Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has praised the mentality of winger Daniel James, who has forced his way back into the fold at Manchester United in recent weeks.
The Welshman has struggled to build on the hot start he enjoyed upon first moving to Old Trafford in 2019 and has found himself on the fringes of the squad this year, with Solskjaer usually preferring the likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood.
However, James has impressed both in training and on the pitch in recent weeks, and his goal in Sunday’s 3-1 win over Newcastle means he now has three goals in his last five Premier League appearances, and he also chimed in with a goal and an assist in Thursday’s 4-0 win over Real Sociedad.
Speaking to BT Sport after the game, Solskjaer was full of praise for the 23-year-old, insisting the step up from the Championship to the Premier League is not as easy as most fans seem to assume.
“He has never disappeared, he’s been working hard behind the scenes, always been available, always a player you can use in different positions,” Solskjaer said. “He is learning the game and I’m very happy for him. We work with him, we try to help everyone.
“Dan came from the Championship up to Man Utd, hit a few goals in his first games it’s bound to take some energy away from you with the headlines and media attention but he has knuckled down and worked to get that confidence to believe in himself. Now he knows he is a good player.”
In his own post-match interview, James confessed that he fell off track last season, but he praised the United staff for not giving up on him and helping him work on his problems.
“People say I haven’t played so much recently, but I’ve just been working as hard as I can,” James said. “I’m doing everything I can when I do play. It was nice to get minutes in on Thursday and again today. I’ve got to do what I can when I do play, keep working on that.
“I’d say it was a turnaround. There was a moment last season when I wasn’t performing as well as I wanted to. This season I’ve reflected on that as much as I can, reflect on the games and working on the training ground as hard as I can.
“I think I lost my way a bit. I wasn’t playing the same as I did at the start of last season. That’s when I had to look at analysis. I’ve had the right people around me to help me look at that, working with the coaches to get me back to myself and I’d like to think I’ve got there.”