Daniel James is eager to mark his European debut for Manchester United with a win over AZ that could ease the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
United head to the Netherlands for Thursday’s match looking to make it two wins from two in the Europa League this season following a hard-fought 1-0 win over Astana on matchday one.
Solskjaer’s men have won just two of their past eight games in all competitions, not including the penalty shoot-out success against League One Rochdale in the EFL Cup, and scrutiny on the manager is growing.
James missed the win over Astana, when Mason Greenwood scored the only goal, but is in line to make his first appearance in European competition at the Cars Jeans Stadion, the venue AZ have been using since the roof collapsed at AFAS Stadion in August.
The Wales international thinks a positive result will stand United in good stead to reach the knockout phase and quieten some of their recent critics.
“I’ve had my taste of the Premier League and now playing in Europe is always different,” he told MUTV.
Right foot? Left foot?
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) October 1, 2019
“Astana came to us and some people wrote them off before they played but they gave us a good game. I think you can never write these teams off. They wouldn’t be in the competition if they weren’t very good teams. Every game we play in Europe, we have got to be ready for it and prepare right.
“It was important to get off to a good start and it is another one where we have to go and win as it just takes the pressure off us, really. That comes with people expecting us to go through in the group, so to get two early wins would be great.
“As you see, when we score, we’re all together and, when we concede, we’re all together. It’s so important. We’ve got a great group here and the team spirit is a massive part of it.”
ADO Den Haag’s ground, the venue for Thursday’s game, has an artificial pitch but James does not think playing on such a surface would be any excuse for a poor performance.
“All the boys played on them growing up,” he said. “It’s going to be a different test, obviously, as playing abroad is always hard. It’s different to play in the Premier League but it’s one we’re looking forward to and are going to be ready for.
“I think the surfaces [synthetic and grass] are similar really. It’s a bit harder than normal grass but the ball moves the same on it.
“It’s something the boys know they can’t do anything about and it’s not something we’re going to let get into our heads.”
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