Manchester United wrong to overlook Donny van de Beek: Richard Buxton
Van de Beek has shown that he is worthy of a more prominent role with United
Donny van de Beek is a Rolls-Royce midfielder who rarely gets taken out of the garage.
His finely tuned engine roars for Holland while barely stuttering with Manchester United.
Van de Beek continues to shimmer in brilliant orange, scoring in a 1-1 draw with Spain yesterday morning (Singapore time), but cannot catch the eye for the Red Devils.
Cancelling out Sergio Canales' opener on his former Amsterdam stomping ground offered a revealing insight into Old Trafford's potential future with the 23-year-old.
If they ever actually want it, that is.
United have never treated their £35 million (S$62.3m) signing from Ajax Amsterdam with the respect his obvious talent deserves, thanks to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's chronic mismanagement.
Van de Beek made a mere handful of English Premier League appearances before this international break, none of them as a starter.
His willingness to serve as a utility man allowed his manager to conveniently shunt a square peg into myriad round holes.
His 373 minutes in all competitions is among the lowest in United's squad, with a procession of unspectacular and workmanlike figures chosen ahead of him to fill the midfield berth by the beleaguered Norwegian.
Little wonder then why Dutch footballing royalty were queueing up to challenge the wisdom of van de Beek's move to the Theatre of Dreams.
Marco van Basten argued that his compatriot should have played the waiting game at Ajax instead of on the sidelines of Old Trafford.
DIFFICULT TO DISPUTE
That case is difficult to dispute when van de Beek rolled back the months against Spain in the preferred No. 10 role denied to him at United by an irrepressible Bruno Fernandes.
Opportunities to ghost in at the far post and drill home a half-volley, as he did in the second half at the Johan Cruyff Arena, are still likely to prove few and far between.
Last month, van de Beek had also scored for Holland during their 1-1 draw with Italy.
One wonders what more he needs to do to convince Solskjaer that he deserves a more prominent role.
The Norwegian has an ongoing fetish for United's 1999 Treble-winning side, when understated yet effective players were in vogue for Sir Alex Ferguson.
But Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic are not remotely in the same bracket as Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt.
Paul Pogba, equally, does not merit comparison with the homegrown duo. Nor the undue number of first-team outings he has been granted this season, despite mentally checking out of the club he was so desperate to rejoin little more than four years ago.
Reputation clearly supersedes reality for Solskjaer where the World Cup winner is concerned.
The former striker's eagerness to wheel out Pogba at van de Beek's personal expense is no longer a case of window dressing.
United's No. 34 should be primed to step into the void left by the France international, but is increasingly being deployed as a glorified warm-up act for Pogba's farewell tour.
Solskjaer remains adamant that everyone is now out to get his side. Conspiratorial ramblings about how the EPL had tried to set them up to fail make Donald Trump's efforts to falsely declare victory in the US presidential election seem almost tame in comparison.
He had, however, joined the alternative-facts brigade far earlier than last weekend with the audacious claim that important players do not necessarily start matches.
If the United boss wants to avoid a more undignified exit than Trump's impending removal from the White House, van de Beek must be at the forefront of his plans.