Januzaj blames ‘long ball’ Premier League for Man Utd struggles

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Adnan Januzaj Manchester United
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The Belgium international winger is enjoying his football again at Real Sociedad having previously endured a testing time at Old Trafford

Adnan Januzaj has suggested that a penchant for “long ball” in the Premier League and a lack of faith from Louis van Gaal are to blame for the struggles he endured at Manchester United.

The Belgium international appeared destined for a bright future in England when bursting out of the Old Trafford academy system under David Moyes.

His early showings were, however, to be as good as things got for the now 24-year-old winger.

Januzaj quickly fell out of favour at United and took in forgettable loan spells at Borussia Dortmund and Sunderland before securing a permanent switch to Real Sociedad in 2017.

He has rebuilt his reputation in Spain, telling The Telegraph of his current standing and how he got to this point: “It’s been a good move.

“I had other options but I really wanted to come and play in Spain. I also looked at how the team was … they love football and they love to play the beautiful game – that’s the most important thing in football and why you play.​

“La Liga suits my style. It is much more technical, players are much more skilful. The positioning of the players is really clever.

“In England, it’s a bit more physical, a bit long ball, more direct. In Spain, most of the teams try and play from the back. It’s great to have players around you who are comfortable on the ball, too, because it helps you. It makes attacking easier, it makes the difference.”​

Adnan Januzaj Louis van Gaal Manchester United

Januzaj believes his progress at United was stunted by the arrival of Van Gaal, with the Dutch coach placing little trust in his enigmatic talents.

“I grew up there [United], I was really happy until one year I had a bit of a struggle with the manager and that slowed me down,” he said.

“I always knew I had all the qualities to turn things around. The problem was, I was not playing and, then, every time I came in, it was difficult to change the game or make something happen, so, obviously, then imagine playing for a year like this? It makes it more difficult for you.”​

Januzaj’s cause was made all the more difficult as a creative midfielder.

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He added: “Exactly, because you are the one player who can make the difference, score goals and you can imagine if he [the manager] does not give you the confidence to take your opponent on, it gets even more difficult for you because you don’t know what to do: to attack or to play simple.

“I came in for a lot of criticism but, for me, it’s not a problem because I never look back on it. I just keep doing my stuff and now I’m in another league, I’m happy, I played in my second World Cup, I scored against England, too, so I showed to people that against an English team, who all play in the Premier League, I can still make the difference. It was a good moment.”​

Januzaj netted against England during a group stage encounter at the 2018 World Cup, with the Red Devils then going on to edge out the Three Lions again in a third-place play-off.