Recent comments from Gary Neville suggested that Manchester United midfielder Daley Blind was taking the easy option, too often playing square balls instead of more creative efforts.
The ex-England international was missing a key point of course – Blind’s job is to do exactly what he was being criticised for. So how does the Dutch international compare with one of the best defensive midfielders in the business – Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic.
As you can see from the statistics above, the Chelsea star has scored one more goal than his United counterpart while he has also provide one more assist and played two more key passes.
So far, so similar, but when it comes to their more typical roles the Chelsea player’s numbers differ more considerably from the United man’s.
Of course much of that is down to the fact that Matic has played far more football than Blind this season due to Chelsea’s participation in the Champions League. But there is no doubt his 99 duels compared with Blind’s 39 tells its own story. Even if you were to double the United star’s figures in that area to compensate for the additional minutes he would still be way behind Matic.
However that stat aside, there is not much between them, with Matic winning just two more interceptions than Blind despite playing nearly twice as many minutes. Their shooting accuracy is identical while the United player comes out on top in terms of passing accuracy.
In short, given his recent arrival at United and the fact that he has been tasked with protecting a porous and ever-changing back-line, Blind is holding his own when compared with one of the best in the business. So surely he deserves praise rather than unfair criticism.