Yes, Adnan Januzaj is injured with a bad knee, but is this the extent of his woes? Can we trace a direct correlation between his plight and media attention? Or the instability at Manchester United?
Manchester United are a large conglomerate club who’s scouting mission seems endless. Forever searching for the next big player, United thought they had found just that in the multi-national, uncapped-at-the-time midfielder, Adnan Januzaj.
Naturally, any Salford Red academy graduate will jump at the chance of getting time in the first team. The fans and media alike gave early ovation as they saw an incredibly young man take to the field and play a valid part of his team’s season in 2013/14. He mustered 15 starts, with 27 appearances in total, bagging just four goals and three assists. The numbers might not be the statistics of gods but for a teenager in his first ever season at a big club; you would definitely consider this to be an amicable start.
Now, between that season and the next, the club oversaw some managerial movement. Moyes-Giggs-Van Gaal. The Dutchman was now at the helm and clearly valued Adnan less. He only saw half the player than the Scotsman did and played him half as much, as his game time shrunk to around 50% (to what he played under Moyes) when Van Gaal entered the club. That’s one way to rain on a player’s parade, not play them when he is enjoying a decent run of form.
Yet we must also consider the part of the British media. The tabloids and click-bait spewers found that Januzaj, who had been living in England for some time, could play for England should he stay in the country for a little longer. This gave the player a further choice to his existing options: Belgium, Kosovo, plus Albania. Yet, it would have taken close to four years for Januzaj to actually qualify to play for England, so this was never going to happen. He chose Belgium a long time ago and has since played for them a few times, notably against England in this year’s World Cup. This caused hysteria as many voiced their opinion on whether he should or he shouldn’t play for England.
In this media frenzy surrounding the youngster, he was also seen dining at Nando’s on a date. He was criticised for earning lots of money yet dining at an affordable chain restaurant, especially with a lady he was trying to impress. Labeling him a cheapskate and what not. He’s a professional footballer, at such a tender age this wouldn’t have helped him.
A jarring experience with The Black Cats
It’s after this there is a visible decline. First, there was the less than fruitful excursion to Borussia Dortmund where he started exactly zero league games and scored as many goals. He played in their Europa League campaign more, but the Bumble-bee club exited in the round of 16 there. After his loan in Germany, he was criticised by then manager Tuchel.
After which we saw the loan move to Sunderland, an incredibly jarring experience for all parties involved. You’d think that reuniting with David Moyes who reignite his career, given it was the Scotsman who unearthed him at Manchester United. He got the time but wasn’t so effective. The Black Cats were relegated, in the process, the Belgian was reduced to the play with the reserves at one point.
He’s now with Real Sociedad, but yet to play so far this campaign. On the recovery bed with an injured knee. Last year was his first in Spain. Much like the club’s fortunes, he was inconsistent. 18 starts, 16 of which he was subbed off. Five assists and three goals, overall the team finished 12th in La Liga. Not much to write home about.
He made one lone appearance for Belgium at the World Cup. He scored the winning goal against England, with head coach Roberto Martinez previously going on record to say the objective was not to win.
He collected a bronze medal with his national teammates and later went on record to the press; claiming he’s always felt Belgian, because he was born there. He’s not always been so clear cut on the matter. He tried to call time on his critics, but provoking the press is never a good thing – especially when you’ve failed to make an appearance all season plus the big moves you were rumored to make (Manchester United/Everton) didn’t materialize.
The media can’t take the entire blame, but certainly had a hand to play with the player himself, and ultimately the unstable duration at Manchester United in which he was supposed to flourish.