During the match against Liverpool Lee Dixon said in his commentary on NBC Sports that: “Roy Keane says you don’t win anything without strong centre halves and Daley Blind isn’t a centre half”. Dixon who knows a thing or two about defending added “However Daley Blind is a very good footballer”. Couldn’t agree more. Blind was obviously United’s stand out player against Liverpool. Not only for the goal and the subsequent goal line clearance from Ings, but his overall play, particularly when confronted by Benteke.
Blind was targeted pre-match by a variety of pundits including Rio Ferdinand who didn’t hold back:
‘I don’t think Daley Blind will ever be able to deal with someone like Benteke if he’s on his game and he targets him,’ he said. ‘If I’m Benteke, all week I’m thinking is “wherever the ball is I’m going on Daley Blind”. That’s the only place I would be playing.
‘I wouldn’t even look at Chris Smalling or think about coming into contact with him. He’s a top striker and they played 30-odd million for him, if he even starts having any types of battles with Smalling I’d call him to the side as the manager and tell him to get on Blind as he is the weak point.”
Sour grapes? Two ex United greats piling on? Or will they be proven right? Aguero and Costa are on the way, so are the Crystal Palace trio Sako, Boyate and Zaha, and we’ve already seen Swansea’s Gomis trouble United’s back four. But for a “makeshift” centre half I think Blind is doing a terrific job. As Lee Dixon underlines he’s a wonderful footballer. He’s not the quickest but neither was Arsenal’s 1971 double winning captain Frank McLintock, who was successfully converted from a ball playing wing half to back four anchor. Blind’s dad Danny was a converted left back who did the same job for Ajax and Holland, again pace wasn’t his strongest suit. These types of players are guardians blessed with great technique. They have an eye for a pass, are good on the ball, and are intelligent and aware. Chris Smalling has come on leaps and bounds this season. Two excellent full backs in Darmian and Shaw have helped, but don’t underestimate Blind’s contribution. Smalling is free to go and attack the ball knowing Blind has his back. Add in the protection from Schweinsteiger, Carrick or Schneiderlin and De Gea back in the fold and defensively there’s not a lot to gripe about.
There was a Blind debate yesterday in the Red Cafe forum. where the majority of opinion is that he may prove Keane and Ferdinand wrong. My take is he’s the glue that makes that back four work.