JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Record signing Angel di Maria ready to return Manchester United's swagger

Date

Football columnist, The London Telegraph

View more articles from Henry Winter

Bringing fresh hope: Angel di Maria.

Bringing fresh hope: Angel di Maria. Photo: AFP

Acquiring the man of the match from the most recent Champions League final can hardly be construed a panic purchase. No desperation can be found in wanting, hunting and successfully landing a versatile international of the pace, invention and energy of Angel di Maria.

Just because Manchester United also need strengthening elsewhere, notably in the heart of midfield and defence, does not mean the Angel of the North-west is a luxury signing. United have bought a formidable talent. Many Real Madrid supporters mourn his departure.

Events of the evening of May 24 when Real defeated Atletico Madrid in Lisbon highlighted how Di Maria can deliver on the grand stages, how he possesses the resilience to keep running at opponents who chopped him down, pulled him back and hacked him down again. Atletico ganged up on Di Maria, realising that he was the main threat with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale initially subdued. Di Maria was poleaxed by Juanfran, caught late by Raul Garcia, was hounded by Thiago and had his shirt tugged by Miranda to stop him escaping.

He did not stop attacking, carrying on playing his one-twos with first Fabio Coentrao and then Marcelo, raiding down the left, putting in 23 crosses during two hours of football. British eyes focused on Bale of Wales for what proved the winning goal but it was Di Maria's run after 110 minutes, that "zig-zag" celebrated by Xabi Alonso, that made it. Cutting in from the wing, Di Maria left three Atletico players trailing. Even though Thibaut Courtois saved, the ball looped up for Bale. All the British headlines were about Bale's part in the Decima but his goal celebration said it all, embracing Di Maria and thanking him.

So it is a critique deserving of derision to suggest Di Maria might find English football too bruising or stamina-sapping; he started out with Rosario Central in the Argentine league, hardly the most genteel of environments. It is a claim worthy of instant mockery that Di Maria might find the Premier League too quick; United are crying out for more pace and Di Maria provides that. Nobody would dare suggest that Di Maria is not team-minded; 22 assists for Real last season confirm his selflessness.

Panic purchase? United's manager, Louis van Gaal, has never seemed the type to rush blindly into situations; he is a deep-thinking citizen of a cerebral footballing nation with a wealth of experience who may be searching for United's Arjen Robben, a fast-moving destroyer of defences. The word around Van Gaal was that he wanted "four or five high-class players" and Di Maria certainly fits that bill.

The angular Argentine shaped the result of a Champions League final, settled an Olympic final and scored to take his country into a World Cup quarter-final. His absence from the Maracana climax with a thigh strain was lamented by all his compatriots invading Rio de Janeiro. Di Maria still made the 10-man Golden Ball short-list for player of the World Cup. For someone considered over-priced, Di Maria has quite a rich resume.

He is also a dedicated professional, still driven by the memory of difficult early days, and the knowledge of his father working in a coal-yard after injury blighted his dream of a career with River Plate. He may even have a point to prove to Real. Panic purchase? Arguably, it is Di Maria taking the risk, moving to a club with no Champions League football.

The general consensus is that United paid too much with a fee of £59.7 million. Only time will tell; if Di Maria settles quickly, and helps lift United into the Champions League positions, he will justified the outlay in one season, let alone via the lucrative merchandising opportunities that will be exploited by United in their usual brisk fashion. United's sponsors will love this signing.

Leaving aside the financial benefits, the recruiting of such a well-known talent should also have an uplifting psychological impact.

All those United fans, tuning in to watch Di Maria illuminate Lisbon, will be thrilled he will now be entertaining them. United have lost their fear factor since Sir Alex Ferguson left; Di Maria could help them on the journey to regaining that swagger. His presence may persuade others to sign. The dressing room will be buzzing with the breaking news.

The real question about Di Maria should not be why, but where. He can fill a range of tactical roles. He can play wing-back but it seems a waste of his final-third prowess. Di Maria's arrival may see United go back to their roots, unleashing wingers again, and Hallelujah to that. Van Gaal has indicated that his use of 3-5-2 was partly because he questioned the quality of wingers at United with also the subtext that he was waiting for Kevin Strootman to become available, giving United the central powerhouse they so urgently require. The history of the Premier League is traditionally about back-fours, partly because wing-backs can get over-run.

Di Maria offers assorted options, scoring goals through the middle at Benfica as well as when arrowing down the inside-left channel. Yet the lesson of Lisbon in May is that Di Maria shines more on the left.

Comparisons are invidious, and Ryan Giggs was unique, but some of Di Maria's left-sided surges, tricking his way with touch and acceleration around full-backs, echo Giggs.

