For the past few seasons Manchester United supporters have experienced a buzz whenever they have heard the words ‘James Wilson’. At just 19 years of age the kid from Staffordshire had exceeded every expectation at youth and reserve team level, scoring spectacular goals with flair and consistency. So much so that at the end of last season he was given his first team debut, which he grasped with both arms scoring against Hull City and firmly slotting himself into the future plans of a certain Mr Ryan Giggs.
This year Wilson has been integrated into the first team but he’s failed to cement a place in Louis van Gaal’s starting eleven scoring just once. With a lack of game time there has been doubt creeping into the minds of some United supporters and even United legend Paul Scholes has suggested Wilson needs to do more to cement a place in LVG’s first team plans.
Speaking in his column for the Independent Scholes talks about difficulties of stepping up from reserve level.
“That difficult moment when you have to move from being a kid with potential to a consistent first-team regular who is one of the mainstays of the team is hard for youngsters”
Scholes also discussed Wilson’s role as a substitute at Manchester United, as being similar to the issue Everton’s Ross Barkley faces for England, where he is getting playing time off the bench, but not making enough of an impact to demand more starts.
“Many don’t get the opportunity in the first place, or if they do they get only a brief one. At Manchester United, for example.. James Wilson has been given a number of chances this season and although he has done well, at no point has he made it impossible for Louis van Gaal to leave him out”
Scholes himself was one of the greatest players to ever grace a football pitch. So it’s not unusual to think his standards are going to be pretty high for young James, but has his assessment of Wilson’s first team appearances been fair? After all the United youngster has had to battle it out with the likes of Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Radamel Falcao for a place in the starting eleven, all players with huge commercial interest for the club. Has he had the game time to get a run of confidence? I’m not so sure.
According to Squawka James Wilson has made a total of 12 Barclays’ Premier League appearances this season, scoring just once. Of the games he has played 87.3% have been as a substitute. His pass completion is sitting at a fairly average 75% but his shot accuracy is well below par with just 50% reaching the target, however even United captain Wayne Rooney isn’t fairing much better with just 53% of his shots at goal reaching their desired destination.
What these statistics seem to suggest is that James Wilson usually comes into play when the game is at a more comfortable stage and United are closing it out. Shot accuracy will be effected as there are less clear cut chances and Wilson would have to settle for shooting from distance if his team mates are happy to pass the ball around and close the game out. Of his 8 shots at goal 3 have come from outside the penalty area.
Paul Scholes is right we do expect a lot more from James Wilson, but without a consistent run in the side it’s impossible to go on a goal scoring run regardless of whether you’re James Wilson or Wayne Rooney. If as expected Radamel Falcao leaves in the summer this could be the opportunity for Wilson to step up, but until then he needs to keep believing in himself and working hard in training. What James Wilson does represent is a bright future and as we are in age where the FA are targeting a change to the rules regarding home grown players he won’t be going anywhere for the formidable future.