Manchester United academy product Robbie Brady earned himself a place on the tour this summer and Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that he will give the 20-year-old a chance to impress him against AmaZulu in the first match, but not in his position of choice.
Sir Alex Ferguson said: “Young Robbie Brady will be at left-back. He’s actually an outside-left but we believe there’s the possibility he’ll develop into a left-back.
“He was on loan last year at Hull City and did very well. He’ll certainly figure at left-back.”
Fantastic news, for multiple reasons.
Firstly, Robbie Brady deserves his opportunity. If not for injuries in the 2009/10 season, he may have already made his first appearance for the senior squad. He impressed on loan at Hull City last season, a period which saw him play 39 games and net three goals from his natural outside left position. This is United – why bring a player into Old Trafford when you can give a youngster who has worked his way up through the academy an opportunity?
Secondly, look at the case of Jordi Alba. Despite being a natural winger, he was converted into a left-back by Valencia due to an injury crisis. Fast forward to today; Alba has been bought by Barcelona for a mere €14 million, an absolute steal. A scintillating Euro 2012 tournament rightfully saw him placed in the team of the tournament because he managed to find the difficult balance of combining defensive duties with marauding runs to bolster the attack, none more so than his fantastic goal in the final against Italy. It was an almost perfect display of what a modern full back is.
Maybe Brady is United’s Alba? He is only young and certainly has time on his hands. It would certainly increase his opportunities with the first team if he chose to ply his trade at left-back as United are spoilt with wingers, so he might decide to make the change.
Thirdly, the decision to give Brady a chance to show his worth as a left-back puts cold water on the Leighton Baines rumours circulating. Some people argue that Leighton Baines would be a great signing – he is the most consistent left-back in the league and at 27, has his best years ahead of him, they cry – whilst there may be some truth in that statement, it is wrong for what we need.
I believe in the not so distant future we will see Rafael and Fabio as our starting full backs. Fabio going out on loan next season to QPR was the best decision for him because of Patrice Evra’s consistent fitness stopping him from pushing his way in the team. When he returns from a hopefully successful spell Fabio will be able to get some real game time at Old Trafford, meaning the purchase of Baines this summer would be short-sighted and extremely unlike Sir Alex.
Patrice Evra has been on the decline for a few years. He isn’t the world class left-back we grew to love and although he still is a regular performer, it just isn’t to his pre 2010 World Cup levels.
Sir Alex Ferguson knows this. He said: “Left-back is an area which we’re paying attention to. Patrice, in the last five years has played an average of 45-50 games.
It’s phenomenal. I don’t know if anybody else has achieved that. He’s still a fit lad and has the same drive and ambition. He’s a fighter. That’s why we’re trying Robbie Brady at left-back.”
One thing is for certain – we are in need of another left back at Manchester United. Sure, Brady at left-back might not work out against AmaZulu tomorrow but I would much rather see Sir Alex looking for options from our lower ranks than buying established faces. It is a method that has served us well in the past and I see no reason for us to chance our style now.