After being signed by Louis van Gaal on deadline day of the 2014 summer transfer window, Daley Blind quickly became a key member of the Dutch manager’s plans. Since the arrival of Jose Mourinho this season, however, game time has been hard to come by for the versatile Dutchman.
Manchester United have 12 games to play in the Premier League this season and to match his first season tally of 25 games, Blind must feature in eight of those games. The Dutchman has no chance of matching his 2015/16 return of 35 games. So how come Mourinho doesn’t trust the second-generation footballer as much as his predecessor did?
His adaptability means he is a useful squad player for the boss. Every successful United team in the past has had a jack of all trades type player and Blind could be that man in this team. Is that what Daley Blind wants at this stage of his career, though?
In the manager’s first press conference with United, Mourinho stated that he is a manager that likes “specialists and not so much the multi-functional players”. This could have been interpreted as an almost personal attack on one of Van Gaal’s most important players.
Traditionally, Mourinho has favoured big, strong, powerful players to fill his squad and unfortunately for the Dutchman, he doesn’t meet any of those criteria. Standing at 180cm, he is dwarfed by his centre-half peers of Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo as well as Paul Pogba and Michael Carrick in the midfield. The grit and determination shown by Ander Herrera keeps him out of the midfield and the pace and power of Luke Shaw at left back (when fit) is also a major hurdle for Blind to impress the current manager.
At 27 years of age, the Dutchman is entering the peak years of his career and should be wanting to be playing regular first team football. For that to be the case he may have to look elsewhere.
Blind’s contract runs out at the end of the 2017/18 season. However, he may find himself moving on before then if United want to recoup the £14 million paid to Ajax in August 2014. No obvious suitors have come forward as of yet but many sides across Europe have expressed their interest in the past.
This is not the only option for the Netherlands international however as it is not impossible for him to work his way into the team. If none of the potential suitors afford the same trophy winning prospects that United should then what would make him want to leave? With an FA Cup in 2016 and EFL Cup in 2017, Blind has already won two major honours at the club and with the future looking bright the opportunities are endless.
Of course, this decision may be taken out of his hands as Mourinho is unlikely to allow passengers into his side. For regular first team opportunities over the coming seasons Blind may have to look elsewhere. But with time on his side, he may still be able to make it in the red half of Manchester.
Written by Adam Ashmore