Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelöf have shown encouraging signs of a developing partnership over the past few weeks.
Results have been mixed, with defeats to Arsenal, Liverpool, and Burnley, but their overall record playing together has improved.
In the last 10 matches Maguire and Lindelöf have played together, United have kept seven clean sheets.
That’s a fine record and shows gradual improvement is being made. Three of these came against Wolves, one Tranmere, another Norwich, and the other being Burnley away.
The duo say they are encouraged by the way their partnership is progressing, saying that patience was always required for them to click with one another, after an underwhelming start to the season.
Lindelöf told the club website: “It’s great to play with Harry. He’s a fantastic player and it’s great to partner with him. We want to win more games and I think, for every game we play together, we become better and better.”
Fight for places
The dilemma for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is that just as the Lindelöf and Maguire partnership is showing signs of blossoming, it is more likely they will be broken up.
Eric Bailly is finally fit again after injury and Axel Tuanzebe has been training with the first team during the winter break in Spain.
Both players need to play and will get chances to prove their own quality.
Bailly at the top of his game is more than good enough to be first choice, while Tuanzebe has even captained the club earlier this season.
United could look to compromise and consistently start playing three centre-backs. This would decrease the need for one of Maguire or Lindelöf to drop out. However this formation shift should only be made if it did not negatively impact the rest of the starting line up.
With a back two, Lindelöf is most likely to drop out as Maguire is captain, but the summer signing has been playing through injury and will be rested and rotated out at some stage. United finally have the back up options to do so.
The competition for places means Lindelöf and Maguire can’t take their partnership for granted, they have to work at it and keep improving.
One argument is that is has blossomed because they have played so regularly together, and it could take a step back if one of them is constantly rotated in and out.
Bailly and Tuanzebe will each be hoping to build a partnership with Maguire themselves, or even together.
Lindelöf and Maguire can’t get too cosy. They might win out at the end of the day, but they will have to demonstrate they are the best.
United may have better options. Why not explore what a Maguire and Tuanzebe or a Maguire and Bailly partnership looks like?
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