Tue. Mar 2nd, 2021

Man Utd


Manchester United have a new summer transfer priority

4 min read

It was Sir Alex Ferguson who famously claimed “attack wins you games, defence wins you titles”.

Eight years on from Manchester United’s most recent title triumph and it looks like his old prophecy is once again proving itself to be true.

While Man City have established themselves as an unlikely defensive juggernaut under Pep Guardiola it is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side who continue to act like a charity, gifting goals to even the most hapless of opponents.

The weekend draw with Everton was the culmination of a reoccurring defensive spiral, one which even saw ten-men Southampton carve them open freely at times last week, although one glance at the scoreline more than papered over those cracks.

Supporters will be unanimous in their calls for a new centre-back signing this summer, but now there is also argument to suggest United need a new central defensive midfielder who can protect the back-four.

Not only would the addition of a new specialist defensive midfielder offer greater protection to the defence, but their arrival could give the backline the required confidence and security to persist with their approach of playing out from the back.

Paul Pogba’s early departure at the weekend severely affected United’s grip on the match and further emphasised the lacklustre defensive protection which comes as a result of Fred and Scott McTominay’s partnership.

While the dynamic duo certainly offer plenty of mobility and grit in the centre of the park, it is no surprise United’s defensive solidity has become weaker since Pogba and Nemanja Matic have stopped playing as a pair regularly this season.

With uncertainty over the Frenchman’s long-term future and the continued demise of Matic it is clear United need to try and revolutionise their defensive midfield options, with another addition at the end of the season certainly a possibility.

The signing of Donny van de Beek last summer has effectively future proofed United against the loss of Pogba, meaning that any new arrival should be a defensive specialist rather than a straight replacement for the World Cup winner.

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Manchester United smashed nine goals past Southampton on Tuesday night as they bounced back from disappointing results against Sheffield United and Arsenal in emphatic fashion.

The game was effectively over as a contest inside the first two minutes as Southampton were reduced to 10 men, but United still had to find the goals and they did exactly that, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial (two), Scott McTominay, Bruno Fernandes and Daniel James all getting on the scoresheet.

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While the weekend draw with Everton could have been avoided with the aide of a proven defensive midfield anchor, their potential arrival could also revolutionise the entire approach of the United side under Solskjaer.

Having someone in a similar mould to Matic, but with mobility, would open up the possibility of a more standard 4-3-3 formation, utilising Bruno Fernandes in the attacking role with either Fred, McTominay or Van de Beek completing the trio depending on the opposition.

Doing so could also help United effectively in big games, not only being able to subdue the threat of other elite teams with greater defensive quality, but by also being able to go toe-to-toe with them as well.

It all begs the question of who? Wilfred Ndidi is proven in the Premier League but would cost a big fee given Leicester have no need to sell him, Denis Zakaria is steadily improving with his performances for Borussia Mönchengladbach and Eduardo Camavinga is an excellent talent for Rennes despite his tender age at just 18.

They’d all be welcomed to Old Trafford this summer – but the hopes of recruiting them will rely on addressing their main priority first.

Anyone who watched the second-half on Saturday night will be unanimous in agreeing a new centre-back is the necessity for Solskjaer again this summer, but after that a defensive maestro should still be considered.

It might not be the most glaring absence from the United squad at the moment, however it could be the masterstroke which truly manages to complete the team and marry their exciting attack with the defensive resilience required to win titles.

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