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Di Maria needs to leave Man Utd to save himself

After his sending off against Arsenal, Paul Parker says Angel Di Maria needs to leave Manchester United if he is to return to the player he was before.

I don’t know how Angel Di Maria can recover from his ridiculous sending off against Arsenal on Monday night. Can things really get any worse for him at Manchester United?

He probably felt that when Michael Oliver brandished the yellow card for diving he was effectively calling him a cheat – and when someone calls you a cheat you want to punch them. That, wrapped up with all the focus on his poor form, is maybe what sparked his reaction.

I’ve never seen someone grab hold of a referee like that. I don’t know if it was borne of sheer embarrassment at what he had done, or whether it was sheer frustration which just summed up how it has been for him at Manchester United over the past six weeks.

He has had his house burgled, his form has dropped badly and for a player who hit the ground running when he arrived, it now feels like he has had his feet tied together by Van Gaal. A year ago he was coasting with Real Madrid and on the way to winning the Champions League; now he’s at a team who are playing like they are bottom of one of the worst leagues in the world.

United have been awful. And when you suffer the lows after such big highs, there are only a few people who can deal with it and Di Maria is definitely not one of them at this moment in time. To be honest, I don’t know if anyone can blame him.

The only way it is going to work out for Di Maria, he only way he is going to get back to being the player he was before, is to move on. The way things are going at Manchester United, he is not going to progress as a player because the team are playing horribly and you can’t see how that situation is going to change.

There are persistent rumours of a move to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer and I certainly don’t think it’s impossible. You can’t really afford to get a £60 million transfer wrong because you are not going to get a return on your investment, and if United sold him at the end of the season they’d lose £10m, minimum. If you look at the kind of teams who could spend £50m, they all, with the exception of Manchester City, are much more naturally suited to a player like Di Maria.

PSG would suit him nicely, as would going back to Real Madrid. In England, Arsenal are the best fit for the way they shift the ball around quickly in midfield, but even Chelsea would be a better home for him than United as they are a bit more expressive now, while United have gone from being one of the most flamboyant teams in the Premier League to being in the bottom half of the table for excitement.

United are too rigid and slow for a player of that quality to express himself properly. It’s easy to deal with him because of the tempo at which United play and teams are collectively keeping him quiet. So is it Di Maria’s fault for his poor form or the team’s? I’d say the latter. And it’s not just him. There are too many top-quality players who are not performing to the standard required.

Look at how Radamel Falcao has struggled. People cite his knee injury but a cruciate isn’t the career-ender it once was. He, again, is playing in a side which performs at a tempo which doesn’t suit him. He has struggled because the game is too slow and he is getting too many balls at his throat, with his back to play. He’s not getting the kinds of crosses he likes.

Look at Juan Mata. He is a Champions League winner and hasn’t been allowed to play. He can’t get in a side which has been struggling to create opportunities – which you find strange for a player who had so many assists at Chelsea and was loved by their supporters. He has gone backwards at United.

Look at Ander Herrera. When he played at Athletic Bilbao, he played at a quick tempo and his passing was so sharp in the final third. Yet he hasn’t been getting enough opportunities to play his natural game.

Look at Wayne Rooney. He is not a No. 10 or a midfielder and he needs to play up front. He is a goalscorer and when he plays in midfield he kills the speed of the game. It is something that has been talked about all season and now Rooney is playing up front, but the problem is he doesn’t have the midfield support as you can’t play Marouane Fellaini in there as he gives away too many fouls.

Look at Antonio Valencia. You can use him sparingly as a makeshift full-back but you can’t play him there regularly as he is not attuned to the position. Roy Keane said as much last night and he was completely right. Perhaps he can play as a wing-back, but primarily he is a player who likes to get into the final third and deliver crosses. He is not a defender.

Do you hold the team responsible, all these individuals who aren’t on top form? Or the man who is in charge? If you are winning games there is one person who you always praise, and if you are losing games there is always one man you criticise. And one man who possibly gets the sack. Van Gaal is responsible.

If you are in the circus and the clowns and the elephants are not performing, then you have to look at the ringmaster.