Is it time to worry about Daniel James’ goal drought?
Manchester United unearthed a gem when they signed Daniel James from Swansea City last summer for an initial £15 million. The Wales international had a flying start to his United career, scoring three goals in his first four Premier League matches. James’ early goalscoring form at United was largely from the left, indicating how dangerous he can be cutting in from that flank and going for goal. No one truly expected the winger to make such an impact coming from the Championship. Typically a left-sided player, James was shifted to the right-wing to make way for Marcus Rashford. While Rashford has been prolific on the left-wing for club and country in recent months, James hasn’t scored since August.
James’ goal drought has stretched to 16 fixtures although he has added six assists. The winger’s lack of goals has gone hand in hand with United shifting James’ to the right-wing. It begs the question, whether the new arrival has lost his cutting edge playing out wide on the right-wing instead of his preferred position on the left. James was quoted by the Metro during pre-season saying:
“For me that left position was always my favourite but I like being versatile and playing anywhere across the front three providing I’m in the team. It’s important you’ve got to play all three and our forward players can play that. It’s good to play all three.”
When we consider his direct contribution (goal or assist) , we can see that James has been over performing a little bit. James appeared in 33 matches for Swansea City in the EFL Championship last season, scoring four goals and added seven assists in 2,506 minutes of football or a direct contribution every 227 minutes. This season, James has registered 1644 minutes or a goal or assist every 182 minutes.
The belief around the club is that the Welshman is still raw in certain areas of his game. He has been making just 1 successful dribble per 90, which is simply put – a very low number for a winger. Even last season in the Championship that figure stood at just 1.6 per 90 minutes. Also, it should be pointed out that his low volume of shots (around 1.5 per 90) and low number of touches in the box per 90 (around four) highlight why he has not been a constant threat. The pacy winger had been one of the breakout players of the season but is in danger of fading away. If James is to remain a breakout player, he needs to step up and score more goals for the Red Devils.