Why isn’t Adnan Januzaj in Man United’s Champions League squad?

Adnan Januzaj

Author: Doron

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Everyone wants everything immediately. There’s no patience in football anymore. Adnan Januzaj made an impressive league debut for United off the bench against 10-man Palace at the weekend but won’t be involved in United’s squad to face Leverkusen tomorrow. There’s plenty of logic and common sense behind that decision, not that you’d know if you logged into social media networks…

Man United submitted both UEFA Champions League and UEFA Youth League squads just under two weeks ago. In previous years, the most talented youth players may have been named in the former, on the infamous B-List – a secondary list that rewards clubs for wanting to include their own academy players by letting them be included on top of the 25 man strong A-List squad. The rules state that to feature on the B-List a player must have been born on or after 1st January 1992 and have to be have been eligible to play for the club for an unbroken two year period since turning 15.

The great thing about the B-List is that it’s flexible, players can be added to it up to 24 hours before a Champions League fixture. So if a team wins their group with a game to spare and therefore wants to include some kids in the final group match, they can register them on the B-List and add them to the squad. This season United have listed Sam Johnstone, Tom Thorpe, Jesse Lingard, Larnell Cole and William Keane on the B-List. There are a couple of notable exclusions: Michael Keane and Adnan Januzaj – two kids who were both involved in pre-season on tour. Michael’s exclusion but Thorpe’s inclusion suggests a loan is likely to follow for him whilst for Januzaj less guess-work is required.

This season, UEFA have introduced their version of the successful NextGen Series. All Champions League sides will submit an U19 team into a competition that will run in parallel to the main competition with the same groups, the UEFA Youth League. As such, United have submitted an U19 squad, to be managed by Nicky Butt.

United are to take this competition seriously – there are some excellent youth sides involved and it’ll be a great opportunity for our kids to test where they’re up to. Importantly, getting used to winning is important at youth level and so no competition is taking lightly. As such, Adnan Januzaj, the undoubted star of that age group at the club, is included in the U19 squad. He’ll have a chance to be the focal point of a good team and make his own mark on the European stage having already done so domestically.

Some fans are seemingly miffed as to why he’s in that squad rather than the main Champions League squad. To me there’s a very simple and logical answer. United want him to get minutes and play games – the UEFA Youth League games take place on the same day as the first team games, just a few hours earlier. No player will be physically ready to play for the first team straight after playing for an U19 side and so for now, he’ll be with our U19s rather than the first team. You may be quick to point out that he’s already showing signs that he may be ready for more first team minutes but to go from a cameo against a depleted Crystal Palace to taking on good European sides is a big step up.

More to the point, David Moyes is unlikely to take any risks in the opening Champions League games. Like he did against Chelsea and Liverpool in the league, he’ll turn to experienced first team players to fill spots in the squad. As talented as Januzaj may be and as positive as his naivety may be, this isn’t the competition to mess around in and gamble. For Januzaj to even make the bench, a whole host of first team players would need to be either injured or suspended and so it’s better he plays and hopefully shines with the U19s in their competition for now. Should United win their group with games to spare, there’s nothing to suggest Januzaj won’t then get registered and play a part in any dead rubber games.

Hype is a dangerous thing. For a lot of fans, pre-season would have been the first team they’d truly seen Januzaj. There seems to be a mad desire from fans to rush prospects not only into the first team squad but into the starting line up well before they’re ready. United, as history suggests, will rewards players who are ready but by no means will rush a player through the stages. Those who cite the Pogba scenario must also remember that it was a one-off, it hadn’t happened to United before and was a lot to do with the personality of the player and agent involved. There is little to suggest it will happen again, particularly with Januzaj.

Views of a player get warped very quickly. Some fans are already suggesting that Januzaj is better than Valencia or Young which simply isn’t true. He may well go on to be a better player than them but right now he’s got a long way still to go. It’s worth remembering that the clamour to involve Januzaj was two weeks ago a clamour to involve Kagawa and a week before that a clamour to involve Zaha. He’s the flavour of the month right now and there are still lots of players ahead of him. If you’re worried that he’s not in the Champions League squad, don’t be – there’s a logical reason behind his non-inclusion and he will get his chances over the course of the coming seasons.

