On Friday night in Toronto Manchester United fielded an impressive defensive back four against Celtic but with the captains of Serbia, England and France forming part of the defensive ensemble at Manchester United it is hardly surprising. Only against Celtic Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra didn’t feature. Fabio and Rafael, the Brazilian twins, played in the full back positions and Chris Smalling and Johnny Evans played as centre backs. All young players with very little experience between them. Johnny Evans is 22, the Da Silva twins and Chris Smalling all 20.
On Friday night in Toronto Manchester United fans saw the future the way Sir Alex Ferguson sees it. This is the defensive back four he believes will lead Manchester United successfully into the next decade. For the time being, and probably the next two or three seasons, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra and John O’Shea will remain the first choice players but the young quartet who started against Celtic are slowly going to be eased into the first team more and more as time passes.
Chris Smalling and Johnny Evans are imposing physical specimens, standing at 6 feet 4 inches and 6 feet 2 inches respectively, and awesome athletes to boot. Both are quick on the turn, attentive on the ball and sharp in the tackle. Johnny Evans is already well known to Manchester United fans and well regarded. Sir Alex Ferguson has such faith in his ability that he chose to release Gerard Pique to Barcelona a couple of seasons back, believing Johnny Evans to be the better player. Chris Smalling has impressed so much since becoming professional, he was an amateur on the fringes of the game only two seasons ago, that Manchester United had little hesitation in paying £10 million for him despite his inexperience. Smalling was guilty of conceding a penalty in the Celtic fixture but the decision was a little harsh and the signing was made on the basis of his potential, not his current ability.
The Da Silva brothers are a little more raw but they show great promise, especially offensively, with good technique and exquisite control. Sir Alex Ferguson obviously believes good teams in the future of the game will need full backs who offer more in the offensive side of the field then the contemporary equivalents currently do. It is well known that it is often full backs who have the most touches in a match and operate with the most amount of space in front of them. If you have a team with full backs who are capable on the ball and offer creativity then you are a long way in the right direction to creating a team that is fluid and attractive to watch. On Friday night Manchester United fans saw the future of their team.