How often has it been said – “Forwards win you games, Defenders win you championships”. Manchester United are the champions of England, but yet again, they fail to achieve any European success. It all began when the Red Devils bowed out of the UEFA Champions League in the group stage against the Swiss side FC Basel last season. United fans came up with an excuse following Nemanja Vidic’s knee injury, which eventually ruled him out for the rest of the season. But why does the United defence crumble in the absence of their Serbian skipper? This, they fail to answer.
The embarrassing 1-6 derby loss to Manchester City and the shocking 4-4 draw versus Everton at the Theatre of Dreams turned their fates inside-out, as they lost the title to Manchester City on goal difference. Culprit? The United back-four. And the hard fact is, they haven’t been any better this season, defensively. Their loose defending has yet again managed to raise a few eyebrows. Fortunately, this time around they had David De Gea in sublime form. They also had Robin van Persie and Co. to shelter their defensive vulnerability. They did concede a hefty amount of early goals, but thanks to their trademark comebacks, they managed to stay on top along the course of the season. But now that the season draws close, the question is – how long will they cling on?
Sir Alex Ferguson needs to bolster his team’s backline. They need a tenacious defender, one who can step up at their captain’s level and save the day. That “one” man is none other than Mats Hummels. Hummels, at 24, is at the top of his game. He’s one of the best defenders in the world. The former Bayern Münich man is heavily built. Standing tall at 6ft 4, he is capable of out-muscling any opponent, which makes him perfect for the Premier League. He has some very lucrative qualities that tempt many footballing giants to try to lure him home. He has a sweeper style-of-play. He reads the game very well, often coming up with vital interceptions, avoiding potential build-ups. He loves coming forward. He rushes up front, contributing in counter attacks. His long passes from the back are capable of opening up the most taut defences. Adored by pundits and plaudits, Mats enjoys direct comparisons with the great Franz Beckenbauer.
With Vidic returning from injury, Sir Alex will probably restore the Ferdinand-Vidic partnership, but how long will it fare? Ferdinand is in the dusk of his highly-decorated career at 34. Vidic, admittedly, is not at his very best anymore. Phil Jones is excellent. He is a warrior. He has that little Duncan Edwards in him. His potential is unquestionable. The performance, perhaps, is. Is he ready to face the might of the European football? The answer – no, not yet. Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling are very capable individuals and very versatile too. Evans has an amazing long range passing ability. Chris, on the other hand, adapts well in the right-back position. But, they both desperately lack consistency.
Hummels recently cleared the air and confirmed the rumours stating that he might leave Dortmund. Taking into consideration Nemanja Vidic and Phil Jones’ long lasting injuries, Rio Ferdinand’s age and back problems and Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling’s inconsistency, this could be the right time for the 20-time English champions to make a move for the German international. With the kind of form he is in and the importance he holds for Borussia Dortmund, Jürgen Klopp won’t let him go easily. The German international might cost United around £ 21,000,000, according to transfermarkt.co.uk.
As of now, Hummels will play part in the Champions League final against his boyhood club, Bayern Münich. Will he end up at Old Trafford? Well, United fans can only hope!