Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof will struggle to adapt to the Premier League, according to Alan Pardew.
The Swedish international arrived in a £31m deal from Benfica in the summer, but Pardew believes the step up in class from the Portuguese Primeira Liga to the English Premier League could be too much for him. Speaking on Sky Sports’ The Debate on Tuesday night, the former Newcastle and Crystal Palace boss reference Lindelof’s indifferent showing in the UEFA Super Cup as a potential precursor for the season ahead:
“I thought United’s signings were particularly good with Romelu Lukaku at the top of the pitch, Nemanja Matic in that midfield role and Lindelof at the back.
“They needed a centre-back in particular but Lindelof’s performance against Real Madrid was concerning and there’s been a bit of concern over him in pre-season.
“They’ve had injuries in that area, Smalling never seems to play a full season and Jones is always injured so there’s going to be huge pressure on Lindelof.
“At the moment I think he’s finding it a struggle. Benfica and Portuguese league is not the challenge the Premier League is week in, week out. The intensity of set plays and the pressure put on central defenders is very, very difficult.
“You have to deal with one-on-one situations because you commit all your players forward to try and win the game with the opposition defending so deep. Lindelof’s one-on-one play worries me.”
With probable first-choice partner Eric Bailly suspended, Chris Smalling partnered Lindelof in defence against Real on Tuesday, and while they looked uncomfortable throughout, Jose Mourinho’s 3-5-2 experiment could be at least partly to blame.
It’s likely that Bailly and Lindelof will be played together in a back four in Man United’s Premier League opener against West Ham this weekend.
On this week’s episode of the Mixer Irish Football Podcast, we chat to former Bray Wanderers media officer Jillian Godsil, give our take on the ‘barstooler’ debate as well as review and preview the latest League of Ireland action.