A Risk Worth Taking
After a tumultuous month of December many fans called for the sacking of Louis Van Gaal. Manchester United were on their longest winless streak (8 matches) since the early 1960’s. United went from first place (for a brief period after defeating Sunderland 3-0) in the table to a possible 10th place if they lose at Liverpool Sunday. The fall from glory can only be compared to a pilot struck by enemy fire who has hit the eject button but cannot seem to find the pull string for the parachute to save the ground from consuming what is left of the prestige and aura that surrounded Manchester United after the reign of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Many fans questioned the selection of Daley Blind in central defence to start the season for various reasons. Blind is not the strongest, fastest, or most physical defender in the world but he can do a job against teams with his keen sense of tactical awareness and a composure that most players couldn’t dream of. Now a half season into the Daley Blind experiment at central back you could argue he has been a success and an utter failure at the same time. Blind’s lack of physical nature and abilities have proven to be daunting for a defence that is already facing injury crisis with Marcos Rojo out, Phil Jones rarely fit for selection, and Luke Shaw gone for the entire season most likely. If we remember this central defence in the future it will merely be dubbed as the unit that replaced Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic (It could have been much worse had David De Gea transferred to Real Madrid).
With links to players around the world Manchester United is often used as a bargaining chip for players to increase wages at their current clubs (Sergio Ramos) or to sell papers for some journalists who claim to have the “inside source” to the next player United is signing. What is not a myth is that Manchester United could certainly use signings in a few positions to at least strengthen the current squad or risk missing out on yet another champions league campaign next season. Although it would be wonderful to sign the Neymar’s, Ronaldo’s, and Bale’s of the footballing world Ed Woodward and the board must do something, and fast, before the club misses out on yet another UCL campaign and the shot at drawing world class players gets even murkier.
Dragovic Or Blind?
The name of Aleksander Dragovic brings comfort to those who question Blind’s competence in the center of the United defence. It does not have the familiar ring of John Stones but Everton appear unlikely to sell Stones until summer, at the earliest. It goes without question that left back has been an issue also with the season long injury to Shaw and Rojo being ruled out for at least another month. The purchase of Dragovic could offer a stronger and more physical option to the central of defense and allow Blind to move into the left back position when needed.
Dragovic is a promising defender with superb marking and a good sense for intercepting errant passes. His height and physical nature could also allow David De Gea some peace of mind on set pieces and corner kicks where United have been abysmal all season. A partnership of Smalling and Dragovic could be very fruitful and although Dragovic is a bit of an unknown to most he is a risk that must be taken. United cannot afford to have a leaky defence in a time where goals come at snail’s pace under Louis Van Gaal. Dragovic also possesses the ball skills that Van Gaal desires from his central defenders with a decent touch on his passes also. Mainly, Dragovic can be the force in the back that has been missing since…. Rio and Nemanja. Now I am not saying Dragovic could be the next Vidic but he certainly has some of the traits that was found in the fearless Serbian most United fans adored and now seek in the current squad. Dragovic would be able to force teams who have been exposing Blind for his less than impressive physical stature and speed in the back to find different ways to attack this defence that so desperately needs an enforcer.
With a considerably small price tag compared to Stones this deal makes sense even if it is a short term solution to a problem that has been evident for awhile. Even with this purchase United would be able to pursue Stones in summer if that is what they desire. It is time to take action and make the purchase before it is too late.