Since his Summer move from Ajax to Manchester United for an estimated £15 million, Daley Blind has quietly impressed. Matt Trevalyan looks at how Blind has the potential to become a key cog in Van Gaal’s team for many years to come.

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blind mn uBack in 2010, Daley Blind was jeered off the Amsterdam ArenA by his own fans after a string of poor performances. He was subsequently loaned out to FC Groningen, who were willing to make the move permanent. Yet for Daley Blind, who will most likely start in one of the most anticipated Manchester derbies this afternoon, such jeers only spurred him on to prove to those who doubted him that he was capable of playing at the very top, something which he proved in the World Cup, most notably for that pass to Robin van Perise.

What turned Blind from a so-called ‘boo-boy’ in to a key player for Manchester United in four seasons? Firstly, it is clear to see that Blind has all the correct mental attributes to be a successful player for United – resilience, determination and professionalism. He overcame those that doubted him at Ajax when it may have been easier for him to ply his trade with a club such as Groningen, where expectations certainly do not match those of the famous Amsterdam club. Although he certainly never had a similar reaction from United fans, there were mutterings from the terraces about United’s no. 17, especially in the FA cup ties against Arsenal and Preston. An impressive start to his campaign with United, two crucial goals against West Brom and West Ham, as well as excellent recent form, has seen such mutterings disappear.

It has been well documented that Blind is not blessed with great pace, and indeed, his long-term future as a left-back is questionable. Blind’s best attribute by far is his ability to read the game several seconds before it comes to pass, thereby allowing the Dutchman to manoeuvre himself best in order to cope with his lack of pace. A prime example of this was in the recent fixture against Liverpool – occasionally he was caught out, but by and large he kept the exceptionally pacey and nimble Liverpool midfield, containing the likes of Sterling, Coutinho and Lallana, under control.

He is also a very adept passer of the ball, and rarely looks flustered when under pressure. He has often been praised by those statisticians as having a successful passing completion rate of well in to the nineties, which has been a key part of Van Gaal’s infamous ‘philosophy’; keep the ball. He also makes vital interceptions, tackles well and evidently has a good eye for goal too. In short, Blind is the next Carrick, but he can go further than that. For many years Carrick was under-rated by United fans as someone who gives the ball away too often, has poor positioning and can’t tackle. Carrick is now in the twilight of his career, yet his understudy, who is only 25, has all the qualities that Carrick didn’t have in his first few years after his transfer from Tottenham.

Blind has only to look at the classic Italian regista of Andrea Pirlo for inspiration. Neither are quick off the mark and certainly could never keep up with the likes of Walcott or Sterling, but they both have similar qualities, and not just the hair. That is not to say, that Blind is as good as Pirlo was a couple of seasons ago, but the defensive midfield role that Blind best performs in is usually filled by a player in their latter years who has lost some of their pace and has had to adapt to a different role. For Daley Blind, such an adaptation will not be necessary and he has all the qualities to be a key player for Manchester United for several years to come.

Matthew Trevalyan (4 Posts)