The curious case of Memphis Depay and why he failed to shine at Manchester United

There are been few footballers in recent years with hype surrounding them like Memphis Depay. Tipped to go on and emulate Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United the Dutchman failed to live up to expectations at Old Trafford.

For a player gifted with so much ability and blessed with such unique talent it makes one wonder why Depay didn’t make the grade at United and throughout this piece we take a look at why he failed to do just that.

Having flourished in the Eredivisie with PSV Eindhoven, Depay was very much a wanted man in the summer of 2015 with the likes of Liverpool, AC Milan and the likes all said to be keen on taking the youngster on board. But it would be Manchester United who eventually won the battle for his signature, paying the Dutch club a hefty twenty six million pounds for his services.

It didn’t take long for the United faithful to see just how potentially great of a footballer Depay could be for the club. A man of the match display against Club Brugge in the UEFA Champions League at Old Trafford followed up by impressive displays against Tottenham Hotspur and then Newcastle United in the Premier League made it clear the Dutchman was a real talent and one which could go on and really make a name for himself at the club.

The problem was seeing those type of performances on a more consistent basis and that turned out to be his downfall at the club.

As the months followed United’s season slowly but surely began to fall apart and so did Depay’s. The loss of Luke Shaw was always going to be a huge blow for the club, but it hit Depay in particular extremely hard. The pair has struck up a delightful partnership down the left hand side and without Shaw in the side Depay struggled to adapt.

A costly error at the Britannia Stadium against Stoke City followed by a run of poor performances in the league over the Christmas period left Depay out of the starting eleven and onto the substitute’s bench. Manchester United coach Louis Van Gaal had a habit of removing players from the first team after making mistakes in games and this time it would be Depay to pay the price.

However there would be one more final piece of magic from Depay before the end of the season and it came against FC Midtjylland in the Europa League at Old Trafford. The opposition may not have been the strongest, but it was arguably one of the finest individual performances Old Trafford has ever seen as he twisted and turned the Danish defence inside out. One whom certainly agreed with this sentiment was Midtjylland defender Andre Romer:

I’ve never been so close to crying after a match as I was today. Memphis is the best player I have ever faced. It was difficult to do anything about it when he plays like that

It was a timely reminder of how magnificent a player Depay could be on his day. He was a player that was desperate for a consistent run of games to get his form and confidence back, and in the latter half of a season where ‘The Red Devils’ ultimately finished 5th, it just didn’t happen.

The following season seen the arrival of Jose Mourinho to the club and before the Premier League campaign had even begun Memphis Depay’s time at the club was already up. Two below par performances against Wigan Athletic and Borussia Dortmund during pre-season was enough for Mourinho to cast judgment on the Dutchman, signalling the end of his career at Old Trafford.

It was only a matter of months later when it was announced Depay would be leaving the club to join French side Lyon and its been a familiar story with inconsistency remaining the 26 year-old’s biggest flaw. And without a reversal of that trend, it will be that inconsistency which will stop Depay from fulfilling his true footballing potential.

The Author

Alex Brian

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