Three defenders out in summer shake up

Rio and VidicLeading up to the start of the English Premiere League season, no one was happier than I was knowing a team I have loved and followed – Manchester United – for a large portion of my life, had made great changes to ensure its fans that they would once again haul the much coveted Premier League trophy.

After losing it, devastatingly to rivals Manchester City on the last day to goal differential, there was much work to be done by management to ensure the trophy was once against brought back to its rightful place.

With the addition of the much sought after summer transfer target Robin van Persie, whose decision to leave Arsenal for greater pastures, brought great joy to fans and team supporters worldwide – not to mention the acquisition of 2012 Asian Player of the year, Shinji Kagawa, the creative attacking midfielder who led Borussia Dortmund to a second straight German league title.

Many were sceptical, those being rival fans, of van Persie’s switch to United, stating that he could not replicate his stellar 2011-2012 performance where he netted 38 goals in all competitions (including 2 goals for the Netherlands), but after 15 games (at the time of writing) he’s netted 13 goals for United – eat your hearts out doubters. Let me get back on track because United’s attacking is not the problem.

The lack of defence has been United Achilles heel thus far in the season. What was supposed to be a joyous start to the season, with the return of Captain Nemanja Vidic from an injury which had him sit out for a large portion of the 2011-2012 campaign was short lived. From the first game against a strong Everton side (United lost 1-0), the back four, particularly the two centre back spots, have been abysmal. There is no cohesion, no tactical awareness, and that has been the problem.

In the 15 Premier League games played in the early stages of the season, United conceded the first goal in 10 matches – that was surely unacceptable and an unsustainable trend.

• Everton 1-0 United – 57th minute goal by Morouane Fellaini
• Fulham 2-3 United – 6th minute goal by Damien Duff
• South Hampton 2-3 United – 16th minute goal by Rickie Lambert
• Liverpool 1-2 United – 46th minute goal by Steven Gerrard
• Tottenham 3-2 United – 2nd minute goal by Jan Vertonghen
• Stoke City 2-4 United – 11th minute own goal by Wayne Rooney
• Aston Villa 2-3 United – 45th minute goal by Andreas Weimann
• Norwich City 1-0 United – 60th minute goal by Anthony Pilkington
• QPR 1-3 United – 52nd goal by Jamie Mackie
• Reading 3-4 United – 8th minute goal by Hal Robson-Kanu

Apart from the three losses, United has made extraordinary comebacks to win each of the matches listed above after trailing. For a fan, that’s good news, but for the avid soccer enthusiast that screams ‘poor performance’, especially from a team of Manchester United’s calibre.

Something needs to be done, and fast. If Sir Alex Ferguson wants to stay in contention with the likes of the new looking Chelsea team, and the superstar line up of rivals Manchester City, the defensive core must be changed to match up with the quality of the opponents attackers.

In my opinion, though it means nothing, Ferdinand needs to go, his best days are behind him and he can’t keep up with the speed and skills of these new, younger players. The loss to Chelsea in the FA Cup replay, it was hard watching Rio being out ran and outpaced by Eden Hazard.

EvansEvans also needs to go. Though he has been a consistent defender, he lacksa crucial skill which would make him a world class defender; that being the skill of awareness. There has been times were Evans was slow to react, which turned costly. For example, the game against Liverpool where Steven Gerrard was allowed an ample amount of time to chest the ball down and have a go at it to open up the scoring. Evans is a good defender, just not one to hold a XI position.

Vidic, though I love him, needs to go; after re-aggravating the same injury he sustained last year, it will be a journey to get back to his once glorious form.

Though the defence has been stellar following the games listed above, I still believe United can cash in on these players along with out-of-favour winger Nani using the funds gained to strengthen the defence.

List of defenders to follow:

o Mat Hummels – Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
o Angelo Ogbonna – Torino (Italy)
o Dede – Vasco Da Gama (Brazil)
o Diego Lugano – PSG (France)
o Jores Okore – Nordsjaelland (Denmark)
o Andrea Ranocchia – Inter Milan (Italy)
o Vegard Forren – Molde FK (Norway)

Hummels, though the priciest of the bunch, he is a solid defender. Having help Borussia Dortmund to two straight Bundesliga titles, he has solidified his spot as one of the best defenders in Europe. Barcelona has made their interest in Hummels known, as they are looking for a long term replacement for Carlos Puyol. If we are to go after Hummels, it would be a fight at a pricey cost.

