I‘ve been trying to put this issue into words for a long time, and I believe this is it. I’m not a fan of using statistics to describe a scenario, but if that’s how you want to look at this particular issue, that’s fine with me.
First of all, I completely agree that Donny Van de Beek should have had more playing time by now – it is indisputable. Fred’s form, for a long time, after that “breakthrough” season has been abysmal.
But it can be explained by a reluctance to trust such a weak squad depth last year, although this season does not entertain such a point. With an increased necessity to compete with the best squads across Europe, there seems to be no reason for Van De Beek not to play.
However, there are a variety of reasons as to why the Neatherland international is still not playing regularly. We can start by looking at how Ole prefers to line up. With 2 central midfielders, protecting a back 4 while providing a platform for the number 10 to attack.
Currently fitting the bill are Scott McTominay and Fred, with a tendency to use Matic and at times alongside Pogba in the pivot. It is explicitly evident to see why Ole prefers the former, as they possess a high pressing, bloodhound-like mentality in regards to disrupting play and winning the ball.
Whether this is the case in every game is irrelevant. Solsjkær views these 2 as his most trusted midfielders – which manager doesn’t have his preferences? And so, one may perceive two reasons as to why Van De Beek is not playing.
Either he isn’t trusted (maybe because he doesn’t follow tactical instructions as precisely as the coaches want) or he doesn’t suit Ole’s profile (let us not forget that Grealish was allegedly a priority over VDB, and this deal looks like an attempt to repair a bad situation – which begs the question; did Solsjkær even want VDB?)
Regardless of this, many will claim Donny should still be played. He is a class player as many people know, and has many qualities that could improve the football we play. And this is true – even if VDB was not the No.1 target, this does not mean his skills should not be put to use.
We have seen what Donny can bring to the team when he plays. However, Bruno Fernandes cannot be dropped as it would be nearly impossible for anyone else on the team to replicate his numbers.
Ultimately, it’s all down to whether Donny is doing enough to impress Solskjaer and his backroom staff. As fans, this is the only fairly believable reason we have in this situation. We do not know what goes on at Manchester United Football Club.
This is the point at which the article shifts. In my opinion, it enrages me to watch our own fan base massively divided over one player. To a point where hate is being shifted to the manager and some other players in defence of Van De Beek. Personally, I don’t care who this player is; the team always comes first.
Many people act as though this is the first time a good player isn’t getting as much playing time as they want. Even though we all saw his brilliance at Euro 2020, no one makes a case for Raheem Sterling this season. It’s the epitome of hypocrisy.
We then turn to what I like to call, [Insert Player] FC’s. Almost every player has them – a section of fans who follow and support the player, rather than the club. And this, which is key to note, is completely fine. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. But when these fans become toxic, it can affect a club’s support and tear up the community. This is what has happened with Donny. I admit that he is an amazing player, but calling for the head of our Manager and our club legend is disgusting.
In my opinion, I don’t believe such an uproar should have been spun by fans and the media. Donny is not a generational player, he is nothing more than an amazing talent, who we should have played more and it’s okay to admit this.
There is no debate about it; the way Solskjaer has handled him has been poor, but this hysteria is not jutisifed – he is not world class nor (I believe) will he ever be.