Daley Blind has been a key player for Manchester United this season, featuring in 50 games.
The 26-year-old is one of Louis van Gaal chief disciples, having been brought to Old Trafford shortly after starring for LVG’s Holland side at the 2014 World Cup.
So, if the under-pressure manager were to leave the Red Devils this summer, could Blind fall out of favour?
Guest writer Jamie Smart delves deeper into the ifs, buts and maybes surrounding Mr Blind.
Where does Daley Blind’s United future lie?
BY JAMIE SMART @JS_43
It seems bizarre to even contemplate Daley Blind losing his place in the United starting XI after a brilliant season for the Dutchman – at least in terms of his own performances, regardless of how disappointingly the campaign ends for his club.
In a season where Blind’s footballing brain has prevailed over the conventional stereotype of a successful defender, at least in England, where nothing less than a Jaap Stam stature will do, Blind has been the yang to Chris Smalling’s ying in a partnership that has provided statistics for the second best defensive record in the league, with the help of David de Gea of course.
However, excellent ball-retention qualities and extraordinary vision, ironically for a man named Blind, suggest that the 2014 signing from Ajax is destined to follow in the footsteps of Michael Carrick, a figure who changes the United side completely when involved.
Blind has a similar style of play to Carrick and, although he was accused of playing ‘too safe’ last season, he could develop into the calming presence in midfield that every team needs.
A factor to consider is the possible arrival of twice-sacked Chelsea manager José Mourinho, who was described as the perfect fit for United by Sky Sports pundits Jamie Carragher and Graeme Souness earlier this week.
The current style laid out by Louis van Gaal is heavily possession-based, with the central defenders pushed right up near the halfway line and being much more involved with the play than they would under Mourinho. The risk of Blind being caught out by the opposition is reduced significantly due to Van Gaal’s side deploying the ‘if you haven’t got the ball, you can’t hurt us’ ideology.
So will José move Blind into midfield?
We have seen Mourinho opt for the double pivot on more than one occasion and opting for it again could prove to be disastrous for Blind.
The first thing we think of in a Mourinho midfield is a physical, combatant destroyer. A player who is able to break up opposition attacks, turn possession over and sit in to give his midfield partner a license to get further forward. Examples of this are Claude Makelele in José’s first Chelsea stint and Sami Khedira at Real Madrid (both playing deep in a midfield three), Esteban Cambiasso at Inter Milan and, most recently, Nemanja Matic. The closest option United currently have is Morgan Schneiderlin, who has yet to show the form of his impressive Southampton days.
Next to the destroyer is usually a creative midfielder, such as a Cesc Fabregas or a Luka Modric. Perhaps Blind could fulfil this role under Mourinho, but his numbers from past two seasons – three goals and three assists in 57 Premier League games – suggest that he’s not quite what Mourinho will be looking for, especially after Rooney’s admission that he wishes to take up the Paul Scholes role in midfield.
Blind’s best hope would be that Mourinho deploys a three-man midfield. Otherwise, the Dutchman could be harshly ousted out of the starting XI.