• Premier League

Schmeichel: United lacking a defensive leader

ESPN staff
October 27, 2014
Van Gaal: We deserved a point against Chelsea

Peter Schmeichel says Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal could rue his failure to sign a commanding centre-back and feels his former club need a defensive leader.

Speaking after the 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Old Trafford, the Dane - who captained United in their 1999 Champions League final victory over Bayern Munich - said he was concerned about the lack of authoritative players in front of goalkeeper David de Gea.

Schmeichel won five league titles with United, beginning when Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister were the regular centre-back duo and ending with Jaap Stam partnered by either Ronny Johnsen or Henning Berg.

Time to man up

Louis van Gaal was happy with a point against Chelsea - but should he be? © Getty Images
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He said he does not see similarly dominant defenders in Van Gaal's squad, with the Dutch manager having already used Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Jonny Evans, Paddy McNair, Tom Thorpe, Tyler Blackett and Michael Keane as centre-backs.

Schmeichel praised De Gea, one of his successors in goal, for his performance on Sunday, but told the BBC's Match of the Day: "Whoever is in Van Gaal's defence, he does not seem to have enough commanding players who can stand on their own two feet.

"He needs a centre-half who can take the team by the scruff of the neck and say: 'This is what we need to do.' That player is not in their squad yet.

"In my time at United, we always had defenders who were leaders and who took responsibility. For various reasons, that is not the case at the moment.

"On Sunday, De Gea played exceptionally well and was trying to bring some sort of stability to their defence with the way he controlled his six-yard box and came for crosses."

De Gea won United's Player of the Year award last season, and Schmeichel has been impressed with his exploits so far this time around.

He added: "He has made some stunning saves against Sunderland and Everton, as well as against Chelsea to deny [Eden] Hazard moments before Didier Drogba put them ahead."

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