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Manchester United fans should be more excited about Daniel James

The antivenom to the toxic atmosphere already settling around the red side of Manchester

Illustration by Nathan Heintschel

My Twitter feed, Facebook feed, Bleacher Report rumors feed, group chat conversations, and even my across-cubicle conversations all center around the venomous undercurrent circulating through Manchester United’s digital landscape.

Who are we signing next? Are we going to sign anyone else? I bet we don’t sign anyone all summer and then panic buy on deadline day. Alexis Sánchez really screwed us. Ed Woodward is the actual Devil, not a Red Devil. Am I even supposed to feel anything for Paul Pogba anymore, or should I just succumb to my numbness?

While I’m fully invested in the #GlazersOut campaign — between terrible ownership practices and possibly the worst ponytail in the history of hair, they got to go — I want to instead focus on some positives. Therefore, I must ask you all:

Anyone else needed to be hosed down after watching Manchester United new boy, Daniel James’ highlights on YouTube?

It’s been a long time since I was this excited about a transfer signing, and, frankly, it’s freaking me out a little bit because I’m tired of getting hurt. At the same time, I don’t want to grow cynical, so I’m throwing caution to the wind and proclaiming my excitement for the Welsh forward to anyone that will listen.

The lad checks A LOT of boxes in terms of a good signing for any club, let alone Manchester United. First of which is the nature of James’s transfer which — I apologize if I’m giving Ed Woodward too much credit — seems like a great bit of business. After years of diet Galacticos signings that haven’t panned out or are still very much a work in progress, James could be a harbinger of more calculated team building; again, I apologize if I’m throwing around too much credit. Young, proven wingers like Jadon Sancho command our attention AND high eight-figure price tags, but that kind of signing brings a lot of pressure and potential baggage. James joining the team for a reported £15 million will dull the mob’s pitchforks if he struggles initially because he wasn’t 50 MiLlIoN dOwN tHe DrAiN.

United have had a dearth of diamond in the rough signings and opt for transfers that regularly break records. Frankly, I’m tired of hearing about what a heady signing Andrew Robertson was for Liverpool when he joined the team from Hull City for less than £10 million. James only needs to score a couple goals next season to eclipse the production of Alexis Sánchez at United — for several million less pounds no less, if reports of Sanchez’s wage structure are correct — and that’s an important step in the right direction.

Potential is a big theme for everyone that talks highly of James. The 21-year-old signed a five year contract after the particulars of the transfer fee were agreed upon. If James pans out at United, the opportunity for the winger signing a new contract on the cusp of entering his prime cannot be discounted, and we could be watching the Welshman producing for the Red Devils for the next decade. So, uh, good job whoever got Woodward to notice James and pull the trigger on the transfer.

James also sticks out as a solid signing because, on paper, his skill set matches the style United will want to play next season.

The one true King in the North, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was recently quoted saying, “At Man United, it’s to attack quickly...It’s playing forward, running forward, chasing back, winning the ball back.”

Well, if you weren’t aware, I’m happy to report to you that this Daniel James lad is DUMB fast. I mean, we’re talking stupid pace. The first time I watched his highlights with Swansea City this past season, I had to watch closely to make sure the video wasn’t playing at 1.5x speed. The fits that James caused Manchester City during the FA Cup made my heart that bleeds red pitter patter with unabashed elation.

I won’t get too deep in the weeds about style of play because my colleague, here, at The Busby Babe, Francisco Valladares already prophesized how James might combine in the attack, and I urge you to read his piece if you haven’t already. YouTube personality and Manchester United fan, Statman Dave recently released a video that backs up Valladares’s assertions of how James is a strong fit for United. Between Valladares’s analysis and what your eyes are telling you, James’s physical traits are exactly what Solskjaer is looking for in a winger.

James is naturally a left winger and predominantly played on that side for the Swans, but, with Solskjaer’s myriad of options on the left side, James could find himself occupying the right side which is in desperate need of an upgrade in pace. Go ahead and get some smelling salts ready because if we see a combination of James and United’s potential next signing on the right side, I’ll need to be resuscitated.

Furthermore, my anticipation rose to dangerous new levels when Welsh National Team manager and famed former United winger, Ryan Giggs waxed poetic, as reported by the Manchester Evening News, on James’s pace and potential.

”First of all, his best attribute is his speed. I mean, I’ve probably not seen anyone as quick as him in my whole career. That’s a big shout, because obviously I’ve played [with] and played against quick players.

“He can play a number of positions – anywhere across the front three, really – and, this year, he’s played quite a bit for Swansea up front, which he’s not done a lot of in the past, but he’s looked comfortable.

“He’s a nightmare for defenders. He’s not that big, so it’s hard to get your arm across him. He’s both-footed, can score goals, create goals.”

So there you have it. I just spent the last 1,000 words heaping effusive hype all over a forward player that hasn’t played a minute in a United shirt, yet. But, after the run of form exhibited by Manchester United to end the 2018-19 season, and Woodward already settling into his usual summer form of frustrating business, I’m actively choosing to find the silver lining somewhere, anywhere. Therefore, my attention and adoration is focused on an unassuming 21-year-old that is enjoying a meteoric rise in his career path instead of the nihilistic dread that seems to creep in right before every summer tour. I hope you’ll join me in sharing my ignorant bliss.