Manchester United conceded 26 goals this season in 34 matches. Last season, only 29 times they conceded in the whole Premier League season. No team, except for the Devils, has managed to concede less than 30 goals in both of the current and last season. That is an achievement.
However, there is still a feel of unease when people talk about the Manchester United defence. And there is a reason too. Manchester United have been undoubtedly lucky this season in regards of goals conceded and biggest part of that is down to David De Gea.
De Gea Is Making A Huge Difference
The Spaniard has been United’s best player in the last three seasons and he could earn the same award this season, too. The team has been allowing 11.8 shots per match in Premier League this season, which is more than Huddersfield (11.4), Watford (11) and Arsenal (10.7). Yet, the three teams have conceded 54, 60 and 46 goals respectively.
United’s organization has been a factor in these defensive numbers, as well, but too often did the team allow easy shots to rivals. David De Gea has made incredible 107 saves and only three goalkeepers have more. Lukasz Fabianski, Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland, however, are not goalkeepers at the second-placed team.
On Friday, most importantly, Jose Mourinho reassured everyone the keeper will stay at the club. “David De Gea leaving the club? No chance”, he said to media regarding the rumours of the Spaniard leaving this summer.
What this means is that Manchester United will have one of the best goalkeepers in the world in their team for another year. Yet, in recent seasons, it always felt like De Gea was at a higher level than the players ahead of him. United are not the team they were five or more years ago and that kind of team would fit this kind of goalkeeper much better. It is simply his level.
At Least Two New Defenders Are Necessary
The solution for that is to build a side like that again. Yes, it sounds too obvious and too easy to say, but Manchester United cannot wait anymore. De Gea is 27 and is reaching his best years. He could be a world class goalkeeper for at least five more years and United need to get the most out of them.
That means building a fortress in front of De Gea. A defence of Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones against Spurs in FA Cup semifinal maybe was not the first obvious choice, but it told a lot about what United need to improve. Valencia is experienced and does well, but United still need an upgrade on right-back. Young is a temporary solution, while Smalling and Jones proved they are not at necessary levels for the things Jose Mourinho wants to reach with United.
Eric Bailly will be the cornerstone of the back four next year, but a new left-back and at least a centre-back will be needed to make this defence work at a higher level. If United are to do big things in Europe and Champions League, players like Toby Alderweireld would be a big improvement. De Gea is at the top of the top right now. United need their defenders to be of the similar level, too.