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?