Daniel James out to make more FA Cup memories
Manchester United winger Daniel James is looking forward to being involved in the Emirates FA Cup once more, as the Reds prepare to take on Wolves in the third round on Saturday.
The Wales international made his professional debut for Swansea City in the competition in February 2018, coming off the bench to score – just as he did on his first appearance for United.
Twelve months later, his sensational solo strike against Brentford launched him into the public consciousness, and he’s keen to make his mark in the Cup for his new side.
“I’m really looking forward to the competition again,” the 22-year-old told us.
“We’ve got Wolves away, which will be tough. It’s Premier League opposition and they’ve done well and we’ve already been there once this season.
“We want to go far in the competition but this game will be tough.”
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side are enjoying another excellent Premier League campaign, having defeated Manchester City home and away in 2019/20.
Wolves ended our FA Cup involvement in the quarter-finals last season, but James is aiming to avenge that loss at Molineux, after a 1-1 draw in August, in which we led for large parts before being pegged back by a Ruben Neves wonder goal in the second half.
“They’ve got a solid backline and they play their five at the back and counter very well,” James added.
“We’ve had some tricky results against them recently but, when we went there earlier in the season, I think we did really well and we were disappointed not to come away with the three points.
“We’ve looked back over that game and we’ll be ready.”
The FA Cup clearly holds a special place in James’s heart due to the role it has played in his rise to prominence. First, there was that debut goal as a substitute in an 8-1 fourth round replay demolition of Notts County two seasons ago.
“I remember it being 7-1 when I came on and the manager at the time just told me to play a bit of a free role,” James recalls.
“The ball came in from the right and Tammy Abraham set me up for that goal which I’ll always thank him for! He chested it down to me and it was a special feeling when the ball hit the back of the net because that was my senior debut.
“It’s great when you’re younger to be involved in a competition like the FA Cup. You want to play in as many competitions as you can.
“That game was extra special, I had all my family there and I didn’t expect to come on but the goals kept flying in so I hoped I’d get my chance. To then come on and score was amazing.
“If you watch it back and see my celebration you can see how excited I was afterwards!”
Swansea’s run to the quarter-finals, a year later, owed much to James’s electrifying presence on the wing, which was perfectly encapsulated in his box-to-box run and finish against the Bees in the fifth round.
The Hull-born speedster picked the ball up a full 80 yards from the Brentford goal, but zoomed past Romaine Sawyers, Moses Odubajo and Kamohelo Mokotjo before calmly finishing beyond Luke Daniels.
“When anyone asks me about that goal, I think it’s just a bit of a blur! [Smiles] The ball came out to me and it’s not often you don’t see any defenders on the halfway line and my first instinct was just to run forward.
“I was at the goal before I knew it and I remember thinking: I can’t run the length of the pitch and not score!
“When the ball went in, it was a great feeling and it’s something I’ll always remember.”
James may recall his FA Cup memories with fondness, but it’s clear that his mind is firmly set on claiming silverware with United.
“I want to win trophies. We want to win the League Cup, get as far as we can in the FA Cup and, with the Premier League, we just need to keep winning games,
“ he added.
“We want to get into that top four and I think we’re very capable of doing that.”
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