This post contains affiliate links. “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”
Manchester United’s defensive concerns are no secret.
Despite the club’s recent advances, United’s bottom line is, and will continue to be, an Achilles heel in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team until addressed. Bringing a center of the best quality soon is absolutely necessary, but the question when they will take care of what is left.
Most fans believe they will have to do it in January if they want to mount some kind of challenge for Liverpool’s Premier League crown this season, but a summer purchase seems like the most realistic option.
But getting the best out of what they have is also up for debate. Solskjaer deployed 11 different sets of central defenders during 2020 (including all three at the back) and fans still disagree on how the Norwegian should best prepare his rear.
So what is the best combination for United? And should the club bring reinforcements, what pair do you build to prop up the defense?
Jones and Maguire were Ole’s favorite center-back pair against Burnley in a 2-0 loss in January.
The fact that the two have never been cast as a duo since then says it all. Despite their physical nature, the two were defeated by Burnley on the night. They both look like a mess waiting to happen.
Phil Jones is the common denominator of United’s worst center-back pairs. Despite Sir Alex Ferguson suggesting that Jones could be one of the all-time greats to wear the jersey, injuries have led to a stalemate.
When the two have played together, there is serenity in their game. On defense though, you wouldn’t back them up against the best attackers you find at the top tier.
Jones is very much on the outside looking at Old Trafford so hopefully United will cut their losses and move him around in the near future.
Maguire and Tuanzebe are a couple who on paper show great promise, although it is a combination that is rarely used.
The latter’s injury problems have made it almost impossible for the 23-year-old to truly establish himself in the first team. However, as his strengths lie in his intelligence, pace and physical presence, it won’t be long until he finds himself playing regularly in United’s central half.
As a couple, the two have a lot to learn, as seen in United’s embarrassing defeat in Istanbul, where Tuanzebe was dragged at half-time. However, there is no doubt that if this pair can be allowed a series of games, they will become a strong duo.
Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly are a center-back couple who tried, tried and failed during José Mourinho’s tenure. His unconvincing performances were the reason United had to look elsewhere and sign Harry Maguire for £ 80 million, which only indicates the desperation of the club at the time.
More recently, however, the two appeared together twice in a flat-back four. In both cup matches, the pair kept a clean sheet and United achieved 3-0 away victories against Derby County and Brighton respectively.
Both deserve great applause, because a week before the League Cup win against Seagulls United they had achieved a 3-2 league win, where Brighton was unlucky enough to leave empty handed after losing. a lot of opportunities.
The two were dominant when they were together and complemented each other well, suggesting that they have both matured since Mourinho’s days. The fact that they rarely pair up, with Harry Maguire always present in the league, is the reason they are not ranked higher.
Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire is United’s most common association as a central defender. Whether it’s because of injury issues with other defenders or just high confidence in the two, Solskjaer is more likely to pick them than any other combination.
Both players were among the top four players in Europe by minutes played in 2020, with the United captain topping the list and Lindelof in fourth. That statistic alone shows how important they are to the club and the country.
Individually, there are a few traits that mean they are extremely important to United, namely the game reading and Lindelof’s composure along with Maguire’s aerial ability. The two also have excellent passing range.
However, as a partnership, the two are far too inconsistent and that inconsistency and vulnerability sets the stage for an unstable team, meaning that advancing the two may not be the best combination of central defense as United’s ambitions grow.
For Solskjaer, Bailly and Maguire it is a partnership that has now emerged as perhaps United’s most effective. At the beginning of the year, the duo could be seen playing in cup games against teams like Club Brugge and Norwich.
In recent weeks, Bailly has come in at center-back and has proven to be the missing link United needed to shore up the defense. Unlike Lindelof and Maguire, Bailly best complements United’s patron with his speed of recovery. Bailly’s pace allows United to play more freely up front, without fear of the ball overhead.
Against Everton, Leicester and Wolves in recent weeks we have seen that United can focus on creating goals rather than preventing them. The two seem to have a greater understanding, which is why they are United’s standout couple.
In saying this, however, they are still the combination that let in six against the Spurs at the start of the season, suggesting that the pair is in no way a partnership between Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, which begs the question. : United will rest on its laurels. Or use your recent form as an opportunity to build on your defense? We will get a reply soon enough when the transfer window opens.