James hoping to seize FA Cup opportunity amid Man Utd competition

By Sports Desk January 09, 2021

Daniel James knows the pressure is on to seize any first-team opportunities he gets at Manchester United ahead of the FA Cup tie with Watford.

United host their Championship opponents in the third round on Saturday and James believes the competition retains a special place in the football calendar.

The Wales winger, who scored a famous FA Cup goal while he was at Swansea City against Brentford, is hoping to be involved at Old Trafford.

James impressed against Leeds United last month and was also in the team against Leicester City, but they were two of only five Premier League starts he has been handed this season.

Having featured in 33 Premier League games last season, he knows the competition for places at United is tougher this time around, with the club sitting level on points alongside champions Liverpool at the top of the table.

"I have been working hard in training every day and the manager knows I am ready when called upon," James said to United's website.

"I will just keep working hard in training and doing what I do.

"Being at this club, there is always going to be lots of competition and the forwards have been doing so well. 

"So it is about when I do get my opportunity, I have got to take mine. That is the way I have been looking at it. 

"I have not been playing as much so I have been able to do a lot more stuff in training, extra stuff, and I have to keep doing that and look at things I can improve and also work on the things I am good at.

"It [the FA Cup] means everything. Growing up, there have been some unbelievable games over the years.

"I was at Swansea when I watched Jesse Lingard's extra-time goal [for United in the final against Crystal Palace]. It is a special competition."

Asked about his memorable goal, the winger added: "It is a great memory and a special moment.

"There are not many times when the whole pitch is open. I just had to keep that composure and when it went in the back of the net, I knew it was a special goal."

Related items

  • Klopp staying patient as Van Dijk and Gomez impress in pre-season training Klopp staying patient as Van Dijk and Gomez impress in pre-season training

    Jurgen Klopp revealed Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez have looked "really good" in pre-season training with Liverpool, though made clear the need for patience over the returning duo.

    Van Dijk and fellow centre-back Gomez were long-term absentees during the Reds' unsuccessful title defence in the 2020-21 campaign, making a combined total of just 12 Premier League appearances.

    Both are closing in on a comeback but Klopp insisted after the 1-0 friendly win over Mainz on Friday that neither are likely to feature in the next fixture, which sees Liverpool take on Hertha Berlin.

    Asked by the club's official website if the defenders could play next Thursday, he replied: "Yeah, it would still be a surprise, unfortunately. But they look really good.

    "Look, I think, they do everything, they play football, we keep them in training, we do the things we can do, they don't do too much and stuff like this.

    "We just have to be patient – we prepare for a full season, not for a pre-season game. I will not risk it for a game here, so we have to see.

    "We have a lot of games still coming, pre-season games, but I don't see them being involved for the next one."

    Liverpool recorded a first win during pre-season action thanks to a late own goal against Mainz, Luca Kilian turning Owen Beck's cross into the net in the 86th minute.

    Klopp had included a host of first-team regulars in his starting XI, which saw Harvey Elliott utilised in a midfield role, before a much younger line-up were introduced after half-time.

    A number of the squad remain absent following their exertions at Euro 2020 and the Copa America, though Scotland captain Andy Robertson has joined up with his team-mates in Austria.

    "I am happy about a lot of situations I saw," the Liverpool boss said of the game against Mainz.

    "I saw in the first half some really good football where we came through, we passed, we passed the ball quite quickly, quick enough against a good, organised side, a deep-defending side and this kind of stuff. It was far away from being perfect, but it is absolutely okay.

    "Second half I saw the boys, the kids, fought for a result and they got it. They forced it and I am happy about that."

  • Sancho to Man Utd: Old Trafford the platform to release untapped talent – Solskjaer Sancho to Man Utd: Old Trafford the platform to release untapped talent – Solskjaer

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Jadon Sancho has made the perfect step at the right time in his career, as he believes Manchester United's latest addition can showcase 'untapped talent' at Old Trafford.

    United's long pursuit of Sancho has resulted in a deal that Stats Perform understands is worth £72.9million (€85m), making him the fourth most expensive signing in the club's history, behind Paul Pogba, Harry Maguire and Romelu Lukaku.

