It has been clear for quite some time that United’s midfield is crying out for a new signing. If you follow me on Twitter you should know full well by now that I have long been a proponent of a defensive midfield arrival walking down the Old Trafford tunnel.
Daniele de Rossi is the man for whom I have long argued, a battler, a leader, a fighter, a world class defensive midfielder.
However, since this has always looked unlikely, is it possible that the answer lies much closer, 151 miles away at St James’ Park, where the Geordies very own midfield battler has begun to catch the eye with some terrific battling displays? Here I ask whether United should, in January, Cheik out a certain Ivorian midfielder.
Cheik Tiote joined Newcastle United approximately fourteen months ago, had a steady, and at times spectacular (see his equalising goal in the 4-4 home draw against Arsenal), debut season in English football, and has started this season in fine form, controlling the midfield and sitting in front of a defence that has shipped just seven goals, the best defensive record in the Barclays Premier League. Tiote’s disciplined play in the holding role has released the creative talents of Cabaye, Gutierrez and Obertan (remember him? he beats fullbacks now) further forward, powering this simply constructed but immensely effective Newcastle team to a stunning third place in the league.
Positionally, Tiote is superb: shielding, tackling, intercepting, and distributing the ball simply but effectively. At United, he would provide the crucial holding presence in midfield that the side has lacked ever since September 2008, the fatal month in which Owen Hargreaves’ Manchester United career effectively ended. In taking on the “Hargreaves” role from that fantastic Double winning side, Tiote would release Anderson (who had his best United season pushing on with the insurance of Hargreaves’ covering presence behind him), Carrick, Cleverley, Young, Nani and Rooney to create further forwards, knowing that he was performing a simple but effective role in front of a fairly inexperienced backline.
Yes, I know he signed a six-and-a-half deal in February 2011, I know thatNewcastle would fight tooth and nail to keep him, but I really believe United should take a determined stance on this young, Premier League proven holding player. As for the arguments that a defensive presence is not needed inmidfield, just think back to the darkest day at Old Trafford in many a season,23rd October 2011, the day the midfield was exposed for what it was: simply not good enough, and then try telling me that Cheik Tiote would not be a fantastic signing.