The former Ajax midfielder was called on the replace the suspended Portuguese playmaker, who reached the Premier League’s yellow card limit.
And Van de Beek was handed one of the biggest chances of his Man United career in starting in his favoured number ten role.
He failed to take advantage in a performance that directly contributed to Aston Villa’s 3-1 victory over the Red Devils.
For all of the talk of Van de Beek’s off-ball running, he was utterly invisible in Birmingham.
A playmaker needs to be available to his teammates, but the fact that the Dutchman managed just eighteen touches in over an hour shows just how easy Villa found it to pick up his runs.
Van de Beek cannot possibly hope to feature regularly for United when he is finishing matches with just 13 successful passes to show for it, particularly when he plays it so safe.
He attempted no dribbles and mustered just one shot, which was easily blocked.
Essentially an invisible man when United had the ball, he fared no better defensively.
Van de Beek won no tackles, made no interceptions, and was ineffective in any attempt to pressure an opponent.
He didn’t even engage in a single ground duel in the entirety of his appearance, much less succeed in one.
It is fairly common, if somewhat undesirable, for a team to have a passenger in one phase of play should that player excel in another.
Unfortunately for Manchester United, Donny van de Beek seems to be a passenger in all phases of play.
(All stats taken from SofaScore)
United Matchday Magazine – be in the know about everything red!
Take your seat for the Aston Villa match and join the debate on the hottest United topics!
- Get all the match build-up, articles, news, puzzles, nostalgia and humour
- Online football content like you’ve never seen before
- No ads, no clickbait, no fake news – just 100% pure United
- Instantly delivered to your device with easy and secure online ordering
- Click Preview to see more or buy for just £1.25/$1.50