Manchester United's move away from a system that supports traditional wingers is "normal," even if it leaves players like Memphis Depay struggling for first-team chances, according to the club's former winger, Andrei Kanchelskis.
Depay, 22, arrived at Old Trafford in the summer of 2015 after an explosive final season with PSV Eindhoven, inspiring the club to their Eredivisie title success and finishing as the league's top scorer.
Despite occasional flashes of brilliance during his first season in English football under Louis van Gaal, the Netherlands international has largely flattered to deceive. Under Jose Mourinho, his opportunities have been scarce, having started just one game for the club in all competitions this season, getting just 126 minutes of first-team football under his belt in that period.
Under Mourinho, United have abandoned the use of traditional wingers. Juan Mata continues to operate on the right despite preferring a free role, while Marcus Rashford, who burst onto the scene as a central striker last season, has occupied the opposite wing.
Anthony Martial, who routinely attacked full-backs with menace cutting in from the left last season, has not started a game for the former Chelsea manager since September.
Kanchelskis, who regularly tore up the right wing for United between 1991 and 1995, acknowledges the days of teams operating with two traditional wingers are now over, but says players must learn to adapt to the changes.
When asked about Depay's struggles to earn game time in his favoured role, Kanchelskis, who was speaking at the official opening of William Hill's new Everton Shop on Goodison Road, told IBTimes UK: "United now play a different system. Before when United played 4-4-2, there were more wingers playing (in the game) giving service to the attacking players, especially the forwards.
"The new coach has new ideas, plays a new system and has decided to play with no wingers. Manchester United always played with 4-4-2 with wingers for a long time. Now, there is not too many good wingers around. This is a problem for United because there is not much service for their attacking players. Now, they need some time for the changes in the system, the different system, because Mourinho has changed it and van Gaal before (him). But it is normal, change is normal, everything changes, it is not like before."
While Depay's United future currently looks bleak, Everton manager Ronald Koeman appears prepared to offer his countryman an exit route, confirming in a press conference on Thursday (17 November) that he is interested in signing the player in the January transfer window.
Despite Depay insisting he is not yet ready to throw in the towel at Old Trafford, an offer for a first-team role at Goodison Park could prove tempting.
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