Casemiro: The cement between the stones 

For years it would seem Manchester United have wandered aimlessly in the transfer market, whilst everyone else got stronger and the Reds got left behind. 

Manchester United’s midfield has for a long time been a problem. It has been a revolving cast of players, but nobody has really made the position their own.

Everyone had their own players that they wanted to buy in terms of a young midfielder who would become the defensive midfielder we all dream of, but the club had other ideas.

Last summer when we first got linked to Casemiro I was very skeptical, he wouldn’t leave Madrid for Manchester right?

When the deal was completed, I was ecstatic, Casemiro is a top-class player, and he would fill the huge hole we had in midfield. The long term was an issue but still a signing that everyone could get behind.

The usual suspects in our fanbase and our rivals were suggesting we bought a mercenary coming for one last payday, a Madrid cast off etc. Many pundits saying he wasn’t as good as he was being made out to be implying, he was carried to those Multiple Champions League wins.

Erik ten Hag has spent the summer trying to reunite with Frenkie de Jong, a player he coached at Ajax, but this didn’t come to fruition. Many would deem his pursuit of Casemiro as a panic buy after the de Jong fiasco, but with Christian Eriksen signing on a free transfer from Brentford it was a shrewd move.

I wrote an article when United had Fred and Scott McTominay in midfield that they needed to turn the chaos in midfield into control. Now, with Casemiro in the middle of the park alongside Eriksen, United finally have that control and it makes such a difference.

Games are won and lost in the midfield so having a serial winner in there with all his experience makes so much difference, particularly to a side short on confidence after the first few games of this season.

The more I have watched him play since he came into the side after the defeat to Manchester City in early October, the more I realise what a different class of player he truly is.

Watching his movement off the ball and positioning just reinforce how great he is at his position, the upgrade on McTominay and Fred is staggering. This is not to do them down but to more state just the level of Casemiro.

The ability to sniff out danger and be in the right place at the right time is something you cannot teach or read on a spreadsheet or graph. The ability to know whether to come toward the danger or back off just comes from years of experience.

Most United fans would have chosen a young midfielder and wanted him to develop over getting an established name player, but this has meant he can be plugged in and is ready to go. This helps not only his fellow players but also the manager because he will just do what he does best and allow the manager to work on other parts of the team.

One of the aspects of his game I like is his ability to not only win the ball but its what he does when he receives it, most players look for the simple or safe pass and there is nothing wrong with that. Casemiro on the other hand often goes forward putting United further up the pitch and on the front foot.

A key example of this was Everton away in the league when he dispossesses Alex Iwobi and immediately plays a pass from United’s half straight to Cristiano Ronaldo to run through and score what would be the winning goal.

Also, it is no coincidence that with his introduction and the return to form of his ex-Real Madrid Teammate Raphael Varane that United’s defence has improved drastically. He doesn’t allow the defenders to be exposed and his ability to stop attacks higher up the pitch allows them to be less exposed in counter attacks and one on ones.

Whisper it quietly but this United team look like they might be on the way back up the table and it’s no coincidence that his introduction has led to this. A lot of tweets are being deleted about him and pundits are looking more foolish than ever with their takes after his signing and long may it continue.

There is an old George Carlin routine which he says he does not pray to God anymore; he prays to Joe Pesci as he is a man who gets things done. I feel like that about Casemiro, a man who just does things that need doing with no fuss.

A player you don’t notice in games but if he isn’t there, his absence sticks out is worth his weight in Gold. Casemiro is a man with a PHD in the Dark Arts, a man who can do the dirty stuff so well and more importantly not get booked for it.

On the importance of his signing, I wouldn’t rate this as a Rooney or Ronaldo or even a Van Persie signing in recent years, you know those guys were exciting talents or established great ones like the latter.

I would rate this signing more as being on the Edwin van de Sar/ Michael Carrick level signing, where it may take a while to appreciate but become first name on the team sheet. He is a player who always makes the right decisions, I enjoyed watching him from afar but to watch him play live and play for my team is just a joy and long may it continue.

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