Manchester United’s Januzaj should remember the ghost of Macheda

The youngster would be wise to recall another Red Devils one hit wonder.

After Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Southampton, United fans would be forgiven for wondering whether Adnan Januzaj is set to become the latest in a long line of one-hit wonders in the Premier League. Prior to the game, the 18-year-old had been the talk of the town with much of the discussion focusing on whether he would represent England, Belgium or one of the other four nations he is still eligible for at international level.

But on the basis of the weekend’s showing against the Saints, Roy Hodgson may not be losing any sleep just yet about the player’s availability for the Three Lions.

Though a thoroughly competent performance, in which he came close to scoring on one occasion, the reality is that in 90 minutes of football the player failed to have the kind of impact seen in his previous performance against Sunderland.

Despite touching the ball 58 times, Januzaj managed just a single effort on goal with a pass accuracy of just 79% which pales when compared with the efforts of teammate Nani who, though subbed off after 69 minutes, boasted a passing accuracy of 88% as well as completing both one shot and one dribble in just 42 touches.

The Portuguese also completed four tackles – double the amount recorded by Januzaj, while his opposing number Adam Lallana won more dribbles as well as a third of his aerial duels and a superior passing accuracy.

Though the numbers don’t completely reflect on the youngster’s overall performance, it serves as a reminder to David Moyes and the Manchester United hierarchy that Januzaj should be handled with care.

A few years back Federico Macheda was the toast of Old Trafford after his late winner against Aston Villa maintained United’s title pursuit, with the Italian following that effort up with another late goal in a game against Sunderland.

The end of the season saw him given the Jimmy Murphy Academy Player of the Year award, with bright things expected for the future and talk of international football with the Azzurri.

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But fast-forward to the start of the current campaign and Macheda was plying his trade with Doncaster in the Championship, after barren loan spells in the Italian and German top-flight with Sampdoria and Stuttgart respectively.

Though impressive in his spell with Rovers earlier this term, it remains a relative step-down for a player once tipped for the top of the game and offers a warning to Januzaj and other youngsters out there.

The example of Graham Fenton provides another timely warning.

Signed as a youngster from West Brom by Blackburn Rovers, the Englishman’s one shining moment came in a key league clash against Newcastle United, where his two goals ultimately destroyed the Toon Army’s title challenge for the season.

Big things were expected of the forward, who was seen as the natural successor to the outgoing Alan Shearer, but despite those two goals, Fenton went on to score just seven in 27 matches before being offloaded to Leicester City.

Now 39, he was last officially on the books of non-league Blyth Spartans playing in the Northern Premier League Premier Division.

Ultimately high expectations played a part in both players’ failures, though with Macheda being blooded through loan spells while Fenton remained in the first-team mix, it’s hard to say which approach Moyes must take with the youngster.

And after struggling to utilise a younger Wayne Rooney and, more recently, Ross Barkley at Everton, question marks remain as to whether Moyes knows how best to nurture young talent within the first team squad.

Januzaj may not believe in ghosts, but he and Manchester United would be wise to heed the warnings of those past, if he is to have a bright future.

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