Here at The Peoples Person we felt Daley Blind was going to be Manchester United’s most important signing and so far this season the Dutchman has shown precisely why.
A player whose focus is on ball retention, Blind has become the heartbeat of United’s midfield and the main cog which keeps the engine turning.
From his deep lying anchor role, Blind has been able to dictate the shape and tempo of United’s play. If he wants to speed it up, a big pass out to a full back is always on and if he wants to slow it down, a short pass to another midfielder or back towards goal is there for him.
A quick look at the statistics so far this season show that there are only four players who have a higher pass completion than Blind this season:
Mikel Arteta 94.5%
Mathieu Flamini 92.5%
Ki Sung-Yeung 91.1%
Daley Blind 89.5%
Blind isn’t Mr. Hollywood yet has been grabbing a lot of the headlines which is indicative of how well he has played.
Despite this, Paul Scholes and Gordon McQueen have criticised Blind for not playing enough attacking forward passes but in the current Louis van Gaal set-up that is simply not his job.
There’s no questioning whether Blind has the ability to thread an incisive pass. He showed it with a wonderful cross field ball to Robin van Persie at the World Cup for his special headed goal against Spain and having learnt his football at Ajax, passing football is second nature to Blind.
That being said, asking Blind to concentrate more on attacking passes is akin to telling Luke Shaw to prioritise forward runs instead of defending. Angel di Maria and whoever partners him in central midfield are tasked with the role of bringing the ball forward, not Blind. If the Dutchman were to start trying to attack more with his passes, he’d be inviting pressure on United when they went wrong.
Di Maria has been very important for United so far this season as well in attack but in search of the balance which Van Gaal craves, Blind is the centrifugal force keeping United spinning on an axis.
The return of Michael Carrick adds some much needed depth in that position and he may well step in to the anchor role at some points but so far, Blind has more than lived up to the £14m United paid for him and only looks to be getting better the more he plays.