Angel di Maria, Juan Mata and Ander Herrera may be hitting the headlines this morning following Manchester United’s demolition of Queens Park Rangers on Sunday, but there is one player that former Arsenal striker Alan Smith is quick to highlight as key for the team going forward this season.
Daley Blind was not a glamorous signing for the Red Devils. The 24-year-old’s arrival from Ajax for £14 million on transfer deadline day was eclipsed by the recruitment of Radamel Falcao on a season-long loan deal from AS Monaco, and then his debut on Sunday slipped under the radar for many.
But not for Smith, whose column in The Telegraph explains just how good the Netherlands international was in his defensive midfield role in United's 4-0 home win against QPR in the Premier League.
While praising Blind for sticking ‘rigidly to his job at the base of United’s midfield’, for reading the game well and for being ‘adept at offering the right angle to the man in possession’, Smith compared him to veteran United star Michael Carrick.
‘Like Carrick, Blind is a continuity player also responsible for sniffing out danger and blocking off avenues’, he wrote. ‘Not so much of a strong tackler, he goes about that defensive side leaning more on anticipation and interceptions’.
However, Smith also underlined a flaw in Blind’s game that he believes could expose him in matches against better teams.
‘In this regard, Blind’s lack of pace might be a problem against better opponents’, he added.
Blind’s lack of pace has been highlighted by many pundits and fans, but it is something that United manager Louis van Gaal is well aware of. After all, the Dutchman worked with his compatriot at the Netherlands national team and knows his game inside out.
Although it cannot be denied that Blind could get exposed against better teams with quicker players – for example, Chelsea – there is not a single footballer in the world who does not have a flaw in his game - except perhaps Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.