Ogbonna is establishing himself as a top defender in Italy`s Serie A, and with a transfer rate between ten to 20 million, he would be a great pick up. Juventus has emerged as a contender to land Ogbonna.

Dede has been on the radar of United for years now. The Brazilian international, strong, quick and agile will bring the athleticism that United lacks with their current backs; and with a transfer value of under ten million, United cant go wrong. His current club has said they expect Dede to leave this summer. Due to the financial problem they are experiencing they are welcoming any bid for their standout centre-back. Liverpool and Arsenal are amongst Premiere League clubs looking to snap him up.

Attacking is not our issue. As you can see, we lead the league in goals scored with 70 while conceding 31. One might think that is nothing to worry about, but for a team of the Red Devils calibre, that’s quite a bit too much.

Frank Boateng



  1. The problem we face isn’t really defenders. We have 3 great CBs in Rio, Vidic and Smalling, Rafael has made that RB spot his own and Jones can certainly excel there (NOT in midfield or as a striker, Fergie), Evra has woken up after the signing of Buttner (and scored more goals than Welbeck).

    We kept conceding because teams would attack us through the middle, and with Carrick or no-one left to shield the back four our CBs constantly had to deal with one-on-ones which created panic and mistakes as it would in any defence being struck right at its heart constantly.

    We need to sign 2 world class midfielders. A mobile, box-to-box midfielder and a specialist attacking midfielder in the mould of Silva and Mata. If Rooney is not considered a good enough striker, which is bizarre as that’s how he made his name in the first place and scored 34 goals in 2 separate seasons, then he should be sold to the highest bidder because frankly we should be able to do better than him in attacking midfield. I’d go for Gundogan and Isco as realistic targets.

    Anderson should be sold immediately. Scholes and Fletcher should be moved on. Welbeck and Valencia while they still have some value should also be sold. Welbeck is an English player and relatively young so that should grab us a transfer fee premium and Valencia only had one bad season but he’s been found out. I’d give Cleverley one more year, and if he performs like he has done this season then sell him too. Make a probing bid for Bale at £35 million and if an unrealistic figure is given then make a move for James Rodriguez as a left footed winger. Our winger roster should be Nani, Young, Giggs has been given an extension (DON’T play him in midfield) and Bale/Rodriguez.

    I make that 2 midfielders and 1 winger. Entirely realistic.

      • @Jeet: I really hope Nick Powell has a good season next season.

        Here’s a line up I would love to see next season:

        Lead Striker: Robin van Persie

        In support behind him (no.10); Shinji Kagawa

        Left wing: Jay Rod

        Central mid: Nick Powell

        Central mid: Michael Carrick (or our new box-to-box signing)

        Right wing: An in form Nani (Or Zaha)

        Left Back: Leighton Baines

        Centre Back: Chris Smalling

        Centre Back: Phil Jones

        Right Back : Rafael

        Rooney (if he’s not sold), Chicha, Young, Ferdinand, Vidic and Evra can come off the bench.

    • @Moscow: I hear on the box to box player.
      Isn’t Kagawa supposed to be our new attacking midfielder?

      That seems to me to be his most natural role.

      Fletcher is being reserved for a defensive midfield spot in front of the back four.

      I would also sell Welbeck and Valencia. But Ferguson won’t do that. Those are two of his most hardworking soldiers and Ferguson is a sucker for hard workers. Forget the fact that they have no talent, they can work hard so I need em says Ferguson.

      I’m with you 100% on the Bale or Jay Rod bid.

      I would even settle for one solid midfield box-to-box world class talent. And one solid left footed left wing talent. Then we’re good to go.

    • @Moscow: How is this for a dream winger line up that is also realistically achievable:

      Left wings: Giggs, Nani, Jay Rod

      Right wings: Young, Nani, Zaha

    • @Moscow: EXACTLY. I would’ve thought the runner of a blog like this would’ve caught on to something so simple, rather than overhauling an entire defence!! FFS

  2. What on earth have you been smoking?

    Vidic is our best defender, hands down.
    Ferdinand’s had a great season.
    Evans is superb but struggled with fitness at times this season.

