Having been re-called from his Borussia Dortmund loan spell due to lack of game time, most fans saw the Reading game as the perfect opportunity for him to ease himself back into competitive football.
Instead, van Gaal has decided it was too much of a risk to play Januzaj, citing his match fitness was so bad that he couldn’t play.
Understandably, that left plenty of United fans perplexed:
So Januzaj wont be playing in the U21's tonight. He's like the Anakin Skywalker of EPL; a great talent but a bit too unpredictable. #MUFC
— Jimi Kuningas (@KuningasJimi) January 11, 2016
@PeoplesPerson_ He's consistent with being inconsistent
— GirlOnUtd (@GirlOnUtd) January 11, 2016
@PeoplesPerson_ One minute he says he can't play people because they haven't had game time, now he comes out with this. Definitely lost it.
— Iain McCartney (@iainmccartney) January 11, 2016
Van Gaal has always held the mantra that playing for the U21s is a right of passage of sorts. A place where any player can expect to go when he needs to work on his fitness to bring him up to first-team standards, so it was surely the perfect place for Januzaj to do just that.
For him to have been left out, his fitness must be truly diabolical. Sure, he hadn’t played competitive football since December 12 but bear in mind this is the same Januzaj who took a fitness expert out to Dubai with him during the off-sesaon in order to work on improving himself.
The only way Januzaj is going to help United this season is by getting back to the sort of form he showed with a match winning performance against Aston Villa before he went out on loan. How is he supposed to do that if he can’t get a game with the U21s?