It was no secret across the world of football that Manchester United struggled greatly in the back line last year. The only promising evidence we saw in defence last year was the home leg of the Bayern Munich Champions League tie. A lot of that was down to having a defensive set up for the game as opposed to the system usually deployed by United where they aim to be the ones on top. Of that back four, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Alex Buttner (who was standing in for Patrice Evra) are all now gone, along with Evra.
For that reason, there was a huge outcry for a defender to be brought in with that extra bit of experience compared to Jones, Smalling and Evans. Names were thrown around such as Mats Hummels, Mehdi Benatia and Thomas Vermaelen. The Vermaelen deal didn’t happen because Arsenal wanted it on their terms while Hummels and Benatia (now of Bayern Munich) wanted European football. Instead United have purchased three players whose natural side is the left of defence: Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind.
Because of United’s reluctance to strengthen the centre of the defence, I think we could be in for some nail-biting yet thrilling games this season in the Premier League.
Last year, the Premier League saw a Liverpool side who had unrivalled firepower due to a clinical front two, the hard-working and excellent Raheem Sterling and creativity from Philippe Coutinho. At the other end of the field, however, they had Martin Skrtel whose first action as a newborn baby was to try and drag the doctor’s shirt off him, an overrated and unfit Daniel Agger who was tipped for a move to Barcelona last year but has now returned to the Danish League with Brondby, Mahamadou Sakho who is there purely on strength, the naive Jon Flanagan and the unforgettable Glen Johnson.
Liverpool drew 2-2 with Swansea, Newcastle and Aston Villa last season. They drew 3-3 with Everton and Aston Villa. They beat Fulham, Man City and Norwich 3-2. They beat Swansea 4-3, Stoke 5-3 and Cardiff 6-3. They also put 5 past Norwich, Tottenham and Arsenal.
I expect the United team of this season to match the results that Liverpool were pulling off. The new signings of Radamel Falcao and Angel Di Maria thrown in with the already present Juan Mata, Adnan Januzaj, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie, will enable United to go for broke in games and expect goals. On too many occasions last season, United held possession without having a threat and that is what the new faces will bring this year.
Falcao’s record speaks for itself while Angel Di Maria possesses the kind of direct approach that is required to break defences regularly. These signings are exciting for United fans and even Premier League fans who can get a better look at them now.
This season, United will score goals. They will attack teams ruthlessly and the three centre forwards at Louis Van Gaal’s disposal are three of the best in the business so there is no excuse for dull 0-0 draws. Having such an inexperienced back line trying to adapt to a new formation and style means we could leak goals which has to be match up front.
Liverpool came from out of the blue last season to do it with a poor defence and aside from Suarez, their attacking contingent doesn’t match up to the powers of the United attack now.
Expect 4-3s, 3-2s, 5-3s, 4-2s etc as goals fly in at both ends. I wouldn’t recommend having too many Man Utd defenders in your fantasy football team but get as many of the front players in as possible because we are going to see goals and lots of them.