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The Defensive Dilemma

Jonny Evans has returned to United after a successful loan stint at Sunderland. Reports have it that the reasoning behind that move would be to fight for a place for himself at the centre of defence during the course of the next season and the season after that.

All this comes with the possibility (if not already confirmed) of Pique also returning to OT next season to fight for a place in the centre of defence.

This leaves us with a happy problem, and leaves the boss in an enviable situation where he can decide how to handle such extremely promising talents who have progressed very well (probably quicker than many thought, at least with Evans).

As we know, the centre of our defence is well settled, with Vidic and Ferdinand complementing each other superbly. Brown remains an able replacement for either of them while we do have Silvestre (who despite his faults can play as a decent centre-back), Heinze and O’Shea who can all deputize at that position. While the quality of this back up, besides Brown, could be questionable, they had given us decent performances last season that carried us through during times of injury to our first choice centrebacks.

However, it is critical for a club of our stature, if we are to be challenging on all fronts, to have quality in our reserves. Something we hope to get from Pique and Evans. Pique has progressed well for Zaragoza, playing regularly at the centre. He’s also chipped in with a few goals. I have managed to see a bit of him in the La Liga and liked the way his season has shaped up. He seemed composed for a lad as young as him and also seemed at ease dealing with aerial balls. Something the tall Catalan defender will see more of, in the EPL.

I couldn’t catch much of Evans, although I have read rave reviews about him all over. But Sunderland had one of the better defences in last season’s Championship winning side and with him at the heart of the defence he sure would have done some good work there. Before belittling his performances with the excuse that he played in a lower division, let us not forget that he’s just 19 years of age.

Now the problem that we will have next season is how to give these two young guys a good run out without unsettling our defensive pairing that is certain to start with Vidic and Rio (barring injuries). More importantly will they get the nod ahead of Silvestre, or O’Shea or Brown? And if so, then which of the two will get preference?

I believe Brown would be expected to feature more on the right side as Neville’s fitness seems questionable. A fit Neville would certainly start, but with the wear and tear that age brings into a person, be prepared for more injuries to our older players this season. That leaves us with Silvestre, Pique and Evans to contend with. Silvestre (although more of a left back) seems adamant to stay on and win the manager’s confidence. Personally, his presence in the centre of defence gives me the heebie-jeebies, although the team management still think his presence in United’s setup worthwhile.

But then wouldn’t we be denying our youth more playing time due to the presence of some average player, when these young players might show more improvements if given a longer run in the side?

Or should we farm out one of them on a short term loan within the Premiership to see how they fare in the league, so that we are certain of their quality in our league?

I would have actually wanted Evans to stay on in Sunderland at least for another 6 months to see how he does in the Premiership. Pique with his La Liga experience seems more ready to make the natural progression to the physical demands of the EPL.

And I would certainly want to see Mikael Silvestre sold. O’Shea is a much more versatile back up in my opinion.

What do you guys think?

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