How Manchester United star Amad has answered biggest concern at Sunderland – George Smith

The Manchester United youngster, following his mid-season loan move to the Scottish giants, did not play a single minute of the club&aposs fairytale run to the final against Eintracht Frankfurt, instead being restricted to bench-warming duties for nine consecutive European fixtures. He missed out on being a part of the dismantling of Borussia Dortmund and the heroic comeback against RB Leipzig.

But as the January transfer window approaches this time around, the Ivorian is unlikely to be making a mid-season switch for the third year running. That is because he has found somewhere when he can strut his stuff on a regular basis.

After a difficult time north of the border with Rangers in the second half of last season, Amad returned to Old Trafford ahead of the start of this season probably thinking that he would be sent out on loan again. He had failed to cut the mustard in Glasgow and had, arguably, returned to M16 further away from the first-team squad than when he left.

On the eve of deadline day, United sanctioned another temporary loan exit for the Ivorian, allowing him to join Sunderland on a season-long loan deal. The likes of Ethan Laird, Teden Mengi, James Garner and Tahith Chong had all spent time on loan in the Championship last season, each impressing in their own right, meaning a move to England&aposs second-tier, which has the ability to separate the strong from the weak, seemed logical in the next step of Amad&aposs development.

While there was never any doubting Amad&aposs potential, backed up by United&aposs decision to invest 37million in his signature almost two years ago, he joined Sunderland knowing that he had to prove himself capable of delivering the goods in England. With respect, the Championship produces a much higher standard of football than the Scottish Premiership does.

Amad, however, must have been feeling an experience dj vu at the beginning of his Sunderland career, making seven of his first eight appearances for the club via the substitutes bench. It was a concerning trend, given he had joined the Black Cats to try and kick-start his career in England.

But it was after just four appearances in a Sunderland shirt, all of which had come as substitute, that Black Cats manager Tony Mowbray hinted at why the United loanee was failing to force his way into his plans from the start of matches. Though he waxed lyrical about the youngster&aposs undoubted ability, silky skills and potential, he expressed concerns about his lack of productivity inside the final third.

“You see how talented he is, and you can see why he&aposs at Man United, but you can also understand why he&aposs out on loan, to develop the core materials you need to be a competitive footballer,” said Mowbray, speaking in early-October. “He needs to find a better end product.

“He has all this soft, lovely feet and brilliant skills, but he needs to shoot when he gets in the box. When he sees the goal, he needs to shoot, and he needs to add goals and assists to his name.

“It&aposs not enough just to be a lovely footballer who can dribble and go past people, but never have an end product. That&aposs the message, yet it&aposs not a simple one.

“You have to keep repeating it to him all the time we have to drill into him that we want him to shoot and get in the box. Can he score a scruffy goal, can he get a rebound off the goalie? We have to get him into those positions, but when it all clicks for him, he&aposs going to be some footballer because he&aposs got every attribute you want.”

Since making that statement, Amad has answered Mowbray&aposs mission; he has scored four goals and grabbed one assist in his last six appearances, his latest goal arriving in Saturday&aposs 3-0 win over Millwall. It is almost as though a switch has been flicked and Amad has now joined the party.

His goal against Millwall on Saturday was as a result of him being in the right place at the right time, tucking the ball home from two yards about, whereas his strike against Birmingham City prior to the World Cup break was a work of art, bending home a glorious, left-footed effort at the end of a strong run. Each goal showed the different sides to his game: the determined one and the luxurious one.

While Mowbray, off the back of Amad&aposs recent exploits, will almost certainly be telling him to remain focused and not get ahead of himself, the United loanee&aposs recent purple patch offers plenty of promise and optimism. He has answered his manager&aposs call and must now continue in the same vein of form to try and force his way into Erik ten Hag&aposs future plans at Old Trafford.


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