Daley Blind put in a poor performance against Everton on Sunday and that should be a cause of concern for Manchester United.
After a run of good performances, starting at Old Trafford against Tottenham Hotspur in mid-March, United put in what can perhaps be considered as their worst under Louis Van Gaal against Everton and were duly beaten 3-0. After losing Michael Carrick to injury in the 4-2 win against the noisy neighbours, Blind was moved back into midfield to cover for Carrick’s absence.
The Dutchman's performance was poor as he was too often absent as players like James McCarthy and Ross Barkley dominated the middle areas of the pitch. It is hard to imagine Carrick being as caught out as often as Blind was. The Dutchman was uncertain and alongside Paddy McNair nervously pulled out of a challenge, enabling McCarthy to march into United’s penalty box and slot in Everton’s first goal unopposed.
Blind looks assured when in possession of the ball, but was accused by Gary Neville in November of rarely passing forwards, instead taking the risk free option of passing sideways.
‘He (Blind) has got to start looking up more and playing forward,’ said Sky Sports analyst Neville.
‘He plays far too many square passes and takes the easy option.’
Neville’s assessment of Blind seemed harsh at the time, but they have undoubtedly looked a far better side with Carrick in the team. United’s attacks always seem more potent when he in the middle of the pitch, as opposed to Blind. The Englishman looks much more assured in the tackle and rarely leaves the centre-backs behind him exposed. Carrick’s absence arguably contributed to the ease that Eden Hazard picked his way through United’s midfield against Chelsea. The Geordie reads the game brilliantly and may have seen that attack building.
However, the former Ajax midfielder was also absent from that match. Nevertheless, unlike Blind on Sunday, the Englishman looks much more assured in the tackle and rarely leaves the centre-backs behind him exposed.
In fairness to the Dutchman, he has been excellent recently and has supported some attacks well this season, scoring crucial late equalisers against West Brom and West Ham. Before missing the Chelsea game thanks to a wild Vincent Kompany tackle in the Manchester derby, he was in excellent form at left-back.
However, since Luke Shaw returned to the side against Chelsea and Everton he has been impressive going forward and now questions can be raised over Blind’s place in the team when everybody is fit. It is hard to imagine Van Gaal ever dropping Carrick when the 33 year old is available and Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera have been just as impressive in recent months after prolonged periods out of the side.
For the first time since signing from Ajax in the summer, questions can be asked about Blind’s place in the side. It is up to him to answer them.