Manchester United’s injury list is becoming larger by the day. At one point, United had more players injured than the points they had gained. Adding to the woes, the announcement of Marcos Rojo absence due to injury on Friday would not have pleased United fans.
Rojo adds to the list of absentees from the back which already includes the likes of Jones, Evans and the suspended Smalling for his ‘Stupid’ red card which he received last week in the Manchester derby. Which means, United will now face Crystal Palace on Saturday without any recognised centre back.
After long term United Servants – Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic left the club in the summer, calls to fill the void was very clear from the fans. However, the club manager Louis Van Gaal assisted by Ed Woodward, executive vice chairman were not able to find a proper centre half after splashing the 150 million in the summer.
Van Gaal did manage to buy three left sided defenders in the summer, but two of them – Rojo and Luke Shaw are known to fill the left back place and the other recruit Daley Blind (who was part of Van Gaal’s Dutch revolution in the World Cup) has mainly been bought to fill the midfield hole in front of the defence.
So having spent over 150 million in the summer, not many were able to understand the reason for not buying a traditional out and out centre half. Despite knowing the fact that the back three of Evans, Jones and Smalling are susceptible to injuries, many are yet to understand the reason behind the team spending so much money on front line which already consisted decent attacking power force of Rooney, Van Persie, Mata and the like.
United are now facing the music for failing to strengthen the defence in the summer. No matter how brilliant Van Gaal is with his ideas, he may not be able to fully implement it, if the back four are going to keep on conceding silly goals.
So let us see the defenders available for the Dutch man against Crystal Palace on Saturday: Paddy McNair, Tyler Blackett and Tom Thorpe. With all due respect to the three United academy products, they are not established centre halves like Hummels or Benatia, who United failed to sign in the summer despite constant interest.
Between the three, they have featured only ten times (three of those are substitute appearances) for United this season in the league. Van Gaal in the preseason admitted that youngsters can be used only occasionally as it is difficult to expect a consistent run of performances from them. He was right to the point, as Tyler Blackett who had a good start to the back line at the beginning of the season had a poor outing against Leicester city and got himself sent off in the match. He has not started for United since.
But, Van Gaal is left with no alternative but to use the only players available to him. He may use Daley Blind in the centre with one of the academy products alongside him. Or, Michael Carrick may yet again be deployed in the back. It is unclear about United’s back line against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford. Nonetheless, one thing is very clear, no matter what team Van Gaal puts on, a win for United is an absolute necessity. With United sitting tenth in the table with only 13 points from 10 matches, the Reds from Manchester cannot afford to slip anymore.