Are Manchester United really in need of a centre-back?

Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic were the best partnership in the Premier League, possibly even the best defence partnership in Manchester United history. One was a ball-playing defender with a strong personality, the other a brave Serbian who won any header that came his way. Together, the two were gold, both were leaders and both helped build the success in the Sir Alex Ferguson era.

In the end, a sad departure meant that these legends parted ways, Rio joining struggling Queens Park Rangers, Vidic picking Inter Milan.

In the summer, United were heavily criticised for our dearth of central defenders, we were apparently ‘top heavy’ which means there is an unfair balance between attackers and defenders. The critics wanted a defender? OK, Marcos Rojo was signed, good enough? Obviously not, as critics kept publishing article after article and on social media, tweet after tweet.

This minute we stand in, do you hear doubters mocking our defence? No, and the reason is because we have the third best defensive record in the league with 31 goals conceded against us. Not good enough? We have a better defence than Manchester City this season, after they hilariously signed Mangala for £30-odd million, making him the most expensive defender in the Premier League and the second most expensive French player in history! And just to wrap it up, two youngsters by the names of Paddy McNair and Tyler Blackett are playing games occasionally and in keeping big players like Romelu Lukaku and Didier Drogba absent throughout a game, they have proven to be two exciting players for the future.

Recently we have been linked with Mats Hummels, a German defender who has shown to be one of the best defenders in world football, and certainly showed this in the footballs biggest competition, the World Cup.

However, recent Squawka stats show that Mats Hummels has made 1 defensive error, he has won 61% of duels and an average of 7 defensive actions with 87 clearances and 45 interceptions and 11 blocks.

However, Phil Jones has made 0 defensive errors with 144 clearances, 68 interceptions and 6 blocks, he has won 56% of duels.

Marcos Rojo has made 4 defensive errors (let him mature, he is new to England!), 134 clearances, 50 interceptions and 7 blocks, he has won 48% of duels.

Lastly, Chris Smalling has made just 1 defensive error, 13 blocks, 131 clearances and 40 interceptions, he has won 57% of duels.

After viewing the stats, do we need to part with £40 million for a defender? Hummels is a fantastic player, and if you have the money anyone would certainly pick him up. But just bear in mind that our defenders have not been far off – and in some cases better than – Hummels. They are all younger, and two of the three are English players which matches the traditional Manchester United philosophy. With two young defenders coming up, do we need to look elsewhere?

If they stay first eleven players next season we could potentially have an all English back-line. That is, of course, if we secure the signature of Nathaniel Clyne.

We should be immensely proud of our defensive players this season. With the help of David de Gea, we could even push to hold the Premier League’s best defensive record. Why not?

About Ted Hennessey 18 Articles
Ted Hennessey has been a Manchester United fan for has long has he can remember, he loves United because of how they won the treble and how they have the best fan-base in the world, his favourite player ever is Paul Scholes.

13 Comments

  1. typical for english people living of an island and afraid of anything “foreign” to put forward the thesis that by some reason the back four could be english???? Should it really be that if United as a club want to compete with the likes of Barca, Real madrid and Bayern ?? You really have to give up this childish nationalism thoughts since there is never ever again going to be enough of good english players to fill a team on that level!!! there is 1-2 players of English origin at world class level(Sweden has also 1 in Ibra but that does not incline that Malmö could reach champions league wiht swedish players) When will you realise you are hardly any better footballing nation than Sweden (look only on the last 10 years results and you will understand)!! United really needs Mata, DiMaria, Herrera, Fellaini, Blind etc to be able to compete at even national level. Please mate grow up and realise that football is international nowadays. That is the reason for Mourinho,Wenger; LVG, and Pellegrini have the top 4 spots as managers- English players and managers just is not good enough!!!

    • Firstly, I didn’t rule international players out, I was giving two opinions, secondly Barcelona and Bayern Munich all have players from their own nation, thirdly what do you mean by grow up? We are a club built on British players, starting from Bobby Charlton, Bryan Robson, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and George Best. That is what the club means to me, not the big-money international signings. We need the international players, but the majority of the club should be English players. And if you are a United fan, talking about Manchester City managers in a good way is not loyal in my eyes.

