Wednesday 29 July 2015

How to solve a problem like (Angel Di) Maria (Part 1)

He was British football's most expensive signing, a World Cup finalist and regarded as one of the best players in the world at the peak of his powers. 

His capture was supposed to send out a message: that United could still compete with Europe's elite for the best players. 

But as Angel Di Maria looks set to leave Old Trafford for French champions PSG after a single year in the Premier League, United Faithful takes a look at why the £59.7 million Argentina international has failed on the very stage that seemed ready-made for his talents.

It all seemed so perfect.

In the summer of 2013, Manchester United had been looking for a marquee signing to usher in the post-SAF era.
Cristiano Ronaldo could not be lured back from Real Madrid and Gareth Bale was chased but ultimately had his heart set on joining CR7 at the Bernabeu. 

Twelve months on, the need was more acute.
Without the collective mental strength SAF  had so painstakingly forged and demanded, technical, tactical and physical deficiencies had been brutally exposed during David Moyes ill-fated tenure.

Glamour was not just required for the feel-good factor for the fans, it was a necessity if we were to compete with Chelsea, Manchester City and a revitalised Liverpool.
Meanwhile, Real, back in the 'Galactico' business of accumulating star names, had one man too many following the arrival of one of the 2014 World Cup's stand out performers, James Rodriguez of Colombia. 

Di Maria, man of the match in the Champions League final three months earlier, was deemed surplus to requirements and United vice-chairman Ed Woodward sensationally swooped. 

The Argentine signed a five-year contract on 26 August 2014 for a British record fee of £59.7m.

Talk at the time suggested that Di Maria would be paid in excess of £200,000 a week plus bonuses, and his early performances suggested such optimism was justified. 

Di Maria scored twice and claimed an assist in four of his first five games for United, including a magical chipped finish at Leicester.

United fans were captivated and left drooling by our new number seven, and Angel responded by claiming that the move to OT from Madrid represented a step up in his career. 

Working out why good things turn bad is a precarious business: but the facts are that after the victory over Everton on 5 October, Di Maria did not score again until 4 January in the FA Cup win at League One Yeovil. 

Did anything happen in between?

It's difficult to say, and maybe not one specific seismic moment but a few events rolled up and made a big one seem significant. 

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