Why hasn't Victor Lindelof kicked on for United this season?

Victor Lindelof was one of Manchester United’s best players last season.

He recovered from a shaky debut campaign at Old Trafford to become the bedrock of the club’s defence, playing well during Jose Mourinho’s doomed reign and maintaining that form under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The arrival of Harry Maguire was supposed to give Lindelof a solid partner at the back and allow him to push on.

But it hasn’t quite worked like that, with reports suggesting the £31 million (BBC) Swede’s place is now at risk.

Robin Jones – AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images

What’s going wrong?

Metro report that Solskjaer is considering dropping Lindelof for the clash against the man who brought him to Manchester, Jose Mourinho.

Lindelof was carrying United’s defence for much of last season, but this term, the nervousness and indecision which blighted his debut campaign has returned, although not to the same degree.

£80 million signing Maguire has been brought in to be United’s defensive leader and perhaps Lindelof is struggling to adjust to a secondary, covering role.

It looks like a problem with focus, consistency and conviction. Maguire’s arrival should have taken some of the burden off Lindelof, but instead it seems as if he’s slackened off.

The partnership between the pair is not as harmonious as it should be yet. Maguire’s late arrival, without much of pre-season to prepare, can’t have helped on that score, and it must be said that the England international hasn’t been as good as many might have expected him to be.

But Lindelof could have no complaints if he were dropped, and has had plenty of time in which to get his form back to last season’s levels.

Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Who could replace him?

Axel Tuanzebe is the only realistic contender to replace Lindelof at present if Solskjaer does decide to make a change, although Eric Bailly’s injury return will also complicate matters.

The former Aston Villa loanee hasn’t put a wrong when he’s played this season, even allowing for the fact he’s been shunted into both full back roles at times.

Now he’s back from injury, the pressure is on Lindelof to improve and perhaps a change would have been made if Tuanzebe had been fit for the entire season.

That competition for places should inspire Lindelof to push on. It’s bizarre that he has gone backwards with better players around him – including Aaron Wan-Bissaka – and it’s something only he can explain and rectify.

He needs to do it soon or Tuanzebe will be given his spot.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.