Wednesday 30 March 2016

Blind's quietly excellent season for in-flux United

So many of United's recent purchases have put in sub-par performances but Daley Blind can very reasonably claim to have justified his price tag.

If anything, he probably does not get quite enough credit for what has been a solid, consistent and dependable second season at Old Trafford.

Consider the circumstances of his signing.

Blind was bought from Ajax, where he had been the captain of several title triumphs, a few days before the end of the transfer window.

Having enjoyed a fine World Cup for Louis van Gaal's Netherlands- whom finished third- it had been known for several weeks that he was available.

If someone had said back then that Blind would make a much better adjustment to the Premier League than Memphis, his far more heralded compatriot, many would have laughed.

It was said Blind was too slow for the league, he lacked the physical fortitude and the grit needed for the defensive toil.

Blind has frequently been likened to Phil Neville, another player whom was often asked to fill in across several positions, but he is a more versatile and more gifted player.
He starred for the Dutch in Brazil as a left wing-back but has more often than not been deployed by Van Gaal in the centre of defence or defensive midfield.

Blind's underrated playmaking abilities has been key to some of United's most impressive victory under Van Gaal, most recently in wins over Arsenal and last time out against Manchester City not to mention a string of strong showings during the purple patch of last spring.

Blind's unassuming style, both on and off the pitch, has not gone unnoticed but he is no stranger to significant burdens, being the son of a Dutch great (his father Danny is the current Netherlands coach).
Then there's the level of success at his former club, having captained Ajax to the last of four consecutive league titles just before his departure for United. 

His passing out from the back is as prompt, precise and ambitious as most centre-backs in the league, his positioning and use of space is excellent and quite often sets the tone for counter-attacking performances. 

His price tag, just under £14 million, made him a smart acquisition at the time and he has been far from one of the squad's weaker links.
Instead, he has provided the type of solid foundation for the midfield and attack that makes you think that- with slightly smarter investment- United could have mounted a sustained challenge instead of limping towards the summer with thoughts of further rebuilding.

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