Manchester United winger Memphis Depay has conceded his first season in English football has been a struggle, although Red Devils legend Ryan Giggs has taken an interest in helping the Dutchman rediscover his spark.
Depay joined United last summer with plenty of expectations, having fired PSV Eindhoven to the Dutch title with his superb showings in 2014-15. However, he’s failed to hit the ground running in England and has been left out of the side often of late by manager Louis van Gaal.
When asked had he lived up to expectations, per Kieran Gill of the MailOnline, Depay replied: “No. Not yet. I know that.”
I will continue to fight for it. I have a lot of expectations on myself. That's important. The club is busy and I am busy to improve it. I don't want to put a date on it or say when [I will meet expectations] but it will come. Confidence will help and experience. You learn from your mistakes.
Those moments they will come and I will work and focus on it
In his maiden Premier League season, the 22-year-old has made just 12 starts and eight substitute appearances.
Of course, plenty expected a period of adjustment and there was an understanding that such a young player would need time to hone his skills. But most United fans will be underwhelmed with the efforts of the winger so far.
As we can see here, although Depay has got on the scoresheet on a few occasions in his debut term, he hasn’t quite done it against illustrious opposition yet:
What will come as a source of encouragement to the Old Trafford faithful is that Depay is being guided by one of the best wingers of his generation, who so happens to be the United assistant manager.
“Ryan Giggs is a legend. He talks a lot with me,” revealed Depay. “He gives me advice. He experienced everything already so he can help me with those kind of things. I don't want to go into details but he works a lot with me.”
It does seem as though the Welshman has taken a special interest in Depay. According to a piece from Steve Bates of the Sunday People last year, Giggs gave the Dutchman a warning about his indulgent lifestyle.
After some strong performances in November, Depay was also quick to thank his assistant manager for his input, per Sky Sports.
Depay also hailed the influence of his captain, Wayne Rooney, insisting having such an illustrious name so close by is a source of motivation.
“Wayne Rooney gives me a lot of things to think about,” said the youngster, per Gill. “They really inspire me because that's two legends that talk with you and give you advice. They inspire me. I feel that I'm doing something with it.”
Still, as noted by Alex Shaw of ESPN FC recently, Depay has found himself back down the pecking order at United since, even turning out for the under-21 team this month:
Next season is the one which will most likely make or break the former PSV man’s United career. Clubs of the Red Devils’ stature can put up with one season of transition, but should Depay toil again, then there will be some serious concerns that he’s not quite cut out for English football, despite his obvious natural talent.
Although Louis van Gaal brought him to the club, the slow, meticulous style which the United boss implements isn’t tailored to Depay’s talents; the winger thrives in frantic contests with space to run into. Should he be given a little more freedom when out on the field, under this manager or another, then we’d surely begin to see a player more reminiscent of the previous campaign.