Manchester United summer signing Daley Blind has been responding to criticism from former United right-back Gary Neville, and in doing so he's said a couple of interesting things. Quoted by Mark Ogden in the Telegraph, he started off by defending United's slow build-up play.
"I can take a bit of criticism. The people on television can say what they want, you hear it, but I think I have played some good games. Of course, I listen to [Neville], but I try to play my own game and do what the trainer wants from me and that is to keep possession."
As it happens, Blind has been far from the worst culprit for United's turgid performances this season; he actually seemed pretty dynamic on the ball in his first few games, so perhaps Neville's performance was a little wide of the mark.
However, even more interesting is what follows. The gulf between United's recent first- and second-half performances have led to some observers suggesting that it is a deliberate ploy from Louis van Gaal to lull opponents into a false sense of security before turning things, in the immortal words of Nigel Tufnel, up to eleven. Blind seems to suggest there may well be something in that theory:
"It is important to keep the ball and make the opponent more tired. It is not always the case the finish the game in the first-half but you can do it in the second when the spaces become bigger when you have kept the ball for a long time. You have to wait for the right moment. It is all about waiting for the right moment. Sometimes the space is there, but other times you have to keep the ball and wait for an opening."
And to finish, he defends the much-maligned 3-5-2:
"If you have played another system for a long time, you have to get used to a new one, but that isn't a problem. It doesn't happen overnight. You can't always switch something in a day and it can take longer, but I feel we are improving every week and every game."
... you might be the only one there, Daley.