Since Louis Van Gaal took over the reins at Manchester United, the Red Devils have endured a difficult start under the guidance of the Dutchman.
After David Moyes’ miserable stint in the Old Trafford hot seat, experienced gaffer Van Gaal immediately implemented his vision and philosophy into the club in order to bring back the trophy-hauling success we’ve all be so used to seeing in the red side of Manchester.
Over the years, the former Barcelona and Ajax coach has insisted on playing three centre backs and wing backs in his defensive strategy, while he also puts faith into academy players who he feels are deemed good enough for the first team. With just two wins in six games leagues and a 4-0 humiliation at the hands of League One promotion chasers MK Dons in the Capital One Cup second round, things haven’t gone to plan for Van Gaal and his merry men, especially on the defensive side.
The latest disappointment was conceding five in a 5-3 defeat away at newly promoted Leicester City, where at times the Red Devil’s defence was non-existent. Under Sir Alex Ferguson, this never would have happened. However, Van Gaal, has included one teenage prodigy in his plans despite the mass player expenditure at Manchester United.
Twenty-year-old defender Tyler Blackett had played in every game under Van Gaal before his red card against Leicester City, and is on the verge of being fast tracked into the England set up by Roy Hodgson for the Euro 2016 qualifiers against San Marino and Slovenia. The hard working left footed defender often works on his game at the United’s finely equipped training ground on his days off, and his attitude and professionalism is probably at the same level as an experienced Premier League footballer.
Blackett started as winger, but the eagle eyed Manchester United coaches saw that a place at the heart of the defence is where he can prove himself and carve out a long and successful career. Not only is he a determined youngster who isn’t afraid of getting stuck into challenges, but his composure on the ball is fantastic. In the five games he has played in this season, Blackett has succeeded in 80% of his tackles and has an 88% pass completion rate. Completing 345 passes so far, Blackett showed he has excellent distribution skills in the 4-0 drubbing of QPR with 97.9% of his passes finding his teammates, more than any other player on the pitch.
Having had loan spells in the Championship with Blackpool and Birmingham City in the last campaign, Blackett is going to continuously improve. The main reason for this is what he does off the pitch. His work rate on and off the pitch is truly commendable, as nowadays, you won’t see young players doing extra gym sessions on their days off.
It will be hard to replace the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, and with United due to spend even more money on players in January, cementing his starting position will be difficult. However, Blackett has the attributes and attitude to become a top centre half for both club and country.