Daley Blind: Manchester United's unsung hero and very own utility man

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Football News

Eyebrows were certainly raised at the start of the season when Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal decided to convert compatriot Daley Blind into a centre-back.

However, Blind has adapted admirably to his new role and the technical quality he now provides from a deeper position has been priceless for the Red Devils on many occasions.

The likes of David de Gea and Chris Smalling have been lauded for their performances this season - and rightly so - but Blind has also been a huge component of what is the meanest defence in the Premier League.


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The Netherlands international has always had the makings of a top-quality footballer, but his ball-playing skills from centre-half have added a totally different dimension to the way United can play.

His versatility is often taken for granted by many and, for this very reason, he is the unsung hero of the current Manchester United team.

There are few central defenders, if any, who are as good on the ball as the 25-year-old Dutchman.

Having come through the ranks at Ajax, Blind is very comfortable in possession and this allows him to start United’s attacks by playing out from the back and even stepping into midfield when necessary.

He anticipates situations well and his excellent positioning means he is able to snuff out opposition attacks before they become too dangerous.

Not only can Blind see a pass wherever he is on the pitch, but he has the ability to make them as well. His exquisite long-range passes have become a prominent feature of United’s play over the past few months.


Having worked successfully with Van Gaal during the 2014 World Cup with the Netherlands national team, Blind understands his countryman's philosophy and knows better than anyone what his manager expects.

And whilst Van Gaal continues to implement a possession-based style of play at Old Trafford, Blind’s qualities will become increasingly important to the club's success.


Despite his good performances, Blind is forever questioned by pundits with regards to his suitability as Chris Smalling’s long-term central defensive partner, simply because he isn’t blessed with the utmost pace and strength.

Blind, however, has responded to his doubters by claiming his footballing brain allows him to play the role well.

You could argue his intelligence, combined with his reading of the game and fantastic passing range, complements Smalling’s dominant style of play. Blind is calm and assured on the pitch, allowing his partner to be aggressive and bully opposition forwards physically.

As a centre-back pairing, the duo have enabled United to boast the best defensive record in the Premier League so far this season.


With Ander Herrera recovering from injury and Michael Carrick currently in and out of the team, United need more options besides Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin in the middle of the park.

Prior to this season, Blind had played all of his football as either a left-back or holding midfielder.

He spent the vast majority of his first season at Old Trafford playing in midfield and his versatility means he’d be just as comfortable there as he is in defence.

Blind’s first Old Trafford goal came in September against Liverpool following a brilliantly worked free-kick. The accomplished nature in which he took his chance epitomised his technical ability.


With Luke Shaw out for the season and Marcos Rojo recently dislocating his shoulder in training, it is likely Blind will appear in the left-back position over the coming weeks and potentially months.

Should this happen, it would be yet another indication of the former Ajax man’s versatility and ability to adapt to different roles. Whether he plays at centre-back, left-back or defensive midfield, there’s no doubt Blind is perfecting the utility role in Manchester.

Premier League
Manchester United
Wayne Rooney

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