Most of you can probably still remember the exact moment you heard Ángel Di María had signed for Manchester United.
To the amazement of the footballing world Ángel Di María, Real Madrid and Argentina superstar had signed for a club not playing in the Champions League this season.
Wow. Such is their pull and financial muscle that the Old Trafford giants had lured the Man of the Match from last season’s Champions League final to make the move to the Premier League. He was the engine that drove the Galacticos to La Decima, at long last.
Behind all of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale’s brilliance was the Argentine, whose move into central midfield led to seven goals and 22 assists in La Liga and the Champions League (the most assists in any top division in Europe).
His signing was a game changer, a seismic shift in the power struggle amongst the world’s most lucrative domestic competition. It was the beginning of a bright new era for United, with Di María anointed Luis Suarez’s successor as “the guy” in the Premier League. It’s not panned out exactly like that quite yet.
But you can see now why expectations were so high. After a fast start at the club Di María hit the ground running, capped off by a sensational chipped finish away to Leicester.
Injury curtailed his bright start, and inconsistency on the whole can define the rest of his time in Manchester thus far. Perhaps its expectations, maybe it’s just merely frustration.
And hey whose easier to get mad at besides the club’s manager than their star man and record signing. Seems fair to some. But it isn’t, despite understandable struggles and injury woes which have led to some concern.
But when he is gliding past defenders with ease all those concerns go away. There’s not many better in world football picking the ball up and running from deep at speed.
His best position at the club is yet to be determined (but is certainly open to debate) though there’s no denying when he picks up the ball with space to move he can be devastating.
He hasn’t hit the heights some have expected and we’re not dodging that here, but surely some adjustment time is allowed? There was some struggle after returning from injury in the Christmas period, but he was excellent against Burnley and very good against Swansea registering an assist in both games.
Players traditionally struggle or require an adjustment period when moving leagues. It’s true that some never adjust and fail to make the grade, particularly in the physical nature of the Premier League.
But Ángel Di María is not just some player. He’s a world-class talent simply too good to just go quietly into the night. Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Özil and Eden Hazard all initially struggled with their slim frames upon their initial encounters into the English game. Upon becoming leaner and stronger, they’ve all left their mark in England.
Di María is part of this class of player who can do that. With such short memories nowadays, some remember only what happened last week in the football.
Despite his inconsistency, Di María is second in the league with eight assists. He’s scored four goals, equalling last season’s total in Madrid.
His WhoScored rating is higher than players receiving plaudits this season such as Christian Eriksen or Philippe Coutinho. It’s also higher than Gylfi Sigurðsson, Wilfried Bony and Samir Nasri’s, players considered to be having fine seasons.
So despite all the criticism of the Argentine, he’s still managed to concoct many moments of brilliance. So chill out everyone. Please be patient, it’s only been six months.
Without European football to tide us over and keep us distracted the time between games can be very long for fans, particularly when the team hasn’t played well the last time out.
But Louis van Gaal needs your support and the players need your support. Even superstars like Ángel Di María need the backing of their fans. With the club’s toughest and most important stretch of the season coming up, get behind your players and your club. Your faith might just pay off.