Solid as a rock: Do Manchester United need another centre half?

Rewind to almost every transfer window in the post Sir Alex Ferguson era. The cry was consistently ‘Manchester United NEED a new centre half’. Right up until the latest window, fans everywhere were adamant efforts should be concentrated upon signing that new defensive rock that would ensure breaches were few and far between. Mats Hummels was constantly linked, Sergio Ramos allegedly all but signed, and name after name were suddenly thrown to the fore in a bid to seemingly plug a huge gap.

But in the last three games, things seem to have changed. Chris Smalling had started solving part of the issue with a drastic change in form and ability, suddenly becoming Mr Dependable. Daley Blind was a fine stand in and an ample stop-gap, but Arsenal exposed his weaknesses, Smalling was missing a partner. Step forward Phil Jones. The much maligned Englishman was recently laid low by thrombosis (another on a long list of injury woes) but almost looks like a new man – no longer made from a fine porcelain that could break on the slightest contact. Smalling may now have his partner if luck continues to shine.

The Mirror believe the pair are well on their way to proving United don’t need to splash the cash on a megastar centre half. A second successive clean sheet in the League came on Sunday, and the two have played together for some time now at both club and international level, the understanding is there, and is so far being used to great effect. The rumour is Wilfred Bony and Romelu Lukaku are both lost in Chris Smalling’s back pocket, and the United player has had trouble sitting down since the Everton game.

“We are at Man United, so we are always going to be linked with Ramos or Hummels or whoever it is. It’s not a problem. It’s something you have to deal with from when you are a kid.

“You have to battle your way through and show people. If you can’t cope with that you don’t deserve to be at the club. We are at one of the best clubs in the world.

“I would be a bit worried if we weren’t linked with the best players in the world. It’s natural and healthy.”

Phil Jones is under no illusions. But appears completely determined to ensure he isn’t ousted by someone like Sergio Ramos or Mats Hummels. Smalling was in a similar position not too long ago, beleaguered by injuries, and that took an effect on his form. I don’t believe in coincidences, his upturn in form is surely directly linked to banishing the injury demons, and the same can happen for Jones if he suffers a similar fate. Of course, if the opportunity were to present itself that a player of Hummels’ undoubted ability should become available then it would create something of a quandary, and should be seriously considered. But until that point, these two can prove why that wouldn’t be something Louis van Gaal should consider, and perhaps save funds for areas more in need.


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