It seems as Manchester United’s desperate search for centre-backs has seen them linked with every player to have ever taken to the backline of a Premier League side (although we’re still waiting on a Titus Bramble rumour). And the latest name out of the ‘Red Devils desperation defender generator’ (catchy, we know) is Ryan Shawcross of Stoke.
In truth, the Red Devils have been linked with the robust enforcer on a number of occasions over the years, with the now Potters ace having started his career at Old Trafford. Some fans have met the rumours with sneers, yet this potential deal could actually make some sense…. And here are FIVE reasons why…
Paddy McNair and Tyler Blackett starting games this season really does sum up the problems at United. A failure to replace either Rio Ferdinand or Nemanja Vidic (inexcusable given their knowledge of their contracts and plans) was inexcusable, and has been ruthlessly punished by injuries to the likes of Jonny Evans and Phil Jones already.
In truth, any centre-half with Premier League experience (well, almost any) would be a step up, and Shawcross certainly knows his stuff in the top tier. He would add physicality and know-how to United’s shaky rearguard.
Despite failing to make any sort of first-team impact at United, Shawcross did indeed start his senior career as a Red Devil. The defender graduated from the club’s academy before leaving in search of regular action, which eventually led him to Stoke.
In the modern game knowledge of a team’s workings is not really regarded as key, yet Shawcross’ know-how behind the scenes and familiarity with ‘the United way’ could be vital with the club searching for its identity after the turbulent last two years.
With quotas of English players and those trained at the club now genuine issues for the top Premier League sides, the addition of Shawcross makes real sense. The rugged defender qualifies for both criteria, which would free up space for United to add yet another high-profile foreign import without worry of matching regulations.
United have plenty of young players knocking around, but an experienced pro top fit in and boost their quota would be a major positive.
As Stoke’s captain (a title he’s held for a while) the 27-year-old’s ability to command his team-mates’ respect is not in question. Shawcross has been the Potters’ leader for their Premier League tenure, with his fierce competitive nature and desire to get results having been infectious at the Britannia Stadium.
He would by no means take the armband from Wayne Rooney, but his presence at the back may provide a hint or organisation.
At 27, Shawcross is just entering what should be the best years of his career. Centre-backs are typically able to perform at their best until around the age of 33/34, meaning that with his experience (over 200 outings for Stoke) the fierce enforcer has plenty of miles left on the clock and knowledge of top level action at his disposal.