Sir Alex Ferguson quipped in his autobiography that his continuous, unprecedented success at Manchester United was backboned by always having two top-quality centre-backs at his disposal.
Over the years, there’s certainly been plenty worth a mention, including Jaap Stam, Ronnie Johnson, Steve Bruce, Garry Pallister, Laurent Blanc and of course, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
But with the Red Devils’ two relic centre-halves both set for bosman departures come the summer after incredibly lukewarm ultimate campaigns at Old Trafford, David Moyes won’t have that luxury next season.
Between now and the end of May, the Scot needs decide whether Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are capable of filling the void – otherwise, souring a world-class central defender is must in the coming transfer window.
Phil Jones in particular requires specific attention. The 22 year-old possesses enormous potential, but has made just 10 Premier League starts in the centre-back berth this season, compared to nine other positions.
If the England international is to spend his Old Trafford career defined as a central defender rather than a utility player, that transition must happen within the Red Devils’ final eight games of the current campaign.