James is hitting form at a good time
It was good to see Daniel James smiling again on Tuesday night and with some justification, as the Manchester United speedster is undeniably in good form.
The Wales international enjoyed a superb spell with his country recently, scoring a thunderbolt in the win over Finland and also registering an assist for Kieffer Moore's header, following some classic wing-play.Introduced in the second half of the 4-1 victory over Istanbul Basaksehir, the 23-year-old looked fit and firing, providing a threat throughout his 30-odd minutes on the pitch and, of course, finishing Mason Greenwood's unselfish pass with a right-footed shot past Mert Gunok for our fourth goal of the night.
However, before the goal, there was further evidence that James is back to his best - a blistering piece of acceleration that took him deep into the Basaksehir box and almost carved out a chance for Greenwood in the middle.
It was the sort of bold attacking play in the club's best traditions and would have had the fans off their seats had any been permitted inside Old Trafford. When dribbling at full speed, the wide man is very difficult to stop.
Poor Rafael was the man trying to make up the ground on James when he bagged his goal and the former Red certainly has our sympathy for the impossible task, 92 minutes into a Champions League tie on the big pitch.
Our current no.21 kept his cool to claim his first goal of the season for United and a first since his strike against LASK in March. However, it is worth noting that, since coming on against Crystal Palace in the Premier League opener, he has now gone 10 games unbeaten for club and country.
So his confidence must be high in advance of Sunday's trip to Southampton and St Mary's is a ground that holds happy memories for the winger. James struck an absolute beauty there in August 2019, during a 1-1 draw with the Saints, cutting inside onto his right boot and curling home a cracker.
That effort was his third goal in four games following his move from Swansea City and showed his quality. However, his game is certainly not all about putting the ball into the back of the net and you wonder if Edinson Cavani will fancy getting on the end of some teasing crosses in the coming weeks.
We do know that everybody will be required during this spell and an in-form James will be a fabulous option for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, either from the outset or coming off the bench to test tired defenders. He looks certain to have a big part to play - at home and abroad.