It is unnecessarily negative, in the eyes of many, to criticise Manchester United’s transfer activity this summer with a month still left in the window. And yet, and yet… There has been a great deal of concern about the squad’s alarming lack of depth in defensive midfield, to the extent that it has maybe obscured discussion of one key area.
A major problem for United, as Beyonce sang in “Irreplaceable”, is to be found “to the left, to the left.” Their left flank has been a problem for years. For reasons of form, injury, a lack of pace or all three, none of the full-backs they have played there have truly convinced. Let us consider the options:
– Ashley Young has been sometimes been useful as a makeshift solution, but he would probably be among the first to accept that he is merely filling in where others cannot.
– Luke Shaw has struggled with fitness, with confidence — something for which his last two managers, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, have perhaps been partly responsible — and with his recovery from his horrific leg-break against PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA Champions League.
– Marcos Rojo is left-footed, but there his suitability for this position largely ends — he does not relish life near the touchline, and is best on the left side of a back three or a central defensive partnership.
– Daley Blind lacks the acceleration that allows him to overlap on the break, and though he is a fine playmaker when he remains in a deeper role he can find…