Matteo Darmian is fully aware of the competition he’ll face at right-back this season but is relishing the challenge at Manchester United.
The Italian joined last summer and settled down almost immediately with some extremely commanding performances but a shocker away to Arsenal was the prelude to the rest of the season which unfortunately slowly fell apart for him.
However, as with all the players, he’s got an opportunity as a fresh start under Jose Mourinho and is ready to fight for his place in the squad.
“The game was important to play because I’d worked for just one week,” Darmian told ManUtd.com.
“I came back only last week so I have to improve my condition but it was okay out there.
“I think it’s good to have such competition within the squad because there are a lot of good players for every position in a big team. You just have to be ready for when the manager gives you a chance. I think he’s a great manager, he’s very hungry and his victories and successes speak volumes for him.
“We want to improve this week to be ready for the first game of the season.”
I see Darmian as the sort of player who could thrive under Mourinho. He’s disciplined, full of energy and is good as an overlapping runner – three characteristics any modern day full-back needs to have. With Jose in charge, Darmian’s got the potential to grow into a top drawer full-back more so than Antonio Valencia but Timothy Fosu-Mensah will be vying for that spot as well and he’s one hell of a talent.
Although Darmian acknowledges he can play at left-back, he’s so much more comfortable on the right and Mourinho prefers specialist players who adopt one specific role, rather than somebody who is versatile. That could play into Darmian’s hands.
At the start of last year I was so excited by Darmian’s performances. “We’ve finally replaced Gary Neville properly,” I thought at one stage, prematurely. However, he’s now in the right position to kick on and fulfil that potential – with the right frame of mind there is every chance Darmian could become one of the most improved players under Mourinho in the same fashion as Chris Smalling did under Louis van Gaal.