Adnan Januzaj shows Manchester United quality for Sunderland but misses Old Trafford
Adnan Januzaj has finally delivered some of the 'Manchester United quality' boss David Moyes had demanded of the attacking talent.
What a shame then that now Januzaj has shown a bit of class that we will not see him again until New Year’s Eve.
Contractual reasons prevent him from gracing the wide expanses of Old Trafford on Boxing Day, given he is on a season-long loan from United.
However, that glimpse of quality was enough to help Sunderland to their vital 1-0 success over Watford on Saturday.
Fellow Belgian Jason Denayer prompted the attack from inside his own half, but it really caught fire when Januzaj shimmied past Younes Kaboul, threading a neat pass through to Jermain Defoe.
The skipper’s low cross found Patrick van Aanholt, whose turn and left-foot finish from six yards crept in via the post.
It was, arguably, Sunderland’s best move of the entire match, which is not saying too much given the contest was far from a classic.
That Januzaj was instrumental in it was most encouraging, especially to Moyes, who brought him from his old club in the summer.
The Sunderland boss said afterwards that the attacker is “capable of making the difference”.
There has to be some patience where he is concerned. While he has been fit for a week or six, his appearances have been limited and when he has had a lengthy run-out, like Arsenal and Swansea, those were not the best of afternoons for the team.
Hopefully, once he finds his rhythm he will do just that.
In the first half against the Hornets, there was a nice turn or two, an eye-catching backheel but nothing of any great substance.
He soon changed that after the break with that quick show of feet and pass to Defoe and, suddenly, he was a different player with that confidence running through his veins.
There were little signs too against Chelsea last Wednesday when he had a golden opportunity to score early in the second half, only for Thibaut Courtois to save.
He had a shot which was high, wide and handsome in the first half against the Blues too, so maybe Moyes might be proven right.
Sunderland fans will hope so – the side needs that quality and needs gas. It also requires goals and Januzaj will be charged with that responsibility in 2017.
However, he will miss the mouth-watering trip to Manchester United on Boxing Day. Where will Moyes look for a deputy? It would be nice should he display some faith in Wahbi Khazri.
The Tunisian was the big casualty following the 4-1 loss to Arsenal, though, it has to be said, he was not the only under-performer.
Precious little has been seen of him since. When the Black Cats lost Duncan Watmore ahead of the trip to Swansea, Moyes played safe and plumped for Seb Larsson. To be fair, it looked the sensible call.
However, it would be nice should Moyes replace flair with flair and go for Khazri.
Whatever he plumps for, at least the promise of Januzaj is starting to emerge.