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Manchester United Don't Need Another Centre-Back This Summer

13/08/2015 17:36 BST | Updated 13/08/2016 10:59 BST

Ask any Manchester United fan which one player they would most like to see sign for the club between now and the end of the transfer window and most will give the same answer.

Those still worried about the David de Gea situation might name a goalkeeper, while other more deluded individuals will ask for an unattainable marquee signing like Gareth Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo.

The majority, however, will simply say 'a centre-back'.

The overwhelming consensus from most fans desperate for success is that United will not be able to seriously compete in the Premier League or the Champions League this season without one. Many supporters seem to be of the blind opinion that bringing Nicolas Otamendi, most likely for a fee close to £30m or €40m, is the answer to the perceived problems.

Most fans who make themselves heard on social media comment 'We NEED Otamendi' probably without really knowing anything about him. What those people refuse to acknowledge is that things are actually looking promising at the back already.

Throughout pre-season, Louis van Gaal used Daley Blind as a centre-back, much to the unease of spectators and onlookers. The critics immediately said the Dutchman is not strong enough, quick enough or tall enough. Ironically, the only problem Blind had in the opening game of the season against Tottenham was getting caught in possession - not something you would normally associate with a player of his technical calibre.

"People always say I don't have the height or the power but I think I'm clever enough and smart enough," he recently said. In Van Gaal's possession based system that may actually be a better fit.

Phil Jones is certainly not the lost cause people like to claim he is. The former teen prodigy was still eligible for England's Under-21 team this summer and at just 23 years of age, he's far from the finished article. He will only continue to get better as he refines his game even more and weeds out his occasional rash tendencies.

Marcos Rojo is also yet to come back into the side. Many seem to have forgotten that the Argentine actually enjoyed a good first few months at centre-back after arriving from Portugal last season. Only a lack of fitness, perhaps the result of international tournaments in consecutive summers, has held him back. Rojo, like Blind, is left-footed and provides the 'balance' that Van Gaal seems to be eternally searching for. Interestingly, none of the defenders United have been linked with are able to give that.

Paddy McNair and Tyler Blackett are both good options for the future as well. Following a few early nerves, McNair in particular has shown a surprising level of confidence during his various first-team outings and looks to be establishing himself as an important member of the squad.

Granted none of those five players might be the real defensive leader United crave, but in Chris Smalling that already exists, too. The 25-year-old, still relatively young, is now Van Gaal's third captain behind Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick and was a revelation in the final 2-3 months of last season as he finally started to hit his full potential.

Smalling has everything a top class defender needs. He's surprisingly quick across the ground, he's powerful and strong in the air and is always a danger at set pieces. He can physically 'mix it' with Jones or Rojo alongside him, or can be the perfect complement to Blind. He also doesn't seem to get the plaudits he deserves.

Rarely will you see Smalling make last-ditch saving tackles or heroic clearances, but that is because he rarely needs to. The defenders who do those sorts of things on a regular basis are hailed as valiant warriors, but only find themselves in such situations because they misread something and were out of position. Smalling's ability to read the game, often means he in place to mop up danger before it becomes critical. Against Tottenham he was named Man of the Match for exactly those reasons. He was never spectacular, but was in the right place at the right time, every time. In that sense, he's a little like former United great Rio Ferdinand.

The abiding memory of last season for fans, pundits and others still seems to be the 5-3 collapse against Leicester and the shaky defensive displays in October, November and December. People won't accept that anything is any different now because the personnel are still the same. But the back end of 2014/15 told a different story and the players have since had even longer to work the manager over the summer.

Defensively at least, Manchester United will be just fine the way things are.

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