Welcome to the first user contribution on Stretford End Arising.
Matthew James went from a youngster known only to the devoted followers of Manchester United reserves and U-18’s to one of the best prospects to play in the Championship last season over the course of 4 months. His impressive displays for Preston in Midfield showing why he is so highly rated by the coaching staff at United.
Born in Bacup, near Rochdale, James joined the Manchester United Academy at an early age, and made his first appearance for the under-18 side in October 2005, at the age of 14. He gradually started making more regular apperances for the youth team until he became a regular in the 2007-08 season. He made his reserves debut the same year and moving on to become a regular for the reserves the next season. He soon became a mainstay at both Reserve and youth level.
James received his first call-up to the Manchester United senior team on 24 May 2009. Given the number 47 jersey, James was named on the bench for the match, but did not take to the field. The following month he signed his first professional contract. He was given the no. 43 for the 2009-10 season and was on the bench for the fourth round league cup game against Barnsley.
In February 2010, he Joined Danny Welbeck on loan at Preston North End for the remainder of the season. He went straight into the Preston first-team for their match against Sheffield United on 9 February 2010, and scored within 10 minutes. He went on to impress and became a mainstay in the Preston midfield as they tried to challenge for a play-off spot. He went on to chalk up 18 appearances for PNE and scoring two goals in the process. James has been a regular for England at the youth level, representing them from the U-16’s onwards and was part of the team that took part in the U-19 world champioships last year.
James is a versatile player, preferrably playing in the midfield but can fill in at defence when required. Known for his exquisite passing drawing comparisons with United legend Paul Scholes, another similarity he shares with Scholes is a the ability to score from distance, he’s known to have a very powerful long shot. He’s a hard worker and is a workhorse in midfield and is decent in the air. He was recently praised by Sir Alex along with Cleverley and Welbeck for their excellent performances while out on loan and great attitude. His only weakness is said to be a lack of Pace but otherwise a great player overall.
James is linked to return to PNE on loan for next season but since the Club’s orders to wind up, its unclear whether he’ll be joining them. But he’ll most likely return to the Championship for another season on loan and if his progress goes on expected lines then shouldn’t be surprising to see him break into the United first team in the 2011-12 season.
Verdict: James is showing enough potential at the moment to expect bigger things from him and wont be surprising to see him play for United in Midfield in the near future. Seems a better all round player than Gibson, but he needs to continue improving before he can be considered to be a contender in the first team. His versatility does give him a extra advantage.