    Evans/Smalling/Jones are more than capable centre backs. But I’d argue we need to sign at least one reliable world class/soon to be world class defender given how the trio mentioned all struggles with fitness at times (particularly Jones).

    Midfield is where strengthening is needed, as has been the case for the last 6 years.

    • @Martin S.:

      Don’t get me wrong, I love Vidic, hes been one of my favorite United players. I feel because of his injury and him re-aggravating it, he wont be that wall he was prior to the injury last season.

      Ferdinand is having a great season, but he has been exposed at times by a much younger and faster player.

      Evan is also having a good year. I am just not sold on him being a XI player due to his lack of awareness. He has cost us goals this year, as well as last.

      If all three struggle with fitness then thats a big problem, especially for a club of Uniteds caliber.

      DEDE or Ogbonna will be key replacements for any of these players.

      And I agree with you on mid field being a concern, and I am sure if we get Strootman and/or Wanyama that will be fixed. We need strength in that position and one of these two players will bring that.

      Just keep in mind, this is an OPINION piece, as I am entitled to mine.

  3. No need for any defenders- plenty need for midfielders- no need for strikers.

    Lewandowski on the back burner, Falcao is the latest. Whats next, Cavani ? Jesus!!!!! do these tabloids ever stop!

    Lets not sell ourselves short, MESSI to united anyone? Scratch that Bale on the left, Messi on the right and Ronnie up top

  4. Yes the response last season to losing the title was excellent. Buying van Persie was a master stroke. And Shinji Kagawa is also a great addition to the squad.

    I just hope that winning the title this season does not lead the powers that be to complacency during this coming window. We need to strengthen and we need it badly.

    I’m looking forward to seeing Adnan Januzaj on the pre-season tour.

    Nick Powell should get more game time next season. Please Ferguson! He can’t be worse than 40year old Giggs.

    Our defending has certainly been a point of concern this season what with all the defensive injuries we started with. We hobbled along for most of the first half of the season.

    When Vidic finally came back online and started playing relatively regularly with Ferdinand you noticed a change in our stability at the back and we started winning a few more clean sheets.

    So quality defense is certainly something the we need to ensure we get on top of because we have had a tough time getting it right this season.

    But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to go out and buy new players. Our current stock is actually very competent.

    I will concede that Evans is a limited talent but he is a valient soldier. He has good ball skills as well. So maybe we could replace him with Hummels. Other than that.I would not change anything about our defensive line up. (Ok maybe add Leighton Baines as well. . .)

    Dede also sounds like he would make a great acquisition.

  5. Clearly the right option. We have two central defendera that are on their last legs, one (Jones) who is unproven and Evans who can be a calamity.
    New defenders, yes, and along with them can we have some real MF’ers and a couple of strikers that actually are worth their contract.

  6. We have the worst midfield in the league. Playing senior citizens Giggs and Scholes is a total disgrace to our great club. How did we get 12 points ahead with this mediocore team? We need to buy world class players to compete and advance in the Champions league. We need to sell these average quality players. Its time now to bring in a new manager because SAF has run out of ideas. There is no world class quality in our academy players so we need to spend money. Might as well close the academy down. Iam not impressed with the quality of our play this season and something needs to be done!

    • @Bit Defender: I think you’re over-reacting.

      Yes our midfield is not the best. And swapping out players like Fletcher, Anderson, Giggs and Scholes for quality midfielders would be a great relief for our club.

      But SAF is still one of the(if not the) best in the business. Swatting aside Manchester City is no mean feat, especially while at the helm of a team replete with “average quality players” and the “worst midfield in the league.”

      Our academy is ok. But can you tell me of any academies in the world that are just churning out world class players year in and year out?

      That said, I will agree with you that the quality of our play has been disappointing. I think we need a world class left-footed left winger and a world class central midfielder and we should do a lot better.

      I would love to sell Valencia and Young and get a quality right winger to compete with Zaha.

      And sell Welbeck and get Lewandowski.

    • @Bit Defender: I think its time to start transitioning to a more fluid style of play.

      We need more pass and move players to complement the skills of Kagawa and van Persie.

      Lately I have been very keen on watching Borussia Dortmund because of Jurgen Klopp. I would really like to see him managing United. He just might what we were looking for.

      For now I’m happy with Sir Alex though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *