Zee Media Bureau/Jayanta Oinam
New Delhi: It was a sort of change of guard at Old Trafford on Saturday. Not to be confused with the arrival of Louis van Gaal as the new Manchester United manager, though! The opening match of the 2014-15 English Premier League season between United and Swansea witnessed a new player in the number 11 shirt manning the left-wing at Old Trafford.
After more than two decades, club legend Ryan Giggs allowed someone other than himself to wear that prestigious number. Giggs, now an assistant manager to van Gaal, won every possible title wearing the number 11 shirt. However, on Saturday a rather diminutive Belgian teenager wore the number.
Adnan Janujaz, who joined United the age of 16 in March 2011 from Anderlecht, was the heir apparent to Giggs. Following his promotion to the first team squad in 2012-13 under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson, the Belgian World Cup player had impressed everyone with his skills and the desire the compete in the highest level.
On an afternoon of many firsts for the embattling club, Junujaz started from the bench against Swansea. When the new boss, van Gaal brought him for the injured debutante Jesse Lingard, the number 11 became all his. The young winger said that, "It was a big honour for me and my family and I was very happy to have it given to me.”
Last season, he appeared 27 times in the league scoring four goals and helped steady United`s troubling season after injuries forced players like Robin van Persie out of action. Talking about the pressure of wearing the prestigious number which was once owned by non other Giggs, Janujaz said, “There is pressure on me because there was a legend in front of me who had it for 20 years, but I am really happy with that.”
The occasion, however, was somewhat subdued with the 1-2 defeat. The young winger did admit that the match was disappointing but stressed nothing should be read into the defeat. "It was a very disappointing match but it’s only the first one of the season so it’s nothing. We’ll move on to the next one now,” added Januzaj.