Louis van Gaal admits Memphis Depay has not lived up to expectations since his £25 million (Dh140m) move to Manchester United.
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With Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and Marouane Fellaini unavailable, Van Gaal could ask Depay to lead the line for United at Watford on Saturday.
Should he be restored to the starting XI, it will be the first time Depay has started a Premier League game in seven weeks.
Earlier this summer, Van Gaal hailed Depay as the “greatest talent of his age”, but the Dutch forward has looked nothing like the man who topped the Eredivisie scoring charts with 22 goals for PSV.
When asked if he expected more of his compatriot, Van Gaal said: “Of course, because otherwise he was still in the team.
“Otherwise I don’t look for another solution and (that is why) I have kept Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira, for that option.”
Depay’s confident persona is said to have not gone down well with some at United, but Van Gaal insists the forward is applying himself correctly in training.
“Now he has to fight back and he does it, so I am satisfied,” Van Gaal said. “There is always a chance he will play. I have to see and compare players. He is always looking very good.”
Six players will miss United’s trip to Watford. Martial is suffering from a foot injury he sustained against England on Tuesday, but could be back for next Wednesday’s Champions League game against PSV. Rooney will also miss the trip to Vicarage Road through illness. With Fellaini still sidelined by a calf problem, Van Gaal admits he has a “big problem” selecting an attack.
Martial, Rooney, Fellaini, Carrick and Valencia all injured. Time for Man United to play Depay upfront, see him score, do a hat celebration.
— Sport Witness (@Sport_Witness) November 20, 2015
“Fellaini is injured and that’s a big blow because Rooney is ill, so we have a big problem, I think,” Van Gaal said. “It was a big surprise because I thought Fellaini (would have) recovered after the international break.”
As Van Gaal frets, Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores has revealed his love for the Premier League.
The former Al Ahli and Al Ain boss has so far impressed by swiftly moulding a team from a new-look squad and after 12 league fixtures leading them to 11th in the table.
“I always thought it would be hard. This league is very tough. What I have proved to myself is that all of the good signals I had from afar were right. They have been confirmed: the respect, the organisation, the tradition, the fair play, the education, the passion. These have been proved to me,” he said.
“For me, these give me happiness every day. That is why I have been able to transmit something posi- tive, because I am really happy with everything.”
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