The biggest problem that we have at centre back is the lack of communication. We have a lack of leaders in this position at the moment which is blatant to see if you just look at Wilson’s goal against us. All it takes is either Ogbonna or Balbuena to take control of the situation and instruct the other to press the ball while they sit or vice versa. But they both sat off and let Wilson decide who had to make the challenge and as a consequence they were caught flat. This meant Zabaletta had to make a last ditch attempt which was unfortunately also unsuccessful.
Ogbonna seems to be rated by most sections of our support but I have never felt comfortable with him. He misses too many challenges and thinks he can play a pass but in reality spends 90 minutes hacking about the pitch occasionally kicking people, makes a few headed clearances and gets lauded for it. He was signed from Juventus and as an Italian international he was expected to be a cut above any CB’s in our squad, but generally he has been very disappointing. If he has a partner who will command the defence then I think he can be useful but right now he is too unpredictable which is not a desirable quality in such a dangerous area of the pitch.
Balbuena has only just joined us and it wouldn’t be fair to judge him too harshly just yet. He has looked to be the more composed member of our CB partnership so far but for me he was at fault for Wilson’s goal. He made the challenge that let Wilson in behind the defence and get through on goal. He is just as guilty of not communicating properly but he can still use the language barrier as an excuse as he has been with us for such a short time. He has looked comfortable with the ball and quite commanding in the air. With a more senior partner he could be good value for such a small transfer fee.
The biggest surprise to me is in this position is Diop. We broke our transfer record to sign him, a 21 year old CENTRE BACK. He costs the amount that 2 seasons ago we were going to spend on our 20 goal a season striker and now we spend this amount on a defender. I was expecting him to go straight in to the team and make a real impact, especially as at 20 he was made the captain at Toulouse. Yet 3 games in to the season and he hasn’t had a minute. Hopefully this is just because the other 2 have impressed him and not because we have made a mistake on this one. With changes expected once again against Arsenal hopefully he will get a chance and show that he has to be in the team from now on.
At his best Winston Reid is probably the best centre back I have seen for us. That’s not much of a compliment seeing as I’ve seen the likes of Christian Dailly and Roger Johnson, but he is probably the only one since Rio Ferdinand that has looked as though he could go on to play for a top 4 team. That chance has probably been and gone but it did seem a possibility at one point. He can do everything you could ask for from a defender and he can pick a pass as well as anyone else in his position. He even chips in with a few goals too. But he’s been injured far too much and as a result we are missing a key part of our team and if it hadn’t been for a long term injury I think he could have been moved on in the summer.
Our best centre back last season has been wrongly allowed to leave and while he is not a long term solution to our problems I would love to see Collins come back in to the squad on a short term deal. Ideally with a view to move in to an off the pitch role in the future but right now he would be a cheap, short term fix while Pellegrini finds his long term solution. Adding him back to the squad would allow more time for the new signings to adapt while also having someone who will command the defence next to them. Collins alongside the youthful presence of Diop could be the type of partnership that would complement each other perfectly. It looks as though Reid is out for the long term so that lack of experience and leadership is the biggest problem our defence faces and they have already shown that although early days something drastic needs to change and fast.
It would not necessarily be a move forwards to bring him back but he is certainly the type of signing that can steady the ship and buy us some time while Pellegrini gets the new players ready (And recruits a replacement that is capable for Ogbonna!).
I’ve been surprised by how many people appear to be against bringing back Collins but even sentiment aside the move is common sense, we have a problem and he would be the perfect solution!!
Written By Jack | @myWHUopinion