When fans look back on Manchester United’s season there is likely to be one bright spark – the emergence of Adnan Januzaj.
While Sir Alex Ferguson included him in his last ever match-day squad, it was his successor David Moyes who threw the young Belgian in at the deep end. And he did not so much float as soar.
Januzaj is United’s great hope for the future, arguably the most exciting young talent to emerge from Old Trafford since Cristiano Ronaldo, and now the club’s first-team coach and former player Phil Neville has been talking about the teenager’s progress.
In an interview with MUTV, Neville said, “Everyone knew we had a special talent on our hands. But the real test comes when you play at Old Trafford.
“So that was the question back in pre-season: has he got the temperament to play for Manchester United at Old Trafford? Well, I think he’s answered that.”
He certainly has, with a series of performances that oozed both confidence and talent.
While players considerably older and more experienced than Januzaj have wilted under the pressure of performing at the Theatre of Dreams, the 19-year-old has seized every opportunity and often been the catalyst that has inspired his teammates to greater efforts.
“You have to have the courage, the belief, the confidence, the determination to play for Manchester United,” Neville added. “Those characteristics are key to a player’s success here and Adnan is no different.”
He may not be different in that sense, but his skill-set and natural ability are such that he could ultimately be placed in that rare bracket of truly outstanding players.
For now it is early days, and he could do without people like me heaping undue pressure on him. But something tells me he will simply take it in his stride, like he has everything else on his brief but exciting journey so far.
And what of the future? Of the players United hope follow Januzaj into the spotlight?
“We hope Adnan is just one of many players over the next five years that comes through and plays for the first team,” Neville concluded.
If they are half as good as the Belgian, United’s future could be considerably more exciting than their faltering present.
image: © joncandy