The Welsh winger scored the crucial second goal against a stubborn Newcastle side as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side kept up their push for a top four

It was about as blunt as a player will ever be on his own form “I think I’ve lost my way a bit,” admitted Daniel James, reflecting on a year and a half at Old Trafford which did not exactly follow a smooth upward trajectory

The back-breaking goal of Manchester United’s 3-1 win over Newcastle on Sunday was James’ third in as many appearances and sixth in nine games for club and country

It’s the best goal streak he’s enjoyed since hitting three in his first three games after leaving Swansea City

James played the next 32 games without finding the net, finally ending his drought in a 5-0 Europa League win over LASK Linz last March in United’s last outing before the stoppage of the football coronavirus

READ MORE: Five things we learned when Marcus Rashford and Dan James saw Man United to win against Newcastle

And as this game was played behind closed doors, it’s still 18 months since James’ last goal against United in front of all fans

It might seem trivial, but during that first streak of goals, James looked like a young player who was simply trained by being at a club of United’s stature, playing in front of a capacity crowd at Old Trafford and alive. a dream

Once at the very start of last season, he was so caught up celebrating a late tie against Crystal Palace that he had to be brought back to the center circle by Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, who wanted to start quickly in search of a ‘a winner

There was a charming innocence about this moment A year ago, James was about to join Yeovil Town on loan Now, even if one point wasn’t enough, he couldn’t help but revel in the adulation that accompanies a late goal at Old Trafford

This adulation is something few future Yeovil Town lenders have ever experienced, but so too is the scrutiny that comes when things don’t go well at United

James’ form fell off The quick start isolated him from critics for a while, but it quickly happened.The lowest ebb may have happened at the end of the season, with the loss in Europa League semi-final against Sevilla in Cologne

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was in desperate need of a change to avoid crashing, but waited until the 87th minute to introduce James, then admitted United lacked the necessary team depth during the his post-match press conference

It was a grim assessment of all the players outside of the starting lineup that night, James included

“I wasn’t playing like I started last season,” United winger conceded after the final whistle on Sunday

“I would say it was a turnaround,” he added. “There was a point last season when I wasn’t performing as well as I wanted this season, I thought about it as much as possible, thought about the matches and work on the training ground as hard as possible

“I had to watch the analysis I had the right people around to help me watch this, working with the coaches to bring me back to myself and I would like to think that I am there “

Speed ​​may be James’ greatest attribute, but the most consistent criticism of him last season was that he would struggle when opponents retreat and deny him space behind

On Sunday he was effective against a Newcastle side who deployed a similar approach The key – as he demonstrated against Steve Bruce’s side – is to provide breadth as well as pace

James often seemed uncomfortable as a right-footed right winger last season It’s not a role that comes naturally to him He always preferred to cut inside from the left

Yet few other players in the United squad can provide a natural width from the right and when James is deployed there he can extend compact and deep defenses laterally, creating the gaps necessary for the United attack to break low blocks

And if the opposing defense chooses to keep tight form, filling those gaps, it is he who stays in space. It was the case against Newcastle, in the run-up to United’s crucial second goal

James stayed wide on the right, away from left-back Jamal Lewis, which gave him time and space to finish off goalkeeper Karl Darlow once tracked down by Nemanja Matic, via the Bruno Fernandes

It was a smart game and Solskjaer mentioned how these aspects of James’ full game improve in his post-match assessment.

“He can give us the threat behind, he gives us breadth and energy defensively,” United manager said “We are delighted for him to have a goal and he is ready to do it again”

James is just thrilled to play, score and continue to party like in front of a crowded Old Trafford

“I’ve been on the sidelines a lot, but I’m doing my best to get back into the squad,” he said Having lost his way, he gradually finds it

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Daniel James

World news – UK – Daniel James welcomes ‘turnaround’ to bring a new dimension to Manchester United