It’s time for Manchester United to breathe. Jose Mourinho has all his main targets signed and sealed by executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, and the latest arrival is the £89million world record breaking transfer which witnessed the return of Paul Pogba to the Theater of Dreams.
By completing the signings of Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba, the Portuguese manager has his Manchester United squad ready the long season ahead of domestic and European cup clashes.
But with the arrival of the French midfielder, one of the hottest topics in Mourinho’s squad is the shape of his midfield and who is the best player to play alongside the former Juventus man. The options are: Michael Carrick, Morgan Schneiderlin, Marouane Fellaini, Ander Herrera and two players who had been used in the back-four line under ex-manager Louis van Gaal, Daley Blind and Timothy Fosu-Mensah.
Blind would allow Pogba to push forward
Daley Blind is naturally a defensive midfielder who had excelled as a center/left back under the Dutch manager and both the player’s statistics/abilities prove that he can sit in front of the back four, giving the team the defensive and attacking balance, yet providing Paul Pogba with the freedom to advance in the opponents’ final third and flourish as a box-to-box midfielder.
Both players had played 35 league games in the 2015/16 season and the former Ajax player averaged 1.91 won tackles per game. Pogba averaged 1.57. Blind was also able to set an average of 44.94 forward passes per game, comparing to the 28.37 passes made by the French midfielder. Also, one of the Dutch’s key abilities is his passing length where he averaged an impressive 21.83 meters per game. Pogba averaged 17.46 meters in the same department.
The two players were very close in their pass completion rates, as Blind completed an impressive 84% of his passes throughout the Premier League season, comparing to the 83% completed by the former Juventus man in the Serie A.
Bailly, Smalling and Shaw push Blind out of defence
The arrival of Eric Bailly from Spanish side Villarreal and his impressive performances in preseason and the FA Community Shield are good signs for Jose Mourinho to partner the Ivorian with last season’s in-form man Chris Smalling.
Having played as a center back last term, the Dutch international provided some good stats which could be convincing enough for Jose Mourinho to play him as a holding midfielder. Blind was able to average 2.29 interceptions and 3.63 clearances per game, comparing to the 1.34 and 0.77 averaged by Pogba, respectively.
However, there is a very important point which is worth to mention. Daley Blind received quite a criticism by Manchester United fans around the world, blaming him for some of the shaky defensive performances last season. But the truth is that the former Ajax man had been providing Chris Smalling with the platform to perform at the highest level and United fans should accept the fact that Daley is naturally a midfielder.
The Dutch man made four defensive errors last season and he has to know that such mistakes could see him benched or even put an end to his Old Trafford career under a manager such as Jose Mourinho.
Note: Statistical data sourced from squawka.com.