He has been accused by Gary Neville of taking too few risks as a Manchester United midfielder but Daley Blind has said that he is simply following the orders of Louis van Gaal, who insists that the player prizes possession above all.
Blind, 24, is back in the United team after a two-month injury lay-off and is expected to start against Cambridge United on Friday night in the FA Cup fourth-round tie at the Abbey Stadium.
The Dutchman, who was signed from Ajax for £13.8m, found himself the subject of criticism from Neville, in his role as a Sky Sports analyst, for failing to move the ball forward quickly enough to take advantage of the opportunities offered by striker Robin van Persie.
Neville said that Blind was inclined to “take the easy option”, a judgement with which the midfielder was at pains to disagree with this week. Blind said: “I can take a bit of criticism. The people on television can say what they want. You hear it but I think I have played some good games.
“Of course, you can sometimes play the ball forward but sometimes it is good to keep the ball in possession and make your team-mates play better. I can make other players more important than myself. If I can do that by switching the play to the other side or wait for the right moment to do that, then I will.
“If there is space forward then I will play that ball but sometimes I think it is better to keep possession, to switch from side to side and move the ball and search for players who can make an individual action,” he added. “I am not a player who does that. I like the possession game and keep the ball.
“Of course, I listen to him [Neville] but I try to play my own game and do what the trainer wants from me and that is to keep possession.
“It is important to keep the ball and make the opponent more tired. It is not always the case to finish the game in the first half but you can do it in the second, when the spaces become bigger when you have kept the ball for a long time. You have to wait for the right moment.
“It is all about waiting for the right moment. Sometimes the space is there but other times you have to keep the ball and wait for an opening.”
Having played under Van Gaal at the World Cup, when the Netherlands team’s prospects were for a long time a source of pessimism among Dutch fans, Blind also urged United’s support to have faith in their manager.
Blind said: “I don’t think the whole philosophy of the club has changed in the way we are playing. This is what the manager wants and I agree with it.
“He [Van Gaal] is very clear in what he wants. We all understand what he wants. Of course, if you have played another system for a long time you have to get used to a new one but that isn’t a problem. There are games we are doing it very well but games when we can do it better. We are improving.
“Of course, there are moments we can be better but in total we are getting better. It doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t always switch something in a day. It can take longer but I feel we are improving every week and every game.”Reuse content