After being harshly left out of the recent England squad, Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been unfairly targeted for criticism.
A move to United was always going to bring Wan-Bissaka increased scrutiny but some of the criticism who has been among the best in red this season has been overboard.
Former Arsenal right back Lee Dixon said (as per Football.London) that Wan-Bissaka needs ‘a huge amount of coaching defensively’ – which is miles wide of the mark about a defender who looks as natural one against as any right back in the division. It’s a strange attack line and a lazy criticism.
Meanwhile, former Leicester transfer supremo Steve Walsh says United should have spent half the money on Kieran Trippier, who moved to Atletico Madrid last summer. (Mirror)
Never mind that his form had fallen off a cliff at Spurs, he’s 29 and United have been stung by aging, declining talent before, Daniel Levy would have demanded a king’s ransom from United and Wan-Bissaka can fill the role for the next ten years.
England are blessed with right backs
Competition for places means Wan-Bissaka faces a tough chance to establish himself for the Three Lions.
Kieran Trippier was left out of the Nations League in June but has since reinvented himself at Atletico Madrid and reemerged as a credible option.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is as good as any Premier League right back and that means that back-to-back Premier League winner Kyle Walker isn’t getting a look-in.
So right back is one of the roles in which England have three established Champions League players and Chelsea’s Reece James also played and scored in Europe’s elite competition earlier this month.
Even the likes of Max Aarons at Norwich and James Justin at Leicester are emerging young players who will be looking to battle for the right back mantle in future, so Wan-Bissaka has plenty of contemporaries to contend with.
Trying to get the edge
Wan-Bissaka is something of an anomaly. He is a winger converted to full back whose defending is better than his attacking. Usually with young full backs, it’s the other way around.
Football365 offered a more balanced critique, using a number of statistics to illustrate the need for his attacking to improve but skewering Wan-Bissaka by calling him ‘uncomfortable to watch’ is overstating the point somewhat.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will hope to coach attacking improvement out of his summer signing and the solid foundation of his defensive work should provide optimism.
But perhaps defensive discipline and consistency is easier to coach – and more likely to come with experience – than quality on the ball and crossing ability.
Moreover, Wan-Bissaka displayed his inexperience and rashness defensively on Josh King’s goal for Bournemouth on 2 November.
If he is making defensive lapses like that, he cannot hope to get into the Three Lions squad over a host of options who offer far more going forward.
It is sometimes bemoaned that modern full backs have lost the art of defending but the fact of the matter nowadays is that being comfortable on the ball and offering attacking impetus is non-negotiable playing in that role for a top side.
Being solid and showing good recovery pace was great for Crystal Palace and has improved United in a role which has been filled by awkward fits for years.
But it may not be good enough to break into arguably the most competitive area of this exciting England squad.
Wan-Bissaka must show improvement in the final third to lock down a Euro 2020 place and silence his critics.
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