Manchester United: 4 Players Seeing Their Roles Diminish
At a great club like Manchester United, there is no shortage of great players who have contributed to the team's success in recent years.
This creates immense competition for playing time within the squad, as extremely talented players often find themselves on the bench in favor of the even more talented.
Caused by the abundance of skilled footballers, a lapse in recent form, or a combination of both, the following players have found themselves on the sidelines more than they would like.
(All stats and info via ESPNFC.)
Marouane Fellaini, Midfielder
He hasn't been that thus far.
While many expected the Belgian to waltz into the starting lineup week after week with his former manager at the helm, skittish and unassertive play from the half-back position has left him on the bench with surprising frequency.
After starting four of his first six games for the Reds, he has only started one of the last five, and his uninspiring play has prompted David Moyes to experiment with Shinji Kagawa and Ryan Giggs.
With an impressive run of form, Fellaini could surely win back his place in the United XI, but he has not lived up to his lofty price tag thus far.
Javier Hernandez, Striker
With four goals in six total appearances, most strikers would be earning a fair amount of starts for their respective team.
However, most strikers don't play behind Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney.
Javier Hernandez does.
With only one EPL start through 11 matches, the Mexican international is on pace for just three domestic starts on the year, which is six less than the nine he received in Sir Alex Ferguson's final season.
In addition to his improved play, Wayne Rooney has also been moved back to his preferred striker role on many occasions this season, leaving little room for "Chicharito" on the field.
A player of extremely high caliber, the Mexican must be frustrated sitting on the bench, leading to rumors in the The Mirror of a move to Spurs in the January transfer window.
At this point, all he can do is keep up his prolific form in the Capital One Cup (three goals in two matches) and try to force his way into Moyes' plans.
Nani was a regular for many years in United's XI, but that is no longer the case.
Unlike Javier Hernandez, Nani doesn't deserve to be starting, as his inconsistent play has continued in the new campaign.
In fact, he hasn't really played consistently since the days of Cristiano Ronaldo. However, much like United's current situation in central midfield, there was simply no one better to replace him.
With the emergence of Adnan Januzaj, that has changed.
Since the 18-year-old scored two goals to defeat Sunderland on October 5, Nani has started just two games for United, whilst also being left untouched on the bench on four occasions.
Meanwhile, Januzaj has made three starts since scoring that brace. He also appeared in another match off the bench.
While the Belgian wunderkind will be gradually eased into a larger role, it is clear that he is the preferred option on the flanks going forward.
Ashley Young, Winger
With precisely zero goals and assists combined, Ashley Young's form has not been impressive this season.
The same could be said for last year, when he posted zero goals and three assists, yet somehow accumulated 24 starts in all competitions.
His poor form alone would be enough to land him a seat on the bench behind Adnan Januzaj and Antonio Valencia.
It was always unlikely that Young would match his 24 starts from last season with the poor form he has displayed, but tarnishing the reputation of Manchester United by cheating has meant he's all but solidified his role as nothing more than a benchwarmer.
Follow Manchester United Featured Columnist Jake Nisse on Twitter: