With Manchester United getting ready to head to Southampton, the ailing defense is starting to heal up. While Ashley Young has been ruled out of the contest due to a knee injury, according to ManUtd.com, Jonny Evans could return to the pitch for United, according to ESPN. The return of Evans will have an impact on the entire United lineup because it will shift Michael Carrick back into midfield.
Of course, it is hard to say exactly what Sir Alex will do with his player selection against Southampton, but the match should provide a nice entry for Evans, and possibly Darren Fletcher, into the new season. A more distant possibility would be for Alexander Buttner to make his debut for the big club, but I am a bit iffy on whether or not changing that many players in front of David de Gea is such a great idea.
Granted, the season is only two games old, but the United defense has looked fabulous and horrible in the same match on both occasions. I thought the return of Nemanja Vidic would solidify the backline, but without Rio Ferdinand there have been some breakdowns. Whether or not Evans, Buttner, Fletcher, or even Rio is the solution to the problem remains to be seen. I am confident that Sir Alex will find a combination that works. After all, the Red Devils were in the hunt for the championship until the final minutes of the final game last season, which means the players are there.
So far Manchester United has had a somewhat underwhelming beginning to the new campaign, but luckily it has been a far cry from a slow start. A victory against Southampton keeps United from falling too far behind the other squads in the title chase, but a loss or draw would see the Red Devils get even more ground to make up. It is early, but I never like to see the team fall too far to the back, because it can be difficult to gain a lot of ground on the top clubs.
The bottom line is that the future looks bright for the Manchester United defense as players start to return to the lineup. As long as Sir Alex has some options on what squad to field, I believe he will find a way to get the team to the head of the standings. Of course, getting Wayne Rooney back and fit would be a major asset for the team as well, but only time will tell.
Jason Gallagher is a long-time Manchester United fan, following the performances of the Red Devils since the days of Eric Cantona and David Beckham.
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