Manchester United striker James Wilson is determined to use a year-long loan at Aberdeen to relaunch his career and avoid being written off as just another youngster who suffered from getting too much too soon.
That was certainly a fear former Old Trafford reserve team manager Warren Joyce has voiced in the past of someone who now is in the last of a four-year £30,000-a-week contract with the club after bursting on to the scene with two goals in his debut against Hull City in 2014.
Then manager Louis van Gaal had high hopes for the player back then but his stock has since slumped with loan spells at Brighton, Sheffield United and Derby, where he suffered a serious knee injury.
Joyce’s concern was that, along with other bright prospects such as Adnan Januzaj and Frederico Machedo, Wilson had lost his way as they did “not play the games, not train as hard, sit in jacuzzis and not do the same weights and sessions they did to get there” to the top level.
It’s not a criticism Wilson is prepared to accept and he insists Dons boss Derek McInnes need have no fear that he has brought in a slacker. When asked about the allegations he said:“I think all that is totally irrelevant.
“I was working as hard in training after I broke in, if not even harder. I had my injury but was already on loan by that point as well.
“Things didn’t work out at United but I didn’t get the game time I wanted because that’s a big ask at a club like that.
“I am grateful for the chances I got but I just had to move on because I wanted to be someone who showed they can play.
“My first loan move was at Brighton. That was a big move because it was the first loan and the first time I moved away from home. Arguably, that was my best spell. I’m not saying I’m trying to replicate it here, but I think it’s good for me to be out of my comfort zone. I think it’s a good thing moving away, joining a new dressing room and experiencing a new environment.”
Of course, it’s hardly surprising that Wilson’s game time was so limited at a club whose striking options include Alexis Sanchez and Marcus Rashford in addition to Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial who cost £75 million and £36m in transfer fees respectively.
That and the fact the 22-year-old’s lucrative contract with Manchester United ends next summer means Wilson is well aware that the pressure is really on him to deliver during this loan spell at Pittodrie. That’s why he is determined to make a similar impact at Aberdeen to previous loan signings James Maddison and Danny Ward, who both made multi- million pound moves to Leicester City in the summer.
“My time at Aberdeen will be the biggest move of my career” he admits. “I have never been in the last year of my contract before so my future depends on what happens here.
“There is an option to give me another contract but with all the big-money signings United have made and how my career has gone, I’d expect to be moving on.
“I am not totally resigned to the fact I’ll be leaving but it’s highly likely that I need to put myself into the shop window this season.
“That’s football these days.The big clubs can bring in the big-money signings and go for the players that have proved themselves already.
“All that I can do is be confident in myself and try to perform day in, day out and hopefully progress as a player and a person.
“I am out of my comfort zone here, but I see that as a good thing and hopefully the options will come thick and fast at the end of it.”
The signing ends Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes’ frustrating summer-long search to replace top scorer Adam Rooney, who moved to non-league Salford City, and he couldn’t be more pleased with the calibre of striker he has eventually secured.
“You don’t play for Manchester United if you don’t have something special about you,” said McInnes. “There was a lot expected of him and for whatever reason, injuries and alike, he’s now found himself where, like a lot of loan players, he has had a lot of ups and downs.
“Particularly at a club like Manchester United, where you can seem so far away from the first team. It’s important now he feels this is a step to where he needs to get to. He’s already shown in spells in his young career his potential to be a top, top player.
“If he can play regular football here I’m sure that potential will be fulfilled, whether that’s going back to Manchester United or other options elsewhere.”