Manchester United winger Memphis Depay delivered a man-of-the-match performance for the Red Devils in a 5-1 win against FC Midtjylland on Thursday night to emphatically book United’s place in the last-16 of the Europa League. The Netherlands international has been a figure of criticism ever since his move from PSV Eindhoven, but showed exactly what he can do against the Danish opponents, and will be looking to build on a solid showing at Old Trafford.
Depay, 22, drew rare praise from manager Louis van Gaal, who described his performance against Midtjylland as a potential “turning point” in his career with Manchester United. “I am very happy for him. Maybe it will be a turning point for him,” said the United boss. Depay still has a long way to go to paying off his £25M price tag, but performances like Thursday will do him no harm. United supporters have been raving about their youngster, and Midtjylland just didn’t know how to handle him.
No player on either side registered as many shots on target (4), no player on either side made as many dribbles (15), no player on either side whipped in as many crosses (9) and no player on either side drew as many fouls (4). Depay was outstanding. He scored one brilliant goal and played a part in two others for Manchester United on Thursday, and cemented his place in the starting eleven for a third consecutive game.
Depay recently admitted he’d been closely mentored by assistant manager Ryan Giggs to rectify his poor form, and it seems to have done the trick. “Ryan Giggs is a legend. He talks a lot with me and gives me advice to equip me. He has experienced everything already so he helps with all kinds of things, he works a lot with me,” said the Netherlands forward.
(Working with Giggs) makes me even hungrier on the training ground, it makes me want to try new things. I ask him for advice because he’s been there; he knows how to read the circumstances, how to handle situations. It is really inspiring and, at the same time, helpful. No (I haven’t lived up to my transfer fee), not yet. I know that and I will continue to fight for it. I expect a lot from myself, that is important, and the club and I are busy trying to improve it.”
Memphis Depay looked like he was enjoying his football again, and was a thorn in the side all evening. His showing against Midtjylland was called his best in a Manchester United shirt, and now van Gaal will want that to be the benchmark for the rest of the season.