The transition phase at Old Trafford heads into it’s 6th year, with many managers dismissed before being allowed to implement their philosophy. Things however, look different for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer & he’s been given the time to rebuild this team.
The defence at Man Utd has always looked suspect, it’s completely fair to state that they’ve never replaced the classic central pairing of Nemanja Vidic & Rio Ferdinand. David De Gea also has his fair share of mistakes, which contributes towards a shaky back line.
Man Utd have some good defenders in Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire & Eric Bailly. The problem seems to be a lack of cohesion, as Harry is always having his partner mixed up. Eric Bailly arrived at Old Trafford with great potential, a blazing quick defender with immense tackling ability. Injury after injury means that Ole cannot fully rely on him.
Victor Lindelof also arrived with considerable potential. However, he goes from being a complete world beater to becoming a defensive liability… all within the blink of an eye.
Harry Maguire isn’t perfect, with his fair share of clumsy tackles. The most recent one that comes to mind; when he decided to tackle Luke Shaw in the 6-1 demolition at the hands of Tottenham.
In terms of prospects, Man Utd have an impressive academy. They’ve got a defender which you should keep an eye out for, called Teden Mengi.
However, another defender which is getting ready for his chance in the starting eleven is Axel Tuanzebe, who showed glimpses of what he can do in the victory against Paris St Germain in the Champions League. Axel and Aaron Wan Bissaka dominated Kylian Mbappe & Neymar, stopping them from applying their presence on the pitch.
Fans were very excited to see the pair working well together, as they showed amazing acceleration to keep up with Mbappe on the counter attack. In addition to this, their recovery work was exceptional.
Harry Maguire was unavailable due to injury, but if he had played it could have been a different story. Man Utd relied on pace to stop the threat, something which Maguire doesn’t have.
Although Man Utd have showed their defensive fragility in conceding goals, they are hoping that they have a ready made solution in Axel Tuanzebe. He could step in and provide the burst of pace that’s required. It won’t be an easy task to dislodge Victor Lindelof though, who also worked incredibly hard in the win against PSG.
It’s time for Axel Tuanzebe to kick on now, at 22 years old he’s got sufficient playing experience, albeit not at the highest level. He’s won promotion with Aston Villa from the Championship, which is said to be the hardest league to get out of. In addition to this, he has won the Under 21 Premier League twice with his parent club.
His best accolade so far might just be keeping Kylian Mbappe quiet for 90 minutes, and the way he went about this should reward him with another start soon.
Let’s hope that Axel can keep his injuries at bay, he has suffered in the last 3 seasons with Hip & Hamstring difficulties, which stopped him from earning a place in the side.
He’s got every chance of breaking into the lineup, as Man Utd didn’t sign any centre backs in the Summer. They will want to improve on their 13 clean sheets last season & could look towards the pacy centre back to help nullify attacking threats.