  2. Did you miss the fact that both Jones and Smalling miss loads of games with injuries (and not just this season, but every season since they joined Utd). Both are made of glass, and cant be relied upon to be fit for big games – or even enough of a season to be consistant.

    2nd comparing stats is unfair between two teams in the same league using different tactics, methods of playing, managerial style etc etc, doing it vs two different leagues is completely meaningless, especially when you consider how dreadful Dortmund have been this season.

    Utd actually need TWO centre halfs to really challenge next season, and it were my money/ team I would be selling two out of the three from Evans, Jones and Smalling , they are just not good enough / fit enough to be relied upon (Im also not sure about Blackett, McNair is definitely WAY ahead of him in development and promise and should be 3rd /4th choice before or alongside Rojo given two purchases in this area of the team).

    • I definitely rate Smalling, and the point of the article is questioning whether we should sign a centreback, not ruling out completely!

    • well said, Smalling and Jones are good defenders if they stay fit for an entire season. However from the evidence of the past seasons, none of them can stay injury free for even four consecutive months. I think paddy should be given more playing time as he looks more comfertable than many of the defenders at united and is more reliable.

  3. You are right…..But remember that we are in need of Hummels because we are playing champions league next season,And you know that Jones,Smalling,Rojo are all injury-prone players…..You can see what happened against chelsea…..so,We need another centre defender to help when they are injured…..although,Hummels would get straight into the starting XI……….THINK

  4. Man u don’t need a centre back.Smaling and RoJo are fine. Mcnair and Jones are 2nd options.Blackette shuld be taken out on loan so that he gains some confidence. It is unfortunate this sean almost all man u players were affected by injuries.The big problem is with the striking force, which is attributed to the failure of RVP and falcao.these are the players who shuld leave like yesterday. please do everything to get Kane and all will be ok.

  5. Please everyone, I didn’t rule out international players I just questioned whether or not we should be looking to develop our current players, Hummels would be welcomed, that is evident in my article, I said that. And please, if you have an opinion, apply to write and publish your own articles, bear this in mind.

    • Good article. But I still think we need a new CB this summer, an experienced one. Hummels would be a great addition, but there are other choices too. Notably Otamendi. Considering the fact we’ll be playing champions league next season (hopefully) and facing other best teams in Europe. McNair is good, but is he experienced enough to face the Bayern front line? Our current CBs are good but a still developing. Having an experienced defender around to learn from wont be a bad idea.
      It should be noted though that it’s not a guarantee a new signing will settle in right away. I can think of so many defenders at other clubs in the premier league who didn’t and few who did.

  6. Even you said United’s greatest partnership was Rio and vidic. Left to me, I would buy hummels, sell two of the existing backline. evans and any other one. Jones, Chris and Evans putting the annoying injury proneness aside are just too unpredictable. I haven’t watched a Manchester United game where I am not panicking over one of them. The thought of building a backline on English players is pure nonsense. They are the most inconsistent breed of footballer ever. Any great partnership our great club has had always contain a foreign talent. Vidic stam berg have all been a mainstay in the defence in recent history. Blackett although still young hasn’t given me much hope that he can play for United. McNair is a different player altogether, get him playing alongside a hummels, ramos, terry etc for a season and watch him develop into a formidable player. He has abundance of talent and playing alongside injury and error prone jones, smalling and evans isn’t going to do him any good. Although given the contract smalling just signed, the only one I can see going is jonny. Sign hummels, he might even help them progress. As for your sqwuaka? stats, I chalk all that down to the organization ability of Carrick in front of them.

  7. Man U need to play more counter attack.Therefore they need a solid defence.Cant win anything with predictable tippytappy passing,only if you are Barca.Another problem is inflation in prices of players,especially when they know it,s United.Are there and will there be good enough English players for champions leage?Yes there will be,there are good players around but it,s all about brand names,sponsors and hype.Football is show BIZZ.

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