For so long United have been crying out for a midfielder like Daley Blind. Yes we have Angel Di Maria but he is a different type of player and while he is a welcome addition, we have needed a quality defensive midfielder for sometime. We have over relied on Michael Carrick, asking him to carry the midfield alone when the likes of Anderson, Park and Fletcher have either not been up to it or stuck on the sidelines injured. Someone who gives valuable protection to the back four. Someone who breaks up opposition attacks, who does the dirty and unattractive side of the game. A couple of seasons ago, Man City had Nigel De Jong and they missed him the season after he left. He too would be an unsung hero, doing the things that are vital to the team, but could often be overlooked by everyone because a flair player would always grab the headlines.
Whilst it’s still early days, with Blind only playing a handful of games and not come up against some of the best midfields in the premier league, I’ve seen plenty to predict a good future for the 24 year old at Old Trafford.
Louis Van Gaal said when he signed Blind that he was the first player he wanted to sign, despite him not being the first of the summer signings to come. He said Blind buys into Van Gaal’s philosophy and knows his manager inside out with working under him in the Dutch national side.
Blind has settled into life in Manchester very well. I suspect only moving from Holland as opposed to the other side of the world helps and he says himself that his fellow countryman Robin Van Persie has helped massively.
What Blind gives United is work rate, he covers so much ground, chasing down the opposition, breaking up the play and winning the ball back. He stops teams building momentum. Apart from the defensive side of his game, he is central to everything United do in an attacking way. Unless United go long, they start from the back with Blind dropping off and receiving the ball from the back four something Carrick does. He is always looking to get United going forward. His vision and range of passing is very good. It is one of the hardest things to do in football to work your socks off defensively and then immediately go again going forward, you never stop for a breath. He is comfortable on the ball, his passing percentages are over 85%, unlike last season when no one wanted the ball, it is refreshing to see a player so early in his United career wanting to take chances and continue to want the ball.
He has started to build a very good understanding with his midfield partner, Ander Herrera. The pair of them are not physically big, nowhere near the size of a Toure at City, but they do seem to have hit it off together with them knowing each other’s roles. In the 4-0 win over QPR, much of the talk afterwards was of Di Maria and the riches United had up front, but I was particularly impressed with Blind then. The games against West Ham and Everton ended up being close affairs and Blind put in some work to help out the nervous and unreliable defence. If Blind gets injured I suspect we will miss him as much as missing one of the forward players he is that important to us especially as the defence is our Achilles heal at the moment.
United still lack a dominant central midfielder, a Keane, Robson type as well as a commanding centre half, but I like what i see in Blind. A grafter, someone who thinks of the team rather than personal glory. If you get chance to avert your eyes from the brilliance of Di Maria just watch the work Blind gets through, the chasing, how he picks up the ball and immediately tries to get United going forward. At £14m he could just be one of the buys of the summer not just at United but in the premier league.