This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Having arrived from Crystal Palace for a fee in the region of £50m, Aaron Wan-Bissaka has instantly settled into life at Manchester United. The full-back has won the hearts and minds of the Old Trafford faithful with his aggressive approach to defending, and he is quickly becoming a nightmare for opposition players to come up against.
Despite having missed two Premier League games, the 21-year-old has already registered 43 tackles in the top-flight – just four behind Leicester’s Ricardo Pereira in first place. That physical style can be an intimidating presence to come up against, and it was no surprise to see that on Wednesday night in the Carabao Cup against Chelsea, Christian Pulisic (hat-trick hero against Burnley) lost possession 14 times and completed just one of his five attempted dribbles.
Watch Manchester United Live Streams With StreamFootball.tv Below
But whilst he has built his growing reputation as a full-back for both Palace and United so far, could Wan-Bissaka be utilised in a much more different way?
In the big games, where the battle was often won by whether you could stop the opposition, and not just imposing your own style of play, Sir Alex Ferguson used to employ the specialist services of Ji-sung Park and Darren Fletcher to do a proverbial ‘job’. Whilst the duo were more than capable themselves on the ball, their industrious work off it, and attention to detail, made them the perfect candidates to combat whoever was the main threat.
Watch how to cross the road like a boss with freestyler Ben Nuttall in the video below…
In United’s famous 4-0 victory over Milan back in 2010, Park hustled and harried Andrea Pirlo like his life depended on it, leading to the Italian midfield maestro to just sit back in awe after the game.
“He (Sir Alex) unleashed Park to shadow me. He rushed about at the speed of an electron. He’d fling himself at me, his hands all over my back, trying to intimidate me. They’d programmed him to stop me.”
Wan-Bissaka appears to be in that similar mould of revelling in his task of preventing his wide-man from beating him one-and-one.
“I love tackles, man. I want to come out with the most tackles from each game; that’s my aim. Wingers hate it. When I was a winger, I hated being tackled! When I attempted to beat a player and he slide-tackled me, I’d just think: ‘I don’t want to go down there again,’ and change the route, change my play, you know?”
The 21-year-old’s mentality seems like the perfect fit for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to use him in the toughest games, where they may be a priority to stop a certain player. Against rivals Manchester City and Kevin De Bruyne, could he be the man to shadow the Belgian talisman over the course of the 90 minutes?
It’s certainly unorthodox considering Wan-Bissaka has only ever featured as a right-sided defender, but it’s also the kind of thinking that could serve United incredibly well, catching their opponents off guard while nullifying their biggest threat.