Donny van de Beek has had to be patient since Ralf Rangnick’s appointment as Manchester United interim manager but the Dutchman’s cameo against Aston Villa in the FA Cup could be a turning point
Any optimism has been short-lived, while it seems that little to no progress has been made despite so much public deliberation.
Put short, it hasn’t gone that way – so far…
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In the 72nd minute, after home supporters at Old Trafford chanted his name, Van de Beek was summoned by Rangnick and replaced striker Edinson Cavani.
It promoted the Red Devils’ change to a 4-4-2 diamond formation, finally preventing Villa from penetrating them centrally and forcing the ball wide.
Although Van de Beek managed just 14 touches, his presence and composure on the ball was a welcome addition, with Rangnick suggesting that his introduction was the difference in turning the tide.
“The game against Villa today confirmed, with a minimum three central midfielders, we had problems in times of the game to control the centre of the pitch,” the United boss admitted.
“From the very moment when we changed to a diamond in the last 20 minutes, when Donny came on, from then on we controlled the game, we had our counter-attack situations.”
There fact remains that Van de Beek still has a long way to go, yet to register a goal or assist so far this term.
And his successor also wants Van de Beek to stick around, despite seemingly being unwilling to trust him with significant starts.
“So far, as I have got to know him, he has got a top mentality,” Rangnick told reporters last week.
“He works hard in every training session. He is a team player through and through. There will be games where he will get his chance to play, I am sure.
“I also had a long conversation with him last week about that and again, of course, it is difficult for him right now because he also wants to play for the Dutch national team, he wants to qualify for himself and play in the World Cup in Qatar and in order to do that he needs to get game-time here.
“But I still believe we should keep him, and he should stay here, definitely until the end of this season and try to get as much game time as he possibly can.”
In October, Van de Beek ditched agent Guido Albers and is now represented by Ali Dursun.
ESPN recently claimed that the perennial benchwarmer – still determined to prove himself in Manchester – is continuing to assess his options after a conversation with Rangnick.
The report goes on to explain that Van de Beek has ‘reservations’ over his new manager’s assurance that he’ll receive more minutes in the second half of the season.
If any loan move was to be sanctioned, the Red Devils would want the club taking him to cover his full wage until the end of the campaign and pay a loan fee.
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Additionally, it’s believed that Rangnick will be given the final say on any transfer.
Despite the looming feeling that Van de Beek’s Old Trafford career will be remembered for his time on the bench, Monday’s 24 minutes on the pitch could lead to the acclaimed German coach following up on his behind-the-scenes promise.
With United’s other midfielders and forwards struggling to adjust to their new 4-2-2-2 system, things may have fallen into place for their tactically versatile outcast to – at long last – show what he can do.