For years now, Manchester United has had a need for a new commanding center back. But, under new circumstances in the club, they might have found the answer already.
Sweden’s player of the year Victor Lindelöf struggled to find form when he first made the move to Manchester United. He came to the club with a lot of promise after the success he saw for Benfica and Sweden.
However, his life at United did not live up to the hype. Under José Mourinho, who was in favor of Lindelöf, he struggled to find himself. Coming to the Premier League is not easy and when you’re a center back and struggling, you cannot play. A big mistake against Huddersfield Town last season saw Lindelöf get a lot of abuse from fans. Times were not looking good and after many missed opportunities to become a first team member, Lindelöf finally accepted his fate as a squad player.
When new life was brought to the club, in the form of caretaker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Lindelöf was back in the mix. Solskjaer knew United needed to develop a new center-back partnership and Lindelöf was to be part of that.
Everyone in the squad has seen a revitalization under Solskjaer but arguably the most improved player has been Lindelöf. Since his arrival as manager, Lindelöf has been able to not just find form, but thrive. In a recent interview, Lindelöf touched on the confidence he received from new caretaker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
”He spoke to me and told me to do the things that I’m good at, to show my abilities and to express myself on the pitch. That was very nice to hear,” Lindelöf said.
Adding confidence and allowing players to just play has shown to be successful for Solskjaer. He’s allowing the talent to speak for itself and it’s evident with Lindelöf.
Lindelöf is a ball playing center back and being calm on the ball is one of his best attributes. Staying calm as a center back is necessary and Lindelöf has been able to demonstrate that as a strength in his game. But, what really separates him is his positioning and anticipation. He’s able to read the game a lot better than most center backs. He’s not making crazy recovery tackles because for the most part, he’s in position to make a play in the first place.
But, what Lindelöf was brought here for, his passing, we’re finally getting glimpses of. He’s confident on the ball and is making very good passes, picking out the likes of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. With quick counter attacking play under Solskjaer, this skill has been very important for United.
However, more importantly, he’s been able to be a rock at the back for United and he’s a major reason for their success as of late. It’s crazy what some confidence from your manager can do for you because Lindelöf is playing really high class football. As good as United has been in terms of attacking under Solskjaer they’ve also been able to shore up the defense.
With this current form really helping him and his life at the club, what’s the future hold? Lindelöf’s form doesn’t necessarily mean that United won’t bring another center-back into the picture this summer. What it does mean is that the Swede is very likely to be one half of a center-back partnership for United next season and beyond.