Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal says Angel Di Maria needs more time to settle in the Premier League.
The Argentina international has struggled to maintain his earlier form following a £60m transfer to United from Real Madrid.
The 27-year-old, who impressed in his initial matches on the back of his British-record transfer, has made little impact on recent games and was, even substituted at half-time in Saturday’s win against Sunderland.
Van Gaal believe there is no cause for alarm over Di Maria’s altered form, which he noted is not peculiar to the midfielder alone, adding that every player settling into a new environment experiences such conditioning in their first season.
“It counts for all the players we have bought, the first season is always difficult,” the Dutch boss said in his press conference on Tuesday at Carrington. “I explained that after the (Sunderland) match. You can see it with every player we bought: Shaw, Blind, Herrera, Falcao and also Di Maria.
“For me it is not a big surprise; it is more a big surprise (if) he (had) adapted quickly. In the Netherlands, Spain and Germany I had the same experience with players. We have to give him time as I’ve already said, not just for him but all the other players. We shall wait and see.”
Asked how long it will take Di Maria to settle at the Old Trafford club, the 63-year-old replied: “It is dependable, you have to manage so many aspects. Not just the game, but the culture.
“The general answer is one year but you can’t give a general answer. It is easy to say that, I cannot prove that. It is not scientifically proven.”
Fourth-placed United are locked in a desperate push for a top-four place and will look to improve on their poor away record (only three league wins on the road this season) when they visit Newcastle on Wednesday night.
Van Gaal’s side have won three of their last four Premier League games; their only loss being the 2-1 defeat at Swansea City in their last away fixture in February.
Robin van Persie, who picked up an ankle injury at the Liberty Stadium and missed the win over Sunderland at the weekend, will definitely not feature at St. James’ Park.
Midfielder Michael Carrick is doubtful for the Newcastle game despite being named on the bench for the win over the Black Cats.
Phil Jones, Luke Shaw and Victor Valdes sat out Saturday’s win and are likely in contention for the trip to Tyneside.
“Only Robin van Persie is injured,” Van Gall said of his compatriot while delivering his team’s injury concerns. “Last week I had to miss three players. Now I only have one injury and that is Van Persie. That doesn’t mean that all the players are going with me.”
He added: “I think it is too early for Michael carrick. He trained now in three training sessions with us. Because of the three players I didn’t bring with us (against Sunderland), he was in the 18 and I took a risk with that.
“As a substitute, you can play 20 minutes, which he can do. He has the experience so I can make an exception.”