The on/off saga of Leighton Baines hasn’t got anywhere near Wesley Sneijder/Lucas Moura/Robin Van Persie proportions but it’s gradually gettting there.
From being the most obvious target of the Summer for Sir Alex- at least according to most papers, or even a ‘done deal’ if the ‘ITK’ brigade is to ever be believed, Baines’s transfer to United seems possible rather than probable.
United have made no secret of the fact they’re pursuing Robin Van Persie and Lucas Moura, although it’s looking increasing doubtful either will be plying their trade at Old Trafford next season. Whether Baines will be brought in is anyone’s guess but it seems Sir Alex could turn to the players in his squad to cover for and possibly eventually replace Patrice Evra.
Despite the general criticism most Reds had for Evra last season, I actually think he played well. Yes it wasn’t his greatest season but it wasn’t nearly as bad as some of the fans made out. The idea that the stand-in United skipper needs immediately replacing is one I don’t agree with and feel that whoever is brought in or promoted to the first team will do so as back-up rather than first choice left back.
If Sir Alex is going to look ‘in-house’ who are his best options?
Irish 20 year-old defender Brady is arguably the favourite to deputise for Evra following Sir Alex’s recent comments before the Amazulu game.
The United boss noted:
“Young Robbie Brady will be at left-back [against Amazulu] . He’s actually an outside-left but we believe there’s the possibility he’ll develop into a left-back. He was on loan last year at Hull City and did very well. He’ll certainly figure at left-back. I don’t know how many substitutes will be allowed – we need to establish that – but I’m sure we can be flexible. It’s important the young players get a chance to play on such a big occasion.
“Left-back is an area which we’re paying attention to. Patrice, in the last five years has played an average of 45-50 games. It’s phenomenal. I don’t know if anybody else has achieved that. He’s still a fit lad and has the same drive and ambition. He’s a fighter.
“Fabio went to QPR, which was so important for the boy because he has enormous ability, but he needs to play. Because Evra, touch wood, is never injured, the opportunities haven’t been there for the boy. He played a few games last season but it’s not enough for a young boy of 21 years. He needed to continue with his progress. With Fabio at QPR for a year, we’re just a little short in that department.
“That’s why we’re trying Robbie Brady at left-back.”
Brady is a talented youngster, of that there can be little doubt and he has the ability to pick out a cross that would certainly be useful for United. The only problem I can foresee with using Brady as a left back, is it’s not his natural position, he’s far more suited to the wing and could be caught out at the back. We all think we’re supportive of United players but how long would it take before fans got on Brady’s case if he was exposed defensively, even a club legend like Patrice isn’t immune to criticism.
18 year-old Blackett may seem too young for a job in United’s defence, but didn’t we say the same about Wes Brown many years ago? Blackett is strong powerful and has the pace you’d need to compete at the top level. My concern with Blackett is sometimes a big strong lad can look amazing against players his own age, or even lesser players who are older, but can struggle against strong top level opposition.
It’s difficult not to get excited by Blackett though, as not only is he strong, quick and powerful he’s also got a shot on him.
Speaking about Blackett before the Amazulu game Sir Alex noted:
We also have Tyler Blackett here – he’s a big, strong boy, tall and quick going forward. But he’s only just turned 18. He has time on his side but he’s here for the experience and he may yet surprise us.”
Hardly a confirmation of intent to use him, but neither was Sir Alex discounting the Mancunian’s chances.
Evans? Are you mental he’s a much-needed centre back! Allow me to elucidate, if Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand are fit, then Evans could be used as a left back if Evra was unavailable. The Northern Irish defender has played there before despite being right-footed. Evans has played for his national side at left back on several occasions and although it’s not ideal, it could be better to have the 24 year-old experienced Evans there, over a teenager or a player who’s footballing experience consists mainly of playing on the wing for Hull City.
There’s the three options, which one if any do you fancy for the left back spot should Patrice be out?