In all these matches behind closed doors, Manchester United played over a relentless 10-month period, the only regular starter no one ever heard was Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
At an Adidas sponsorship event in Singapore three years ago, Wan-Bissaka declined to answer trivial questions, and a United employee admitted it did not look good. A headline in Singapore The new paper said: ‘United’s rising star is a shy Wan’.
The day before, Wan-Bissaka’s sliding tackles against Inter Milan provoked the singing of ‘Bissaka’ from an admiring crowd. By his third appearance, it was the most he ever attached to any United supporters.
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At the time, Wan-Bissaka’s discomfort could be forgiven. He had not been subjected to such scrutiny by Crystal Palace, and those are the days without playing on tour where United’s big size goes up for a newly signed player. Wan-Bissaka recovered from a difficult time settling in the Northwest to enjoy a positive first season.
On his only overseas tour of the mixed zone in Perth, Wan-Bissaka was asked an innocent question about the childhood image of him wearing a United shirt. “Should I answer that?” he asked United’s press officer.
It was a sign that Wan-Bissaka did not have the personality in line with a true United player. He barely lived up to the ‘cultural reset’ criteria for ‘X-factor’ transfer targets, who were humble off the field and arrogant as soon as they pulled on the jersey.
United did no favors for Wan-Bissaka with the infamous 804-long list of right-backs they had allegedly scouted before settling on the most obvious goal. United staff regrets the uniqueness of this briefing.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær and his staff quickly became dissatisfied with Wan-Bissaka’s attacking effect, and United tried to sign Kieran Trippier last year. Wan-Bissaka has collected 10 assists for United. Trent Alexander-Arnold has 19 this season alone.
After less than three years, United are reducing their losses to a player they invested £ 50 million in. In an era where backs are playmakers for the Premier League elite, Wan-Bissaka was a risk-averse setback.
Defensively, Wan-Bissaka was almost impregnable in his first season and only made mistakes in Watford, where he overestimated the length of his right limb and conceded a penalty kick.
Early last season, Brighton targeted Wan-Bissaka with a cross to the far post he almost always read incorrectly, and without a credible coach to correct the shortcoming, he was still caught as late as Solskjær’s last match in charge at Vicarage Road. .
There was no consistent pattern in Wan-Bissaka’s approach. In the home game against Liverpool in October, he pressed anarchically and ended up on the edge of Liverpool’s third as the ball was worked past him to the first goal. Two weeks later, both Manchester City’s goals fell on Wan-Bissaka’s side as a result of an offensive defense scolded by Graeme Souness and Roy Keane.
It was during that defeat that Wan-Bissaka brought a United supporter to his feet – to blame him for not committing to a tackle. Solskjær occasionally had to place Wan-Bissaka, and Michael Carrick did the same under his three-game caretaker.
Wan-Bissaka will have trained against Daniel James hundreds of times during their two years together at United, but he was still routinely bypassed for Leeds’ equalizer at Elland Road in February. Wan-Bissaka, who was inexplicably retained for the March derby at the Etihad, was again porous as City took advantage of United down the right. Wan-Bissaka’s lethargy made Fred so furious that he started yelling at him.
His only recall since was both on Merseyside and Goodison or Anfield is due to shrink violets. Wan-Bissaka shrank.
On one of Wan-Bissaka’s first foray into Manchester after signing for United, he visited Selfridges in Exchange Square and was quickly monitored by photographers. Wan-Bissaka rang them just as he was about to leave the building and stopped abruptly, conferred with a friend and waited.
He pulled his hood up and after about 10 minutes he mingled into the busy city center and to a waiting car at St Mary’s Gate. If Wan-Bissaka were more familiar with Manchester, he would have taken his departure via the underground car park.
Some players’ personalities reflect how they play, and Wan-Bissaka was too introverted to succeed at United. Teammates noted his withdrawn nature, and staff have lamented his lack of integration.
He’s still a shy Wan.