James: I'm back to myself again
Manchester United winger Daniel James has credited his work on the training pitch as the reason behind his strong week for the club.
The Welshman retained his place in the starting XI against Newcastle United after scoring against Real Sociedad in Turin in midweek and was on the scoresheet again as he netted the Reds’ second in our 3-1 win over the Magpies.
Speaking to MUTV and BT Sport at full-time, he said that grafting behind the scenes is what enabled him to deliver when called upon. James said: “I’ve just been working as hard as I can and doing everything I can when I do play and, yeah, it was nice to get minutes Thursday and again today. So I’ve got to just keep working on that.
“When you’re not playing as much, it’s not a time to relax and just think 'I’m not going to play'. It’s a time to learn, reflect on things to say why you’re not playing and just keep working hard in training and the gaffer told me ‘You’re going to get your chance soon’ and I just stayed ready for that.
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He added: “I think there was a moment last season that maybe I wasn’t performing as well as I wanted to. I think this season I just wanted to reflect on that as much as I can, doing everything I can to reflect on my games, and yeah I’ve just been working on the training ground as hard as I can.
“I think I kind of lost my way a bit. I wasn’t playing the same as I did at the start of last season, so that’s what I had to look at, analysis, stuff like that. I’ve got the right people around me to talk me through that and, as I said, I've been working with coaches on the training ground to try and get me back to myself and I’d like to think that I’ve got there.”
Of his goal – which came when Bruno Fernandes flicked on a Nemanja Matic pass – James said: “I had one [in the] first half where the touch got away from me a bit and I knew I was going to get that chance again, because we kept working the sides and that’s where the space was, and obviously Nemanja played that ball... I think Bruno will want the assist from that and I’ll give him it! When I just touched it, it was all about just getting it on target and thankfully it went in.”
Following back-to-back draws in the league, James admitted the pressure had been on to get the three points and to keep pace with those around us.
“I think after Thursday we just wanted to capitalise on that, and I thought we did well today,” he said.
“We had a little bump after it went one-all, but we’ve come out second half and regrouped really and used the spaces down the side and that’s where we got the goals.
“At 2-1 it was still a risky game and the game got a little bit up and down and Marcus obviously got that pen and Bruno kind of secured that win for us. From then on we just had to keep the ball and play into our hands.”