the lad prove everyone wrong that doubts him, let him flourish.
We have already seen the media take a potshot at the kid for his route out of the Ivory Coast to a better life, a media well known for sharpening the knives to take down any young (and often black) players, with snide stories and swipes at their personality or character.
It’s hard enough, I’m sure, for these guys when everyone else wants them to fail, they don’t need their own fans behaving the same way.