Sir Alex Ferguson does not appear to be sleeping much as the transfer window nears its close, and Dutch left-back Alexander Buttner became yet another wise addition to the Manchester United roster.
Simon Rice of The Independent reported Tuesday that United paid £3.9 million to Vitesse Arnhem for Buttner’s services. The 23-year-old was elated with the move, and Rice quotes him saying, “If a week ago, you told me that together with Robin van Persie I would be playing at Manchester United, I would have driven you straight to the madhouse.”
He had five goals in 32 appearances last season for Vitesse Arnhem in the Eredivisie, and he will start his career with the Red Devils as an excellent option to spell Patrice Evra.
Manchester United lacks depth on defense and started two midfielders in its back line during the team’s first league fixture against Everton. Antonio Valencia—normally a winger—was forced to play right-back while Michael Carrick took a step towards his own goal to play center defender.
This proved to be a problem as Everton’s Marouane Fellaini overpowered Michael Carrick on a corner kick and United shockingly lost the match 1-0. The team signed Buttner the next day.
The Red Devils are actually fairly deep at center half, but an absurd string of injuries led to Carrick’s inclusion on the back line. Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Rio Ferdinand were all unfit for the fixture, according to Ian Ladyman of The Daily Mail.
The team’s options at outside back are much thinner. Patrice Evra had been extremely reliable at left-back during his United tenure up until last season when his form started to slip. If this turns out to be a trend, the Red Devils were without a backup plan before they added Buttner.
On the other side, questions still loom as Ferguson is clearly wary of including Rafael due to his inconsistency. Jones’ return will solve some problems, but until then, Ferguson is clearly in a predicament.
At least he can rest a little easier now with the left side looking strong. If Evra is in good form, the long-time United boss will have nothing to worry about, and he has not spent much money on his reserve.
If the Frenchman is unable to play at a high level, Buttner will get a chance to shine at Old Trafford. Even if his opportunity does not come until farther down the road, the Dutchman is still young and signed to a five-year contract, as noted by Nick Coppack of ManUtd.com.
The current balance between young players like Buttner, Rafael, Smalling and Jones compared to experienced backs like Nemanja Vidic, Evra, Ferdinand and Evans is an excellent sign for the team.
However, questions will still remain about the team’s ability to play at a high level in the back until a few more players return from injury.