Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has faith in his defence based on stats from last season. But how do stats compare to the naked eye? Manchester United may have had most clean sheets than any other Premier League side last season, but they haven’t got the best defence in the Premier League.
Manchester United had one of the best defensive records in the Premier League last season.
The Red Devils kept more clean sheets in all competitions than any other English top-flight club in 2019/20 (via ManUtd.com).
But, since the new campaign began, Manchester United have conceded five goals in two Premier League games.
The best approach going into this window would have been to acknowledge that we did *better* defensively, with there being room for improvement because we all know from watching games last season it wasn’t so flattering.
Every man and his dog can see Victor Lindelof is a weakness, although Harry Maguire hasn’t always coated himself in glory. It could be argued that the skipper would perform better if he was partnered by a better defender, but at the same time I’d expect a top defender to lift the performance of those around him.
Solskjaer is using last season’s defensive stat above to excuse why United probably won’t sign a centre-back this summer. He is happy with his options. Bailly, who he didn’t fancy last season, is suddenly the best thing since sliced pan.
“I think last season proved to us how we can defend at our best,” Solskjaer said on Friday, as per Irish Times.
“Last week wasn’t fantastic, we conceded sloppy goals, but our defensive record shows that with Eric and Harry (Maguire) how good a partnership they were, but also the whole team defending as a team.
“Eric now is fit again and that’s a big, big bonus. I’m looking forward to seeing him develop and playing more games this season because we’ve been waiting for him to first be fit and then to play more regularly.”
Those comments suggest Bailly wasn’t 100 per cent fit to play against Brighton at the weekend, as United won 3-2 late on, but have we seen enough from the Ivorian to convince us he is good enough?
Not only that, but Bailly’s injury record is a big concern.
Solskjaer continued to point out he has faith in his current squad: “As I’ve said many times, I’m very confident in my players. If and when something happens, both ins and outs, we’ll update you. In football you can’t predict too much.
“For me, I’m just working on getting better. My focus is solely on the game [Brighton]. I can’t be thinking any other way. We need points and then we can talk again.”
We can’t be far off Sir Alex Ferguson’s infamous ‘there’s no value in the market’ line!
I don’t believe for one minute that Solskjaer is happy with his defence as it’s not one that will deliver league titles. It really sounds like his hands are tied.