It presents Smalling with a problem. His passing has improved since arriving from Fulham in 2010 but he’s not better at it than Blind.
And despite that poor week of results, Blind believes everything has been rosy at Old Trafford under Mourinho.
Blind made difficult passes through a packed midfield to Herrera (nine times), Fellaini (11) and Wayne Rooney (9).
Daniel Lee takes a look at the importance of Daley Blind, Manchester United’s silent catalyst. Watching Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Zlatan Ibrahimović roam around the Old Trafford pitch...
“He deserves more plaudits and I think he will get them if he carries on playing the way he is playing. Everyone is standing up and taking note that Daley is one of the mainstays of this team and he is keeping us ticking,” said his teammate Chris Smalling, in April.
On 7 December 2008, Blind made his debut in the Ajax first team in the away match against FC Volendam. Blind made an immediate impact when he forced a cornerkick through a Volendam defender, from which Jan Vertonghen scored the winning goal for Ajax. On 19 December 2008, he signed a contract extension keeping him with Ajax until 30 June 2013.
More than that, he has demonstrated exactly why he belongs there.
There are still question marks regarding to Blind’s best position – having played as a centre-back, left-back, centre-midfield, left-midfielder and a defensive midfield throughout his career. During his days as a Ajax player, Daley Blind excelled as a defensive midfielder, the ideal role he should currently be playing under Jose Mourinho and also went on to helping the Dutch side win four league titles in a row.
During the 2013–14 season, De Boer moved Blind back to his natural defensive central midfielder position and was named Dutch Footballer of the Year as Ajax won a fourth consecutive league title.
Blind’s importance to the team will be further highlighted after the international break when he is expected to start the Manchester derby, tasked with extinguishing the fire of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in what is surely English football's biggest contest this season. It will be another test of quality and one that examines the true strength of his alliance with Bailly, as well as his own place in the XI.
Fast forward a couple of days and the critics are out in force after a shaky display in the defeat to City.
Blind's superb reading of the game compensates for a lack of pace, and is the perfect foil for Bailly's more physical approach.
Blind made his debut 13 days after his signing, playing the full 90 minutes as United beat Queens Park rangers 4–0 at Old Trafford for their first victory of the season. His first goal for the club came on 20 October, a 20-yard strike that earned United a 2–2 draw at West Bromwich Albion.
It was seconds after a longish pass aimed at Zlatan Ibrahimovic had missed its target. Mourinho pointed to Ander Herrera and asked ‘why not there?’ He wasn’t expecting an answer.
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“I think we have a great squad with great talents, so I think we’re doing great.
Playing as the left-sided centre-back, the easiest option should have been to pass to the left-back, but he only found Luke Shaw three times. In contrast, Bailly made most of his passes to his right-back, Antonio Valencia (8).
Matteo Darmian's fate is a contributing factor, with the Italian not fancied so far - although he may feature in the Europa League or EFL Cup games. Most would prefer to see Timothy Fosu-Mensah.
United’s current midfield is nowhere close to helping the club challenge for the league title and placing Blind in midfield can help increase the side’s tempo in the attacking half.
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The double pivot of Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini followed by Wayne Rooney in the centre attacking midfield role, already has a lot of weaknesses written all over it.
Blind, Daley - Man. United (ENG)
Scholes opined that the nation was waiting for Blind to fail. But he has already proved a success. Hold fire on those obituaries.
Blind formed a fantastic partnership with Chris Smalling last campaign, completing 55 appearances in all competitions, more than any Manchester United player for the past 21 seasons.
But Mourinho, always a man of contradictions, has worked very well with players like Blind in the past, most notably Michael Essien at Chelsea, and Pepe at Real Madrid. Essien and Pepe, like Blind after them, could occupy a variety of roles with immaculate discipline, and Blind should go on to follow in that tradition. What Mourinho demands, above all, is tactical rigour and defensive excellence.
The Dutchman was arguably even better than Bailly in that last-minute 1-0 win against Hull, United's third successive victory in the league under Jose Mourinho. While Bailly took the plaudits for another dominant performance, Blind's contribution, though subtle, was no less valuable. It is often said of Blind, not unfairly, that if he were a degree faster he would be one of the world's elite defenders, but he makes up for much this relative shortage of pace with his superb anticipation.
On 30 August 2014, Manchester United reached an agreement to sign Blind subject to a medical and agreement of personal terms. The transfer was completed on 1 September 2014 for a fee of £13.8 million.
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It’s no secret that the Ajax graduate lacks the height and strength to be Manchester United’s long-term solution at centre-back, although Blind’s intelligence and reading of the game helps to cover these weaknesses he has as a defender.
Blind was also excellent at the KCOM Stadium where he maintained his fine start to the first campaign under Mourinho, keeping the hosts' striker Abel Hernandez at bay and playing a key role in what became a dramatic 1-0 win. He was later among MUTV's three nominees for the star-man poll and earned 21 per cent of votes cast by followers of @ManUtd on Twitter, while Bailly triumphed with 64 per cent.
“We have to keep this positive feeling for the next matches.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be considered as representative of Manchester United Football Club.
A full international since 2013, he has earned over 30 caps and was a member of the Dutch squad that finished third at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
However, defeat to rivals Manchester City started a nightmare week in the middle of September, which saw United lose three games in a row – including an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Watford.
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The 22-year-old, quick, strong and powerful, did the dirty jobs while Blind added the guile. They could almost have been Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, two players with very different skills but formidable together.
But the Red Devils recovered to beat Northampton Town in the EFL Cup, before thrashing league champions Leicester 4-1 and claiming their first three Europa League points of the season against Zorya on Thursday.
Giving Pogba the advance role in midfield would mean Fellaini covering most of the defensive contributions and would leave the side very open on a counter-attack situation. Also, keeping in mind that the captain is rapidly ageing and Mourinho looks to be playing a system to accommodate him, not to accommodate our best players.