Wherever Van Gaal plays him, it could mean problems for Juan Mata. If Van Gaal reverted to a 4-3-3/4-2-1-3, with Wayne Rooney playing off Robin van Persie and Di Maria and Adnan Januzaj wide, United would have an attack of goals, creativity and pace.

We should celebrate Di Maria's signing. He adds some welcome additional class to the Premier League, reversing the talent drain to La Liga. It should be a measure of pride that the player who lit up the Champions League is now here but one gutsy, virtuoso display does not make a player a guaranteed success in his next move and certain concerns must be acknowledged.

Di Maria needs to learn English quickly and find the right house for him, his wife, and young daughter ASAP. Manchester is far from Madrid in many ways, and degrees, but there will be familiar faces at United and City to mix with off the field. On it, Di Maria heavily favours his left foot, so much so that he regularly engages in the "Rabona" with left foot wrapped around right to deliver the ball. Premier League defenders will show him on to his right.

Warning: Atletico tried that and Di Maria still took them apart.

The Telegraph, London

Comments

Be the first to comment.

Make a comment

You are logged in as [Logout]

All information entered below may be published.

Error: Please enter your screen name.

Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

Error: Please enter your comment.

Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

Post to

You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

Thank you

Your comment has been submitted for approval.

Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

Related Coverage

Hyundai A - 2014-15 - All Rounds

Round 1
Fri, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
VIC 4vs WSW 1 Stats
Sat, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1vs NEW 0 Stats
SYD 1vs MCY 1 Stats
Sun, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1vs PER 2 Stats
BRI 1vs ADE 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 17 OctTimes shown AEDT
ADE 1vs VIC 1 Stats
Sat, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1vs WEL 2 Stats
SYD 3vs WSW 2 Stats
Sun, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1vs NEW 1 Stats
PER 3vs BRI 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 24 OctTimes shown AEDT
BRI 0vs SYD 2 Stats
Sat, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
VIC 5vs MCY 2 Stats
Sun, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WEL 4vs NEW 1 Stats
ADE 2vs PER 0 Stats
Wed, 19 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSW 0vs CCM 0 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1vs ADE 2 Stats
Sat, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
PER 2vs NEW 1 Stats
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
SYD 2vs CCM 0 Stats
Mon, 03 NovTimes shown AEDT
VIC 2vs WEL 0 Stats
Wed, 03 DecTimes shown AEDT
WSW 0vs BRI 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 07 NovTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1vs WSW 0 Stats
ADE 0vs SYD 0 Stats
Sat, 08 NovTimes shown AEDT
NEW 2vs VIC 2 Stats
BRI 1vs MCY 3 Stats
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
CCM 0vs PER 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 14 NovTimes shown AEDT
NEW 0vs BRI 4 Stats
Sat, 15 NovTimes shown AEDT
ADE 2vs WEL 1 Stats
SYD 0vs VIC 0 Stats
PER 2vs WSW 1 Stats
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
MCY 2vs CCM 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 21 NovTimes shown AEDT
VIC 1vs BRI 0 Stats
PER 2vs WEL 1 Stats
Sat, 22 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1vs NEW 1 Stats
MCY 1vs SYD 2 Stats
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
CCM 0vs ADE 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 28 NovTimes shown AEDT
VIC 3vs ADE 2 Stats
Sat, 29 NovTimes shown AEDT
BRI 1vs PER 1 Stats
WSW 1vs SYD 1 Stats
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
WEL 5vs MCY 1 Stats
NEW 1vs CCM 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Thu, 04 DecTimes shown AEDT
SYD 1vs PER 2 Stats
Fri, 05 DecTimes shown AEDT
CCM 0vs VIC 3 Stats
Sat, 06 DecTimes shown AEDT
NEW 1vs WEL 3 Stats
ADE 2vs WSW 0 Stats
Sun, 07 DecTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1vs BRI 0 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 12 DecTimes shown AEDT
ADE 0vs BRI 1 Stats
PER 2vs NEW 0 Stats
Sat, 13 DecTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1vs CCM 1 Stats
VIC 3vs SYD 3 Stats
Wed, 11 MarTimes shown AEDT
WSW 3vs MCY 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 19 DecTimes shown AEDT
NEW 2vs ADE 1 Stats
Sat, 20 DecTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1vs VIC 0 Stats
PER 4vs CCM 1 Stats
Sun, 21 DecTimes shown AEDT
SYD 0vs WEL 2 Stats
Wed, 25 MarTimes shown AEDT
BRI 1vs WSW 4 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 26 DecTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1vs PER 1 Stats
SYD 0vs ADE 3 Stats
Sat, 27 DecTimes shown AEDT
CCM 3vs BRI 3 Stats
VIC 1vs NEW 0 Stats
