Radamel Falcao, Angel Di Maria, Ander Herrera, Daley Blind. These are just some of the big names that have joined the Louis van Gaal bandwagon at Manchester United after a miserable 2013/2014 under the guidance of former Everton gaffer David Moyes. Looking at the players that the Dutchman has recruited, as well as the players already at the club, it’s safe to say that scoring goals won’t be a problem for the Old Trafford side.
However, on the basis of the start of the 2014/2015 campaign, a panic stricken backline has been the fundamental reason why the Red Devils have dropped vital points. After losing valuable experience in the shape of Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra to QPR, Inter Milan and Juventus respectively, the likes of Jonny Evans, Rafael and youngster Tyler Blackett have been exposed at the back on several occasions.
Although the club are in a transitional period, winning one game in six in all competitions, conceding 12 goals in the process is not the ‘Manchester United way’. With a mega spend on the frontline, splashing the cash on a world class defender should be the priority in order for the 20 times Premier League champions to at least bring Champions League football back to the red side of Manchester.
One notable centre half that would fit perfectly into the heart of the defence is Mats Hummels. The Borussia Dortmund centre back is your all round, complete defender. As well as revelling in the tackle and reading the game, the Germany international has the capability to compose players around him and play from the back. Strong in the air, and a decent target man from set pieces, the strong defender can also provide the occasional goal. In the 2012/2013 season, the Dortmund centre back made more tackles than any of his teammates and committed the second fewest fouls in the side. With reported interest already rife for Hummels, van Gaal should make the German signing on the dotted line at Old Trafford his main priority in January.
An alternative to Hummels, one of the best defenders in the world, is Atletico Madrid’s Brazilian defender Miranda. Probably a surprise to many not to be selected for Luis Felipe Scolari’s World Cup squad, the centre half had a magnificent 2013/2014 campaign, that included aiding Atletico Madrid win the La Liga title and reaching the Champions League final. Also being courted by Premier League rivals, the 30-year-old can bring vital experience to a youthful United defence that includes 18-year-old £27m left back Luke Shaw and youth prodigy Tyler Blackett. Despite not being the tallest centre half at 6”0, Miranda has an incredible leap, as well as good awareness and a quiet aggression.
United’s leaky backline is something that teams will look to exploit. However, despite the lack of experience, the potential is there for the likes of Shaw, Blackett and Rojo to establish themselves as players that can be relied upon. Nevertheless, with the undoubted quality of the forward line causing havoc in the Premier League, a world class and experienced centre half is desperately needed.