Former Newcastle and Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew has expressed concerns over Victor Lindelof’s performance against Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup.
The Swede became Jose Mourinho’s first signing in June, arriving from Benfica for a fee of £31m, but has struggled for assurance over pre-season.
He was once again a shaky presence against Madrid alongside Chris Smalling and failed to properly track Casemiro for Madrid’s opening goal.
And Pardew, speaking on Sky Sports, noted that the 23-year-old failed to convince anybody of his worth in Skopje.
“I thought United’s signings were particularly good with Romelu Lukaku at the top of the pitch, Nemanja Matic in that midfield role and Lindelof at the back,” he said.
“They needed a centre-back in particular but Lindelof’s performance against Real Madrid was concerning and there’s been a bit of concern over him in pre-season.
“They’ve had injuries in that area. Smalling never seems to play a full season and Jones is always injured so there’s going to be huge pressure on Lindelof.
“At the moment I think he’s finding it a struggle. Benfica and Portuguese league is not the challenge the Premier League is week in, week out. The intensity of set plays and the pressure put on central defenders is very, very difficult.
“I always remember Sir Alex Ferguson saying to me that at United, because you are Manchester United, your two centre-backs have to deal with two-on-two situations. You have to deal with one-on-one situations because you commit all your players forward to try and win the game with the opposition defending so deep. Lindelof’s one-on-one play worries me.”
“He didn’t put any personality on the pitch [against Real Madrid]. If you are a Manchester United player you’ve got to have personality, you’ve got to have that aura about you.
“Of course it’s only his third or fourth game and he might grow, but he’s going to have to grow quickly.
“And hopefully for Manchester United’s sake he does because he will start on Sunday. He’s going to have to step up to the plate quickly.”
Eric Bailly’s seamless transition into English football last year has spoiled United fans to a degree. The Ivorian’s brilliant start to life at Old Trafford was important and exactly what you’d want from a new signing, of course, but it should still be seen as an exception rather than the rule.
Lindelof is a talented player, positionally astute and excellent on the ball, but the step-up from Benfica to United is enormous. He is still young and getting to grips with Mourinho’s methods – and the furious nature of the Premier League – takes time, and supporters ought to keep that in mind.