It all started with Luke Shaw’s injury in the UEFA Champions League group stage opener against PSV Eindhoven. An absolute shocker which made Louis van Gaal shuffle his defensive options by playing Daley Blind in different positions such as left and centre back. Continuous injuries of Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones made the problem even bigger for the Dutch manager, leading to a forced tactical change in his game. Adding more pain to the squad, fresh injuries of Ashley Young and Matteo Darmian, has caused the team’s back-four a serious trouble.
With all these problems mentioned, Manchester United has the second best defensive record in the Barclays Premier League, with 21 goals conceded (Tottenham Hotspur come at the first place with 19 goals conceded). A record for the whole team to be credited but the praise has mainly gone to Chris Smalling, who has been in outstanding form this season.
Whether a tactical system of 3-5-2, 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, the former-Ajax man, Daley Blind, was very well deployed and switched among these formations, and most importantly, he performed effectively. He is United's unsung hero as Smalling takes the plaudits.
Daley Blind has been in some tremendous form in the back. His versatility allows him to provide some excellent defensive duties on the left and the middle areas of the pitch. So far in the Barclays Premier League, he has averaged 3.81 clearances per game.
Whether deployed as a center back, left back or a central midfielder, Blind’s defensive capabilities - especially in clearing offensive attacks - have been so helpful in guaranteeing Louis van Gaal’s back-four shape.
Setting up those in the middle
Adding to his defensive duties, Blind has been acting as the “extra man” in midfield when Manchester United had ball possession. By completing 87% of his passes in the league so far, the Dutch international has been superb in building attacks from the back by aiding the likes of Morgan Schneiderlin and Marouane Fellaini.
Denis Irwin thinks Blind is this season's unsung hero
According to the Daily Star, former club legendary full-back, Denis Irwin has had his own words on the performances provided by the Dutch international.
Irwin thinks that both Blind and Smalling are having a great season as the "two centre-halves have been our best players this year".
The 368 times capped Old Trafford legend thinks that "Chris Smalling has been getting all the limelight" but he thinks that the "unsung hero so far this season is Daley Blind".