NB: he still has to be registered on the B-List to play in the CL, if you think he doesn’t because of his age you are unfortunately incorrect. If you want to read the rules regarding registration, they’re here (p.27-30).

20 Comments on Why isn’t Adnan Januzaj in Man United’s Champions League squad?

  1. Interesting read; I think it makes sense for him to get experience with the U19 before being included in the senior B list if we qualify with a game or two to spare.

    I think most fans (myself included) are just really nervous that we end up losing this player the same way we lost Pogba.

    I think a more important question is WHY HAVE MAN UTD NOT YET TIED DOWN JANUZAJ ON A LONGTERM CONTRACT?!!!

    Apparently Real Madrid offered €40M for Pogba this transfer window. Nobody really knows why Pogba left, but if it was for money then surely common sense should have prevailed. Because whatever we would have offered him it would have been cheaper than €40M!!!!

    There seems to be this ridiculous issue that if a player comes through the youth ranks we shouldn’t pay the market salary for them!

  2. @MK – the club are in negotiations with Januzaj but as ever, these can take a while to conclude. There are strict rules about how long a deals players can sign when they’re young. A good example of how long it can take is Chalobah at Chelsea – for months there were contract talks and only recently was a deal signed. I wouldn’t despair, yet!

  3. Saying Adnan is better than young & valence on present form is a compliment to adnan’s potential. Apart from experience & strength,i don’t see anything else young or valencia could show adnan how to do. Adnan can dribble better than both,pass better,hold the ball better,clever than both, in short apart from kagawa i don’t see any player in the current utd squad that make playing with the ball seem so easy like adnan. This article seem to be saying,Doron always say that adnan is not ready, the same y’all said about pogba. look at him now. We envy youth from other clubs(luke shaw,wilshire,ross barkley,lucas moura,munain,), but down grade ours to not being ready. If he’s not ready now when will he?! I Say play him vs city! The kid hasn’t put a foot wrong anytime he’s given’t the chance to play. & i get why he’s not in the champions league squad. Even if he was in the squad & manage to start a game, it’s not like the rest of the squad will be all 18yrs old, there’ll be only adnan who’ll have the support of 10 other men,grown men.

  4. “Some fans are already suggesting that Januzaj is better than Valencia or Young which simply isn’t true”
    Hmmm. Debatable. I know that many United fans would prefer to see a player like Januzaj picked ahead of Young, simply because of what the two players represent. One is a bang average big head lucky to be there and another is a supremely talented youngster. Manchester United, for me, should always favour the latter. Plus, have we learnt nothing from Pogba? As much as bloggers like yourself like to point to his attitude etc, the fact remains he left United because poor-to-average players were consistently picked ahead of him. Can we risk it again with Januzaj? If they’re serious about him as a player, they need to prove it. Being cautious with youngsters and with the playing style may be Moyes’ preferred approach, but it has very rarely been ours. Young flair players have always been given a chance, indeed the club is defined by their successes. As a supporter, I’d much rather see Januzaj more than Young and Valencia, and it’s a sad indictment that bloggers like yourself seem blind to this fact. Exciting football is what we’re all about. If we give that up, we might as well all go fucking home.

  5. @MagicHat Remember it is Sir Alex who let Pogba slip through our fingers; not Moyes. Moyes has done what Sir Alex failed to do and that is give Januzaj a lot playing time right at the start of the season. Compare this to Pogba where a) he wasn’t taken on tour and 2) didn’t play until the Carling Cup and the wasn’t seen for months.

    Januzaj now feels integrated into the senior playing group and hopefully that should convince him to commit his future.

    Moyes brought him on when we were only 1-0 up with 25 minutes to go! If that is not risk taking and believeing youth then what is?!

  6. ed- nice write up, answers a few questions as i was one who was very worried that he was not included when other less talented youngsters were……makes sense to do it this way though!
    MK- Pogba was/is an idiot. in case you hadnt noticed our old gaffer was very good at weeding out, or even, not allowing in….idiots, its conducive to a long term winning formula…..funnily enough!

