Why Diogo Dalot should be playing more for Manchester United
Manchester United's poor summer transfer window was well documented. Whether you think Jose Mourinho or Edward Woodward are to blame is a debate for another day.
We've barely seen anything from the big splurge in Fred, while Lee Grant came in as a third-choice goalkeeper. The Englishman has played once. Perhaps the most intriguing signing was the Red Devils' move for Diogo Dalot; a little-known full-back who'd only played a handful of top-level games for FC Porto.
A deal worth around £19million was agreed, the Old Trafford faithful began to get excited. Then came the eagerness to see their new man in action - although they'd have to be patient as he spent the summer injured. His big moment came in the Champions League. The 19-year-old didn't disappoint.
Within minutes, we learned what Dalot was about. Strong, quick, confident. He has the pace to beat a man, he has the quality to fire a cross into the box. United have been lacking in that department on both flanks. Suddenly, the club has finally found their long-term replacements for Patrice Evra and Gary Neville.
Dalot was outstanding against Young Boys. He backed that up with an excellent outing against Derby County in the Carabao Cup. It was his cross that Marouane Fellaini converted to send that game to penalties. Somewhat frustratingly, we haven't seen the man from Portugal since. Why? As the old saying goes, if you're good enough, you're old enough. The fact that he's on the Golden Boy shortlist after less than ten competitive appearances tells you everything you need to know about his talents.
He should be playing more, I don't think it's even a debate. Anyone with two eyes who has watched United for any prolonged period of time will tell you that Antonio Valencia simply isn't good enough. Sure, the Ecuadorian is a great leader, hence the captain's armband he so proudly wears, but in terms of ability in the full-back position, Dalot wins hands-down.
United have been brought up on the mantra that is getting the ball out wide and firing in crosses. First of all, you have to get in the position to whip the ball into the box. Valencia, now 33, just doesn't have the legs to bomb up and down that right-flank as he once did. More often than not, he sits back, purely because the gas tank is close to empty. Secondly, when Valencia does get into the correct spot, the cross is predictable. It's always a low-driven effort with his right foot. It's more of a hit and hope than anything. Unfortunately, it was a similar story for Ashley Young against Newcastle. Is it really surprising that all our threat came down the left, where both Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial were tearing The Magpies apart?
If United had that at their disposal on both flanks, it'd bring another dimension to a struggling attack. I'm not saying that Dalot is already a world-beater, I'm just stating that familiarity with the position often outweighs talent. That's the case here. Heck, he cannot do any worse than Valencia or Young have done this season. That's not a knock on the pair, they've been great servants for this club. Father Time is undefeated. He's winning the battle with these guys right now.
It's time for Mourinho to be brave. Give the kid a chance. He's hungry, learning all the time and ready to go. He will make mistakes, that's just footballing nature. I'd much prefer to see him get his shot rather than sitting on the substitutes bench thinking 'I could do better than that'. Heck, what does the self-proclaimed Special One have to lose at this point?