Manchester United’s Reece James should get a fighting chance under Louis Van Gaal 0

Robbie Dunne expects to see Reece James given some kind of opportunity this season at Manchester United…

According to social media, Manchester United are hot on the heels of several top name players. From Arturo Vidal and Mats Hummels, to Angel di Maria and Edinson Cavani. The rumour mill has been on overdrive since the beginning of the transfer window. While there is an tantalising quality to gossip, maybe more attention should be paid to what is happening inside the squad?  We have read about van Gaal’s philosophy on age, youngsters and the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, and on that basis its realistic to expect development from within and a focus on organic production rather than relentless spending.

A player that has drawn much attention during United’s preseason, is young left-back Reece James. Because the club purchased Luke Shaw and rewarded him with a contract that makes him the highest paid teenager in world football, it’s natural to expect James to be a backup player, but there is a role that he might be able to play, as and when the chance arises.

Louis van Gaal is a firm believer in rewarding those players who understand the culture of a club. Reece James was given a chance by Manchester United, signing on at under 18 level, when it looked like his career was sputtering to an unfortunate and untimely halt. The 20-year-old understands the club and the kind of identity it is trying to portray, he understands what it means to play for Manchester United. While Daley Blind is a possible target for the Red Devils’, Reece James can act as that versatile threat without spending unnecessary money on a player who has no experience or understanding of English football and its core.

It may seem like a trivial detail, but this is exactly the kind of thing that van Gaal prioritises.

Maybe James the kind of player that Manchester United had hoped Phil Jones could develop into? The youngster is perhaps a little light to play at centre-half, but with van Gaal employing three at the back the need for strength has lessened at the expense of the speed needed to preserve the integrity of a high defensive-line. As a defensive midfielder, James could also do a job and has all the attributes required - especially considering that United are short on depth in the position and don’t seem close to signing anyone to fill that void. He is strong in the tackle, accurate and reliable with his passing, and has shown a willingness during pre-season to get forward and contribute within the final-third.. Comparisons to Daley Blind, who plays both left-back and as a defensive midfielder, are not without merit and, given a little bit of time, James could become the kind of utility player who is so useful to have within a squad.

Having captained the under-21’s in their final against Chelsea last season, it is evident that James’ maturity and leadership are valued by those who matter internally - so mix that with Van Gaal’s propensity to throw curveballs and it’s not unrealistic to expect to see Reece James in and around the first-team before much longer.