Exclusive: James reveals some valuable advice
Manchester United's Daniel James has revealed some of the useful pieces of advice he has been given as he continues to learn his trade as a winger.
The 21-year-old earned a dream move to Old Trafford from Championship side Swansea City over the summer and has looked far from daunted since making the step up to the top flight, earning the Player-of-the Month award in August and being nominated for September's prize too.
Earning plenty of praise for his fearless attacking instinct, and boundless energy, the wide man may still be adapting to life at United but he has taken some tips on board and is determined to continue with his rapid progression.
When we asked the Wales international if it was always his intention to retain his natural game and keep running at opponents, after joining United, he replied:
“I think you have to. Most people told me when I signed here: 'Just be yourself, otherwise there's no point. You're here for a reason'. So I wouldn't change the way I played. I think me being the player who, every time I get the ball, I'm driving; that's my game and is something I won't stop.
”When you are going into the game, and that one-v-one battle [with the full-back], you've got to believe you're going to win it. You could lose a ball nine times out of 10 but it's important to get the ball again and be confident to be able to go on because, that one opportunity where you do get past them, you could score a goal or make an assist. So I think, over time, I've learned.
“Sometimes, I've been a bit down, do you know what I mean, when they tackle me four out of five times. But I've been told by a lot of people to just keep going, so that is what I will always do, no matter what happens in the game.”
The manager, coaching staff, and fans are all helping fuel the belief in the youngster, who has made such a remarkable introduction to Premier League football. The supporters have adored wingers over the years and clearly enjoy seeing players taking their marker on and driving forward.
“I think, after the great wingers [we've had], you can hear them as soon as you start running with the ball,” he added.
“They get right behind you and it's something you love to hear as a winger. You want to get people off their seats.”
James admits his stamina is something he has had to develop since his early days trying to break into the Swansea team, but he will never be intimidated by opposing full-backs, no matter what the situation.
“You know you're going to get hard knocks if you go past players,” he admitted.
“If you let that get to you, they've won their battle really. If I don't want to get on the ball again, that's them winning. Even if I'm tired in a game, I feel like probably they are more tired than me. So it's important to keep getting at them. Obviously, the manager always encourages me to do that as well.
”I think I've built that [stamina] over the last few years by playing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday. That's something, when I was coming through at 17 and 18, that I struggled with really, playing every week and sometimes playing three times a week.
“That tolerance is something I've built up and it's so important. I mean you've got to get make yourself right, eat right and do the right things to be ready for the next game.”
The summer recruit has shown an ability to attack down both flanks, and looks particularly dangerous cutting onto his right foot from the left, but he is mindful that defences will become aware of this tactic.
As he is happy to operate in any number of forward positions, James is simply determined to keep opposing defenders on their toes.
“I played more on the left at Swansea but up front and on the right too,” he explained.
“It's important to be versatile in all three positions because you never know when you need to be called upon. We might have an injured no.9 and I might need to go to play up there, so I need to be ready to play in all three roles.
”I do enjoy coming inside from the left. I can go down the line and cross with my left, or go inside but, for now, I think it's just about sometimes scoring a few by coming inside means people are going to be wary of that. So it's about mixing my game up.
Such an awareness of the need to vary his wing play bodes well for the youngster, who appears to be very adept at taking information and advice on board. He will be looking to upset the Newcastle United defence on Sunday and show why he has become an instant hit with the United faithful.Reading this in our app? If not, you might miss some exclusive features not found on ManUtd.com. Download the Official App here.