    The 21-year-old, who left United's rivals Manchester City to join Borussia Dortmund in 2017, has signed until 2026 with an option for a further year.

    Sancho scored 50 goals and provided 57 assists in 137 appearances across all competitions for BVB, with only Erling Haaland and Marco Reus having scored more since the winger made his debut.

    In 104 Bundesliga appearances, Sancho netted 38 times, averaging a goal every 197 minutes, bettering the totals of the wide players he has joined at United in Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood and Daniel James.

    Having secured a long-term target – Sancho was the subject of much speculation in 2020 – Solskjaer hailed the England international as the ideal player to bring into United's squad.

    "Jadon epitomises the type of player I want to bring to the club, he is a forward player in the best traditions of Manchester United," Solskjaer told the club's official website.

    "He will form an integral part of my squad for years to come and we look forward to seeing him blossom. His goals and assists records speak for themselves and he will also bring tremendous pace, flair and creativity to the team. 

    "Old Trafford will give him the platform he needs to release his untapped talent and perform at the highest level. For a player of his age, Jadon has already achieved a great deal and showed the courage to go and prove himself abroad. We all look forward to welcoming Jadon to the squad as we prepare for the new campaign."

    For his part, Sancho – who came through Watford's academy before moving to City at the age of 14 – explained it was always his plan to return to the Premier League.

    He said: "I'll always be grateful to Dortmund for giving me the opportunity to play first team football, although I always knew that I would return to England one day.

    "The chance to join Manchester United is a dream come true and I just cannot wait to perform in the Premier League. This is a young and exciting squad and I know, together, we can develop into something special to bring the success that the fans deserve. I am looking forward to working with the manager and his coaching team to further develop my game."

    Sancho also thanked Dortmund directly, telling the Bundesliga club's official website: "I can't thank the people in charge at Borussia Dortmund enough for the chance they gave me as a very young player. 

    "At BVB I was able to mature into the player I am today. The DFB-Pokal win last season was a great end to my time at BVB. But I will always remember the support and love of the incredible fans as something special."

  • Sancho to Man Utd deal done as Solskjaer lands England winger Sancho to Man Utd deal done as Solskjaer lands England winger

    Jadon Sancho has finally joined Manchester United after they sealed a deal to bring in the England winger from Borussia Dortmund.

    The long pursuit of Sancho has resulted in a deal that Stats Perform understands will see United pay £72.9million (€85m) for Sancho, with no add-ons included within the deal.

    It makes the 21-year-old the fourth most expensive signing in United's history, behind Paul Pogba, Harry Maguire and Romelu Lukaku.

    He has signed until 2026, with United having the option to extend that agreement for another year.

    United were keen on Sancho last year but could not drive through a deal at the time, with Dortmund reluctant to sell one of their chief assets.

    However, they have now been persuaded to part company with a player who scored twice in their DFB-Pokal final win over RB Leipzig last season.

    Sancho established a strong understanding with the much-coveted Erling Haaland while at Dortmund and now joins a United side who have ground to make up on neighbours Manchester City.

    He will look to build a similar rapport with his Manchester United team-mates, having experienced the agony of losing the Euro 2020 final on penalties alongside Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford.

    Both Sancho and Rashford missed from 12 yards in the shoot-out as Italy prevailed after a 1-1 draw following extra time to deny England a first major title since the 1966 World Cup.

    Having joined Dortmund in 2017, Sancho scored 50 goals and provided 57 assists in 137 appearances across all competitions for BVB.

    It was City that Sancho left to join Dortmund in August 2017. He had come through the youth ranks with Watford initially before moving as a 14-year-old to the Etihad Stadium.

    The balance of power in Manchester, and indeed in English football, remains weighted in City's favour after they won the Premier League title by 12 points from second-placed United last season.

    United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should have Sancho among his attacking options for his team's opening Premier League game against Leeds United at Old Trafford on August 14.

    Sancho is the only player from Europe's top five leagues to have scored 10 goals or more and had at least 15 assists across all competitions in each of the past three seasons while playing at that high level.

    United's penalty shoot-out defeat to Villarreal in the Europa League final in May means they remain without a major honour during Solskjaer's reign, which began when he was initially placed in caretaker control in December 2018 after Jose Mourinho was sacked.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.