Adnan Januzaj scores free-kick against Salzburg
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Adnan Januzaj was involved in a practical joke early into his Manchester United career that backfired, according to reports. The Belgium international is poised to feature for Real Sociedad in tonight’s Europa League clash. And tales from his time at Old Trafford have started to emerge as he prepares to face off against his old side.
Januzaj was tipped for greatness during his time at United.
The Red Devils thought they’d struck gold with the youngster, who was the shining light of David Moyes’ time in charge.
Januzaj was impressive in the 2013/2014 season but, following the appointment of Louis van Gaal, toiled on the pitch.
A loan spell at Borussia Dortmund didn’t work out and Van Gaal’s successor, Jose Mourinho, eventually cut him loose in 2017.
Now, Januzaj will go up against United for the first time since his departure nearly four years ago.
And The Athletic have detailed how a practical joke went wrong early into his time in the Old Trafford first team setup.
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It’s claimed that, in 2013 while the players were on tour in Hong Kong, there was a whiteboard showing the squad’s schedule for the day.
It was the first summer since Ferguson’s retirement and, each day, a member of staff would update the board with training times and other details.
This was Moyes and his staff’s way of ensuring everybody knew what was happening.
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Except, then somebody intervened. The correct arrangements were rubbed off, with bogus times put on instead.
United staff members pointed the finger at Alexander Buttner, the reserve left-back who had arrived in the summer transfer window of 2012.
It’s claimed that Red Devils officials didn’t like Buttner, believing he had a side to him that left much to be desired.
And these same United staff members thought Januzaj had aided him, despite the Belgian being tipped to be their talisman of the team.
United were worried about this. Januzaj, influenced by a player six years his previously, had to focus on his football. Anything else would merely be a hindrance.
They had a word and, initially, it seemed as though it’d done the ticket.
Januzaj sparkled on the pitch but, in the end, things didn’t work out. Van Gaal, then Mourinho, never indulged him in the same way as Moyes.
And so now, tonight, he’ll be out to send a message to his former club.
Januzaj has done well to rebuild his career at Sociedad while also becoming a semi-regular for Belgium, helping them finish third at the World Cup in 2018.
But, speaking to the Daily Mail ahead of the match, he doesn’t feel he has a point to prove despite the way his time at Old Trafford played out.
“No, I don’t have to prove anything to anyone,” he said.
“I know my qualities, I know who I am. I don’t have to show United or anybody that I’m a good player. I just have to believe in myself.
“Regrets? I could say maybe a small regret. Because I know I had the quality to show the people how good I was. That’s my regret.”
Januzaj also insisted he wasn’t shown enough ‘love’ at the club, adding: “When I played my first season at United and came through the academy, people were showing me love. The coaches were letting me enjoy my football.
“Then obviously when a coach (Van Gaal) comes who doesn’t show you love, it gets more difficult to prove yourself and be happy.
“When Sir Alex Ferguson was talking to us, he gave us a bit of hope. ‘Work hard, your time will come.’
“Even if you had a bad pass, Van Gaal would shout at you. For young players that isn’t good, you have to teach them. A coach is like a teacher, that’s what I missed the most.
“It wasn’t only to me but also to other young players. To Memphis (Depay) also, he’s a great player and you can see he’s making a difference with Lyon in France.
“As young players we just had to sit there and wait for our opportunity to play for 10 or 15 minutes. Okay, we can show a glimpse of our quality but you cannot show how good you are.”
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