Any manager can get results out of a team if they have 11 superb players playing in their favoured role, but it’s never as simple as that.
The best ones find a way to develop a system that gets the best out of their players, while they may also spot a potential positional change that allows them to flourish.
Antonio Valencia went from being a pacey winger who started to regress when opposing teams figured out how to stop him into a solid defender who became captain and he was one of the most dependable players on the team sheet, so could the same happen with Dan James?
The initial reaction has to be sceptical because he’s not as physically strong as Valencia was but he does have blistering pace and incredible work rate, so there could be something to work with there against lesser teams.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka won’t be replaced as the regular starter but he does lack end product when he attacks, so James could deserve a chance in that role if Solskjaer is brave enough.
It would clearly be a risky experiment, but it looks like a few of the fans would like to see it happen:
Hear me out. Dan James as RWB
— Lewis???????? (@LewisUtd_) February 18, 2021
I’ve figured it out boiiis, dan james is a RWB think about hes been good defensively all game he can whip in a solid cross and it lets wan bissaka play cb hes also super fast hes the man u traore
— Psychic_Goat (@goat_psychic) February 18, 2021
Dan James would be a world-class wingback
— . (@swansealex) February 18, 2021
Man United should just use Dan James in the Full back/wing back position…
— ????????????? ? (@911xclusive) February 18, 2021
— Me (@marty_0007) February 18, 2021
The other thing that goes in James’ favour is his desire to influence the game and press an opponent, while physicality isn’t always vital in a wing back and there are numerous examples like Tariq Lamptey, Jordi Alba and Alphonso Davies who prove that desire can overcome physical deficiencies.
It’s also possible that James should keep his place on the right wing after an impressive performance tonight, but it would certainly be interesting to see how he got on if he was given a chance in defence.