Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Iceman Set to Bring Coolness to Back Four

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Iceman Set to Bring Coolness to Back Four

Article excerpt

ON paper, there was little wrong with United's defence last season.

Only Tottenham conceded fewer goals than the 29 Marcos Rojo et al shipped in the Premier League.

But that only tells half the story of an unspectacular approach that saw Jose Mourinho resort to six at the back in the spring.

It was particularly evident in last month's Europa League final, when Chris Smalling and Daley Blind often resorted to aimless long balls in Marcus Rashford's general direction.

With Zlatan Ibrahimovic usually up top, Mourinho did not instruct his defence to play out from the back.

With Ibrahimovic, one out of three of those long balls might have landed but it just did not work against Ajax. Rashford was often left isolated and Davinson Sanchez and Matthijs de Ligt were canny enough to not be caught out by his remarkable pace.

United's midfield was often bypassed as a result - and this is where Lindelof comes in.

Calm and composed on the ball, the 22-year-old will be key to improving United's style with quicker forward passes and onetwos with Paul Pogba and Antonio Valencia.

The idea is to enhance United's transitions - their ability to win the ball back quickly and break away at their clinical best.

Lindelof will beat the heart of that and it is hardly a surprise that transfer targets like Alvaro Morata and Ivan Perisic also fit that profile. W The idea is United's their ability ball back Ciaran hile strong in the air, Morata offers a new dimension up front with the ball while Perisic can find an extra gear when bursting into the final third.

Lindelof's passing range can set them free - something Rojo, Smalling, Jones and even Eric Bailly do not have in their locker.

And that is without addressing the Iceman's equally impressive composure without the ball.

Rather than making his name as a tough tackler, Lindelof is already on his way to mastering the art of pickpocketing a forward. Just five yellow cards in 73 games for Benfica reflects that clean approach.

His humbleness and love of extracurricular training sessions will make him a popular addition and Bailly already seems the perfect foil for him. …

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