If anybody knows what it takes to play at right back for Manchester United, it’s Gary Neville.
That’s where Axel Tuanzebe was used by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer against Everton last night.
It’s not Tuanzebe’s most natural position but he impressed up against Richarlison as United kept a clean sheet.
Neville covered the game for Sky Sports and said on his podcast post-match how impressed he was with the 23-year-old.
“I actually really like Tuanzebe at right back,” said Neville. “I really liked him. I thought he provided a real solidity there.
“He’s not spectacular on the ball like a modern-day right back would be but I think with United’s left backs Telles and Shaw going forward, I do think they can afford to have alongside Bailly, Lindelof or Maguire, another defensive player there.
“They’ve got enough talent in front that can attack. It’s more about keeping clean sheets at the back.”
There’s no obvious candidate who has nailed down the role of backup to Aaron Wan-Bissaka at right back this season.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah has played there and Brandon Williams can do.
But Tuanzebe’s performance last night was on another level to anything either man has produced this season.
On top of that, there’s question marks about the futures of both Fosu-Mensah and Williams.
The Dutchman’s contract expires at the end of the season, while a loan move for Williams in January has been mooted.
One particular weakness of Wan-Bissaka’s is his defending of the back post.
In big European matches against Sevilla and RB Leizpig, he has gone to sleep there and it’s led to goals.
Tuanzebe’s height means he is more capable of defending that zone in the air.
And he has that defensive nous to snuff out danger. Playing him at right back may make United more secure at the back, as Neville suggested.
For a United right back, praise from Neville is the ultimate seal of approval.
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