Back in August during the summer transfer window, there was a moment of uncontrollable excitement. For so many reasons this caused fans to jump around the room and scream with joy at the top of their voice. We signed a truly world class player at his peak, from an elite club in Europe, which arguably we hadn’t done since Veron (Lazio were a huge club back in 2001). We spent a British record fee and Woodward finally showed what he’s capable of.
Then after a few weeks, a game in September was the stage for Di Maria’s best moment in his debut season at the cub. A moment of sheer brilliance. As Rooney slipped the ball onto the magic left foot of our Angel, he effortlessly chipped the ball over the Leicester keeper. It was a moment where most United fans felt that we were back. Such was the quality of the goal, and the start United made, which gave us so much to be positive about. How quickly things can change in one game of football… The rest of that match is something we should never talk about. I don’t intend on doing so here.
Since that brilliant goal, has there actually been much to get excited about when you think of Di Maria? Are we being harsh? Has he actually achieved more than we give him credit for? For instance, Coutinho has been lauded this season, whereas Di Maria has been largely criticised, and yet the Argentinian has more provided more combined goals and assists (14) that Brazilian (11).
However, Di Maria cost almost £60m and, at 27, should be at his peak. Therefore the expectation goes up. Goals, assists and performances need to be provided consistently to repay that fee.
Having said that, Di Maria is playing in a system which is still a work in progress, and has been fielded in numerous positions – this doesn’t help any player with settling in and delivering what’s expected. The graphic below, from WhoScored, shows where Angel’s best position is at United – the same position he made his own in his best, and last, season at Real Madrid.
There have been disappointments for Di Maria and fans, particularly the red card against Arsenal. We also cannot overlook the awful burglary that his family had to deal with. That would have a significant affect on anyone.
I have no doubt that Di Maria will be here next season. I also have no doubt that he is a supreme talent who will come good. Unfortunately he hasn’t quite shown us what we so badly wanted him to. Perhaps after our recent poor displays, the game against West Brom could be his moment to fire us into football’s best competition.