  7. oh and ed, as good an article as this was, i too am with most fans who believe adnan is already a better player than young, more consistent and reliable than nani, and on valencias current form, better than him too. for me, there is not even a question about this, he is head and shoulders the most rounded young footballer i have ever seen at our club….bar none, but agree he is being managed in the right way as we are doing, and i certainly would not be starting him away at citeh, but would almost have to have him on the bench every week. that is the only thing i would do different to moyes atm, and anymore cameos like the other day and he wont be able to leave him out either! 😉

  8. In his press conference this afternoon Moyes confirmed that Adnan will be available on the B list after the second group stage match. He also said he is confident in him signing a long term contract. Good news all round.

  9. Re Pogba I suggest people read the trancript of the Harvard Business School talk that SAF gave recently. Never lose control was one of his most important tenets; look at how many players he shipped out of United when he saw a problem with their ego or attitude. Morrison will be an England regular in a few years but he and Pogba were too disruptive to the rest of the U21s. Temperament and Discipline are as important as technique and athleticism. Adnam needs games and a bit of physical development but he is the future for United no question.

  10. @Realist regarding Pogba I don’t think it’s as simple as that. I don’t call trying for twelve motnhs to convince him to sign weeding out idiots. I agree he is a charater but we’ve had a few of them over the years!!

  11. MK – it was in this period, imo, that Pogbas true nature came across. are you suggesting that fergie didnt rate his ability?
    for me Pogba was the best player i had seen for a very long time in the youth and reserves, and im not for one moment thinking that sir alex did not see this potential. i just believe he wanted too much too soon, regarding games and money, and since he has left he has shown what a fool he is in my opinion with the things he keeps saying.
    at the end of the day, sir alex knew his shit and would have noted his attitude prolems way before any of us!
    surely your not suggesting he just didnt want to play for united?

  12. @Realist I believe the reason we are seeing so much of Januzaj now is that the club (sir Alex) feel they mismanaged Pogba. After thinking long and hard I believe that Pogba really did want first team experience and that was the main reason he left.

    I don’t think Sir Alex underestimated his talent, but I think he just assumed he would renew. If he did underestimate him he wouldn’t of tried for 12 months to get him to sign.

    Mistakes (I think anyway):

    a) He wasn’t taken on tour.
    b) He wasn’t invlolved against lesser premier league teams.
    c) Our midfield was poor at the beginning of that season (which prompted Scholes returning) but he still had to watch Jones, Rafael and Park selected ahead of him.

    I also agree however that his behaviour was wrong after Fergie, Ferdinand, Evra were constantly trying to persuade him to stay. Fergie started selecting him in March but it was too late.

    I don’t understand how a 19 year old can have the balls to hold a club like Man Utd to ransom for so long!!! Especially with Sir Alex in charge.

  13. @max – thanks for your advice on what we should and shouldn’t post. This went live before his press conference as a result of people on social networks questioning why he wasn’t in the CL squad.

  14. @MK – not sure how much this really has to do with Pogba to be honest. We simply couldn’t play him as he was performing so badly with our U21s at the time – he clearly wasn’t ready. What he’s gone on to achieve is no surprise either, we all knew he’d become a great player and if he had more patience, he’d have become that player at us.

  15. its pathetic to blame pogba for that happened. fans are not stupid. it’s glazers and fergies fault not pogba. it respect to pogba for fighting for his rights..

  16. sorry Doron, but you have your facts completely wrong, Adnan Januzaj could not have been included on the B list, simply because he doesn’t meet the required criteria, yet.

    he will meet them on october 7. and will probably be included from there on.
    maybe you wrote this article before all the details about this came out, but its about time to remove this article from this site, it’s not based on facts.

  17. @Martin – it was written before the club said that and was written on the basis that I’d calculated the dates and believed him to be eligible already. The piece won’t be removed just because it’s wrong as much of it remains relevant still and there’s no shame in being incorrect.

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