Since 2012, Manchester United have had a number of forgettable defences and Jose Mourinho has had to work on reconstructing another one. Though buying Bailly was a great decision, his injury and lack of proper match time has raised serious questions about his role in the squad and whether Mourinho looks at Bailly as a starter for Manchester United. When such a dilemma is present, it is important for United to figure out the best centre-back combinations. Considering that the full-backs are pretty much confirmed, even if competition still remains, this is especially true. Mourinho loves 4-3-3 formation way too much. Let’s take a look at those options.
What are the possible combinations?
In spite of injury problems and less game time, Bailly is undoubtedly the best shot United have got as far as defenders are concerned in the transfer market. Bailly provides a firm presence, while Smalling can provide the extra advantage with his height to penetrate defences with set pieces. Overall, a perfect mix of offence and defence, which ultimately enhances adaptability.
In such a scenario, Smalling will have to take the authoritative role, using all his experience earned at Old Trafford. The Swede would take up a more agile role to stop aerial and through balls, taking on the No.9s and secondary strikers. Why not Jones? Because he lacks discipline in the penalty box and that can often lead to great losses (FA Cup Final 2018). Lindelöf, on the other hand, showed his pace and ability in Russia. Given proper training, the former Benfica boy can show brilliant results.
Probable future combinations
With the Belgian international’s contract expiring next summer with an extension highly unlikely, he would be a suitable Bailly replacement. Even though the Ivorian was better in the league last season, he may decide to leave the Theatre Of Dreams due to lack of chances.
This season’s beginning saw Smalling linked with Wolves which may have had very little truth. If The Special One decides to sell the Englishman, this combination would also be a pretty tough a nut to crack for the opposition.
Toby Alderweireld would be financially as well as logically the best option for a quality defender to bring in. However, Manchester United, the richest club in the world, can also afford Harry Maguire from Leicester, though the Foxes would not like to see him go. Any one of them would definitely fill some of the gaps in United’s defence.
This is the potential price difference.
Why not Rojo or Jones?
Rojo, in spite of being a great defender, has had his injury problems. He seems to be one of those players who has failed to get into the mould of United successfully, like Falcao or Di Maria (just nine appearances last season). Jones, on the other hand, works well as a substitute but lacks composure, something which he initially had under Sir Alex Ferguson.