Manchester United conceded 54 goals last season. Defensively it was the worst season United has had in a long time. But if Solskjaer gives Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Axel Tuanzebe enough playing time they could really blossom to become excellent centre-backs. In the past whenever Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho played them they always looked impressive and made very few mistakes. Both defenders always looked self-confident and professional in their approach to the game.
They were usually organized, and their positioning and judgement were accurate. Young players sometimes make rash challenges in games especially when they are frustrated or the team isn’t playing well and they try to hard. But with Axel Tuanzebe and Fosu-Mensah they were in control of their emotions and didn’t let their frustrations get the best of them. Even when things weren’t going well for the rest of the team they were calm and composed. I saw these qualities in several games that they played in. I didn’t see any real inconsistencies in their game.
Under Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer both coaches tried different combinations of centre-backs together. Victor Lindelof was our best and most reliable and consistent central defender last season for the club. Lindelof was paired with Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones at different times of the season.
There were varying degrees of success with these pairings. But I believe when Bailly played with Lindelof to me that seemed to be the most successful partnership. When Bailly was fit he looked very solid with Lindelof. This is why its so important to have Bailly fit, because he really shows his class when he’s healthy and match-fit when he’s on the field. Chris Smalling also looked quite solid at times whenever he played with the Swedish international.
What the team needs is stability at the back. For any team in any sport in order for them to win games it usually starts in the defense. If you’re defensively solid that then gives you the confidence to go forward and score goals or points. Both players could solve those problems for us. Also Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Axel Tuanzebe were on loan at Fulham and Aston Villa respectively last season where they would have gained much needed experience.
Now I am fine with Solskjaer searching for more experienced young players that has played in other top leagues in Europe and the world. Obviously these transfer targets many times have played regularly for well-known clubs for a number of years. So I support the club in their efforts in finding the right centre-back(s) for United. But sometimes the home-grown players can be the jewels in the sand that you’re searching for.