Daniel James believes he was 'too risk averse at Manchester United'

‘Safe is dangerous in the position I play’: Leeds new boy Daniel James believes he was ‘too risk averse at Manchester United’, claiming his loss of energy and directness saw him frozen out of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side

  • Daniel James has completed a move from Manchester United to Leeds United
  • James made a promising start at United two years ago but progress then stalled
  • The 24-year-old said he was too risk averse towards the end of his first season
  • James hopes the move to Marcelo Bielsa’s side will give him a new lease of life
  • However, he understands it is unlikely that he will walk straight into the squad  

Daniel James says the reason why he failed to cement a place in the Manchester United starting XI was because he became too risk averse after his first season at the club.

James made a phenomenal start to life at United, scoring three goals in his opening four league games. He also demonstrated an exciting change of pace and a desire to wreak havoc on his top-flight opponents. 

However, the Welshman began to ‘play it safe’ towards the end of his maiden campaign and lost his place in the squad as a result. 

Daniel James says he became too risk averse after his first season at Manchester United

Therefore, the 24-year-old made the decision to sign for Leeds United on five-year deal for an undisclosed fee. 

James has since reflected on his downfall at Manchester United – having gone from scoring three goals in four games to three goals in 32 appearances during his opening season at the club. 

He told The Telegraph: ‘I think everyone goes through part of their career where you don’t realise something is happening until you look back and have good people around you to analyse that. 

The 24-year-old joined the club for £15million in 2019 and made a flying start to life at United

He scored three goals in his first four league games, with fans gushing over his talent


Games: 74

Goals: 9

Assists: 9

Minutes played: 4,654

‘I started thinking, ‘What does he do that I can do?’ rather than thinking just about my game and being myself. It got to the point where I was being a bit safe in games. 

‘I got bought for my direct play, running in behind, running with the ball, trying things and not being afraid to lose the ball but slowly I started to come away from that and play a little safe.

‘When I stepped back it was remembering to be direct, to be that person. Safe is dangerous in the position I play. You’re not there to do that – you’re there to score goals and make assists and run yourself into the ground on and off the ball.’ 

James – who was close to joining Leeds during the 2018-2019 Championship season – knew the impending arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo would further limit his pitch time at Manchester United this season.    

However, the Welshman endured a barren run of form and his game time was affected

As a result, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer afforded James little game time during 2019-20 at United

Therefore, the move to Leeds should bode well for James as he has proved that he is better suited to hard-running, fast-paced teams, having performed well for Wales at the Euros this summer. 

James also believes that Marcelo Bielsa has what it take to help him rediscover his confidence and morph back into the player that convinced United to sign him from Swansea two years ago. 

Speaking about about his move to Leeds, James said: ‘He [Bielsa] obviously thinks I can fit in that system.

Therefore he signed for Leeds United on five-year contract for an undisclosed fee this summer 

James believes that Marcelo Bielsa has what it take to help his rediscover his confidence 

‘Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m going to walk into that team. Hopefully I can adapt quickly to the system but I think it’s going to take me a little while. It’s very tactical but he’s got a way of playing that I feel suits me.’

James also admitted to speaking with Leeds forward Tyler Roberts while away on international duty with Wales. He believes it is important to get an ‘insight’ into how the squad plays before he arrives. 

‘I’ve spoken to Tyler to get a bit of insight and I’m trying to do as much research while I’m away to get an insight into how players in my positions play and what actions they make.’

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