Man Utd fans snap up Ronaldo shirts at Old Trafford
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Dan James has admitted he sometimes played too “safe” during his time at Manchester United after leaving Old Trafford for Leeds United. James joined Leeds in a £30million transfer on deadline day and is now looking forward to beginning a new chapter of his career under Marcelo Bielsa.
The 23-year-old winger has signed a five-year contract with Leeds and could make his debut in the club’s Premier League match against Liverpool on Sunday.
Leeds came close to signing James from Swansea City in January 2019 before he signed for United two years ago and he is a favourite of Bielsa’s.
James started brightly under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, scoring three times in his first four games at the start of the 2019/20 season but failed to find consistency in front of goal.
The Wales international contributed just nine goals and nine assists in 74 appearances across all competitions for the club.
Having sealed a move away from Old Trafford, James can now reflect on his time under Solskjaer and he feels he became too risk averse towards the end of 2019/20 and the start of last season.
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“I think everyone goes through part of their career where you don’t realise something is happening until you look back and have good people around you to analyse that,” he told The Telegraph.
“I started thinking, ‘What does he do that I can do?’ rather than thinking just about my game and being myself. It got to the point where I was being a bit safe in games.
“I got bought for my direct play, running in behind, running with the ball, trying things and not being afraid to lose the ball but slowly I started to come away from that and play a little safe.
“When I stepped back it was remembering to be direct, to be that person. Safe is dangerous in the position I play.
“You’re not there to do that – you’re there to score goals and make assists and run yourself into the ground on and off the ball.”
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James left United at a good time, with his game time far from certain following the return of Cristiano Ronaldo to Old Trafford.
Ronaldo joined Jadon Sancho in a promising transfer window for United, further increasing the competition for places in Solskjaer’s side.
He is not assured a place in Bielsa’s side either, given the consistency of wingers Raphinha and Jack Harrison, but he is looking forward to the new challenge.
“You’ve seen with the players he’s had over the years how much he’s improved them and that’s the thing I’m looking forward to most – seeing how he sees football,” James said.
“He obviously thinks I can fit in that system. But don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m going to walk into that team.
“Hopefully I can adapt quickly to the system but I think it’s going to take me a little while. It’s very tactical but he’s got a way of playing that I feel suits me.”
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