Thursday 17 September 2015

LVG posed with defensive dilemma

Sorrow was etched on the United's players faces as they left the field in Eindhoven following an awful night on Tuesday.
Despondent in defeat and distraught at the horrific injury suffered by their team mate, not only is the full back's injury hugely damaging to the player himself, it's also a huge blow to Louis van Gaal's previously settled back four. 

When Shaw was stretchered off, Marcos Rojo came on for him and it was curious that Daley Blind, who has developed a promising grit-and-guile centre-back pairing with 'Mike' Smalling at centre back, was switched to the left.
There was no real need for Blind to move to left-back (with Rojo equally as capable there) and it was a switch that arguably changed the outcome of the game as PSV pounced on disappointing defensive errors. 

Blind was excellent at left-back in United's run of form at the back end of last season whilst Rojo, in his first competitive outing of the season, looked- perhaps understandably- rusty and a bit off the pace but, even so, it seemed odd at the time given that the Reds were well in control of the game at that point. 

Phil Jones also shone in that six match winning streak in the spring and was starting to build a promising partnership with Smalling but illness has struck again and he is still not fit enough to return.

What, then, does Van Gaal do now when it comes to that left-back position.
He will be reluctant to break up the impressive Blind-Smalling pairing, so playing Rojo at left-back seems a logical tactical change and one that would not cause too many headaches.
However, Van Gaal's switching of Blind to the left on Tuesday- with Rojo alongside Smalling- would suggest that the manager does not see the Argentine defender as a viable long term option. 

Matteo Darmian could switch to the left, where he is as equally as adept as on the right, which would mean that Antonio Valencia would reclaim the right-back position that he made his own last term. 

Personally, I would play Rojo at left full-back for the moment, and then when Phil Jones returns he should be the man to partner Smalling with Blind in Shaw's position, reverting back to three quarters of the defence that were so prominent in that aforementioned purple patch at the back end of last season.

Neither Darmian nor Blind are slouches when it come to getting forward, and that- combined with the grit and graft of the two tried and tested Englishmen Jones and Smalling provide United with the ideal balance at the back for the time being. 

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