Sun, 28 DecTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1vs WSW 0 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Tue, 30 DecTimes shown AEDT
NEW 2vs MCY 5 Stats
BRI 0vs SYD 0 Stats
Wed, 31 DecTimes shown AEDT
ADE 1vs WEL 3 Stats
Thu, 01 JanTimes shown AEDT
WSW 0vs CCM 0 Stats
Fri, 02 JanTimes shown AEDT
VIC 1vs PER 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Sat, 03 JanTimes shown AEDT
SYD 0vs NEW 0 Stats
Sun, 04 JanTimes shown AEDT
WEL 3vs BRI 0 Stats
CCM 2vs MCY 0 Stats
Mon, 05 JanTimes shown AEDT
PER 1vs ADE 2 Stats
Tue, 06 JanTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1vs VIC 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Sat, 24 JanTimes shown AEDT
ADE 7vs NEW 0 Stats
CCM 1vs SYD 5 Stats
Sun, 25 JanTimes shown AEDT
PER 3vs VIC 3 Stats
Sun, 01 FebTimes shown AEDT
MCY 2vs WSW 1 Stats
Mon, 02 FebTimes shown AEDT
BRI 3vs WEL 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 06 FebTimes shown AEDT
NEW 1vs BRI 2 Stats
Sat, 07 FebTimes shown AEDT
CCM 2vs ADE 1 Stats
VIC 3vs MCY 0 Stats
PER 1vs SYD 3 Stats
Sun, 08 FebTimes shown AEDT
WSW 2vs WEL 0 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CCM 0vs BRI 2 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
WEL 0vs MCY 0 Stats
NEW 1vs WSW 1 Stats
SYD 3vs VIC 3 Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
ADE 1vs PER 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
SYD 4vs CCM 2 Stats
ADE 2vs WSW 1 Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
WEL 2vs NEW 2 Stats
MCY 0vs PER 0 Stats
Wed, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 1vs VIC 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
MCY 3vs ADE 1 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
NEW 0vs CCM 0 Stats
WSW 3vs SYD 4 Stats
PER 2vs BRI 2 Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
VIC 2vs WEL 3 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
NEW 0vs SYD 1 Stats
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
WEL 2vs ADE 0 Stats
VIC 1vs PER 1 Stats
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1vs MCY 0 Stats
BRI 1vs WSW 0 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Thu, 12 MarTimes shown AEDT
ADE 2vs CCM 1 Stats
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
WSW 0vs VIC 3 Stats
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
MCY 4vs NEW 0 Stats
PER 1vs WEL 2 Stats
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
SYD 5vs BRI 4 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
SYD 0vs MCY 1 Stats
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1vs NEW 2 Stats
ADE 2vs VIC 2 Stats
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1vs PER 1 Stats
BRI 1vs WEL 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
VIC 2vs CCM 1 Stats
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1vs BRI 0 Stats
PER 3vs WSW 2 Stats
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
WEL 0vs SYD 3 Stats
NEW 0vs ADE 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 24
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
BRI 6vs CCM 1 Stats
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1vs MCY 1 Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
SYD 0vs ADE 1 Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
WEL 0vs VIC 3 Stats
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
NEW 0vs PER 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 25
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
VIC 0vs NEW 1 Stats
PER 0vs SYD 3 Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
ADE 2vs BRI 3 Stats
CCM 1vs WSW 0 Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
MCY 0vs WEL 0 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 26
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
WEL 3vs CCM 2 Stats
NEW 3vs SYD 4 Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
WSW 2vs ADE 1 Stats
BRI 0vs VIC 1 Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
PER 3vs MCY 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 27
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 2vs NEW 1 Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
WSW 1vs PER 2 Stats
ADE 4vs MCY 1 Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
WEL 1vs SYD 2 Stats
VIC 3vs CCM 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 28
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE 2vs BRI 1 Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
WEL 0vs MCY 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 29
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
VIC 3vs MCY 0 Stats
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 4vs ADE 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 30
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
VIC 3vs SYD 0 Stats
View All Fixtures
Hyundai A - 2014-15 - Ladder
Overall standings
Team P W L +/- Pts
Melbourne Victory 27 15 4 25 53
Sydney FC 27 14 5 17 50
Adelaide United 27 14 9 15 46
Wellington Phoenix 27 14 9 10 46
Melbourne City FC 27 9 10 -5 35
Brisbane Roar 27 10 13 -1 34
Perth Glory 27 14 5 10 50
Central Coast Mariners 27 5 14 -24 23
View all
 
Featured advertisers