Memphis Depay has a problem, but it’s not his Rolls Royce


Manchester United have got 99 problems, but a whip ain’t one.

Football’s wild things aren’t what they used to be.Time was you had to sleep with Miss World, wrap your car around a tree or at least destroy your own home with fireworks to meet the ‘bad boy’ qualifying standard.Not any more.Manchester United’s Memphis Depay has this season found himself under fire for crimes as grievous as wearing a hat and driving to the shops.In November, while on international duty with the Netherlands, Depay was put in the surreal position of having to justify his decision to wear a wide-brimmed hat to journalists – which he did with admirable logic:

One particularly ludicrous article asked whether Depay was a Dutch Ravel Morrison, while deputising such damning evidence as Ronald Koeman’s belief that young players spend too much time “stuck to their smartphones”. The horror. This most recent controversy saw Depay pictured in a Manchester car park getting out of his “infamous”(?) £250,000 Rolls Royce.Not only did Depay have the temerity to go to the shops, the Daily Mirror reported he did so “just hours after being slammed by Ruud Gullit”.JUST HOURS AFTER. Won’t somebody please think of the children? Why was Depay driving a fancy car? We cannot know for sure, but it might have been because it’s his, and he could afford to pay for it because he’s a Manchester United player.But apparently photographs of a soberly-dressed footballer getting calmly out of his vehicle are evidence of a lifestyle described by the Mirror as “extravagant” and “glitzy”.Rather than – to quote the Mirror again – “parading his black Rolls Royce Phantom around Manchester” should he not have been sitting on the floor at home, wearing nought but a sack, staring at the bare walls and pondering Gullit’s words?

” He needs to deliver. He has a lot of qualities, but to fulfil his potential he has to stay low-key in his personal life. If you don’t perform, you must not turn up in a brand new Rolls Royce and a new Hummer at the training ground.”

If Depay is indeed bringing a Rolls Royce AND a Hummer to training on the same day, that does seem excessive. But, assuming he isn’t, he is merely a person using motorised transport to get to work.These stories stir up distasteful envy towards people with the good fortune to be simultaneous young, rich and good at football – but they also miss the point spectacularly.

Having money doesn’t ensure that you always play well, and spending it isn’t evidence that you’re off the rails.As anyone who saw Steven Fletcher’s Lamborghini Aventador last year would conclude, the correlation between wealth and on-pitch performance is shaky at best.Depay’s lifestyle does not seem particularly glitzy, but even if it were, it wouldn’t be the reason he is underperforming for Manchester United.


For all that he is portrayed as arrogant and headstrong, Depay is playing with a lack of confidence. Surely that uncertainty is what has curtailed his driving runs, and caused the mess of a back-header that led to a goal against Stoke.This is Depay’s problem: the fact that he needs to rediscover his form before United lose patience. Adnan Januzaj is coming back from loan; Sadio Mane is in the club’s sights. United are exploring alternatives – that’s what should trouble those people who claim to have Depay’s interests at heart, not his shopping trips.Depay has acknowledged his issues on the pitch, saying: “I know I can do a lot better. I just had to settle in and get used to the football, to my new life in England.”Sadly, that new life in England includes a torrent of absurd criticism every time grown men who are paid to hang around multi-storey car parks take a picture of him near something expensive.


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