Manchester United first-team coach Phil Neville is delighted with Adnan Januzaj’s progress this season, but warns the teenager must be managed carefully if fans are to continue seeing the best of him.
Januzaj’s promise became apparent to a wider audience on the Reds’ pre-season tour last summer and he was handed his senior debut by David Moyes in United’s Community Shield win over Wigan Athletic.
Since then, his upward trajectory has continued, with the Belgian-born youngster playing a key role in United’s season and signing a five-year contract that will keep him at the club until June 2018.
However, Neville dismisses suggestions Januzaj has exceeded expectations, insisting the club’s coaching staff were well aware of his star potential.
“Everyone knew we had a special talent on our hands,” Neville told ManUtd.com. “But the real test comes when you play at Old Trafford.
“So that was the question back in pre-season: has he got the temperament to play for Manchester United at Old Trafford? Well, I think he's answered that.”
Januzaj’s performances have drawn praise from all quarters, although Neville says it’s important that the demands on such young shoulders aren't set too high too soon.
“You have to have the courage, the belief, the confidence, the determination to play for Manchester United... those characteristics are key to a player's success here and Adnan is no different.
“It's still early doors for him, though, and I think we've treated him right. We've played him in games and we've also rested him in others and given him a bit of a breather.
“We have to make sure that in two or three years he's still improving and reaching the levels we hope he can reach. That's our job as coaches.”
And while it’s Adnan’s star that’s currently on the rise, Neville is confident others will soon follow the same journey from youth level to senior football.