Structure is an interesting word, given United are about to embark on a new style of play under Erik ten Hag. Could you see James fitting into our team next season, or would a Premier League loan suit him better?
“The first thing to say is: Ten Hag would clearly be foolish, and United would be foolish, to let him go without having a look at him in pre-season. Clearly, the [transfer] window goes until the end of August, and the season starts earlier than usual this year. So there’s a long pre-season for them to have a look at it.
“There comes a huge amount of pressure with a new manager, and so you tend to make slightly more risk-averse decisions on team selection. He’s played a lot of football this season and it’s made him as a player. I don’t think it’s hugely helpful for him to be sitting here in a year’s time and he’s had 180-200 Premier League minutes in a season. He’s not 18 anymore. He’s of an age where he needs to be playing football every week. He’s 21, he’ll be 22 by the end of next season, so he needs to be playing.
“I’m probably incredibly biased when I say a Premier League loan would be brilliant for him next season. A year-long loan. Probably with no option to buy, because if he grows again he could be a player for United. With Forest getting promoted yesterday, under Cooper, they feel a really attractive choice for young players. For too long Forest was a club where we had Aaron Ramsey on loan, for example, and he barely played. It feels a club now where players go and think they’ll be looked at. And more importantly, the clubs they are leaving from are sure they’ll be looked after under Cooper. If he is to go anywhere on loan, it makes complete sense that it’s Forest.
“But I think it would be foolish if Ten Hag doesn’t at least have a look at him, if only because he [Ten Hag] is backing himself to be there in three years’ time. Therefore he might say to Garner: go away and have a season, enjoy yourself again, get better again, play football again, and let’s see where we are in a year’s time. Because you might well be a part of the future of this club.”