There is no denying both on and off the field, Stuart Armstrong is a very talented young man. When he is not at his day job as a professional footballer, he is studying for a law degree, something to fall back on if for when he hangs up his boots.
On his day Armstrong is one of the best players at the club. He can do it all; he can play a beautiful, defence splitting pass, he can beat a man, he can track back, he can even put the ball in the back of the net.
Arguably his best performance in a United strip came towards the end of last season at home to Motherwell. United were victorious that day, winning 5-1, and Armstrong turned in a performance of the highest quality, playing a part in everything good that United done. He even scored a goal of the highest quality, picking up on a backheel from Ryan Dow, he drove from just inside the Motherwell half, outstriping Stephen McManus for pace before dispatching the ball into the top corner.
For those who have followed Armstrong’s career, from his early days coming through the system after joining from Inverness, such a quality display will have come as no surprise.
The problem with Stuart Armstrong however is not his ability, rather his inability to turn in performances such as that day on a regular basis.
Many will agree and many will disagree on this but as good as Armstrong can be, he can be terribly inconsistent. For every quality display, there will be for our five games where the game will come and go and pass him by completely, where he will struggle to impose himself on the game and where his passing will be erratic at best. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not for a lack of trying as I am in no doubt that he gives 100% for the club every time he take to the pitch but all too often, it just does not work for him.
You just have to look at this season. Whilst yes he has been injured and recovering when he has played, with the exception of the 30 minutes he played versus Dundee at Dens, he has been poor.
Armstrong has recently been linked with a January move to English Premier League side Hull City, where former team mate Andrew Robertson is currently plying his trade.
On the back of performances such as the Motherwell game, it is easy to see why a team of Hull’s stature would be interested, he would come at a relatively cheap price for a club whose income is hugely inflated by Sky TV money and he would be worth a gamble.
There is also no doubting on his day, he could have something to offer a team such as Hull.
It is easy to forget that he is only 22. It is also easy for fans to expect too much from young talented players, they need time to mature enough to be able to handle such expectancy being placed on them. Be that as it may Armstrong has played over 100 games for United, which is quite a bit of experience for a player his age. Surely with such experience should come the consistency needed to turn in performance week in week out.
For me it comes down to this; If there is any truth in the rumours that a move to the English Premier League is in the offing, despite his immense talent, without displaying it week in week out, would the EPL be a ‘Stretch’ too far for Stuart Armstrong?