Alexander Buttner completed his transfer to Manchester United on a £4m deal after completing his medical on Monday as the Red Devils started their Premier League campaign with a loss to Everton.Buttner followed Dutch international striker Robin Van Persie in signing this month as Ferguson continues to refresh an ageing squad of footballers.
The signing of Buttner, an attacking left back is an indication that Evra’s place could be under threat after struggling through parts of last season. The loan departure of Fabio to Queen Park Rangers seemed to have opened a opportunity for the media to link Manchester United to full backs in the Premier League such as Leighton Baines and Neil Taylor. But I feel that Ferguson wasn’t prioritising on a full back with Johnny Evans fully capable of playing left back as he has done for his country Northern Ireland. Buttner was signed as he has so far looked a modern type full back early in his career.
Buttner typifies the modern style full back. He has the athletic attributes in his locker to give him the physical edge against opposition both going forward and defensively. He also contributes goals on occasion, scoring five goals for Vitesse Arnhem last season. But perhaps most importantly of all is that he has a technical consistency in forward positions where Evra and Fabio have been hesitant at times.
Former Manchester United full back – turned TV pundit Gary Neville made an interesting point on Monday Night Football yesterday when analysing how Premier League teams have become more possession based and less gung-ho in attack. He analysed the space many teams occupy when attacking – using Man City in this case. Most of the players on both sides occupied the space in and around the box leaving spaces out wide for the full backs to attack. Neville referred full backs as the new wingers of the modern game.Ferguson has always kept up to date with new trends emerging in football and maybe he sees this as the time to sign a replacement for Evra who can replicate the surging performances from the Evra of old.
In saying that, Buttner will need to improve defensively if he is to confirm his place in the United side and continue to cover the gaps he leaves when racing forward in attack. His slight frame and 5″7″ height is a concern when paired with a well built winger and his height will be a concern when defending crosses in difficult games such as the fixture against Everton on Monday night where the aerial presence of Fellaini and Jelavic troubled United’s back four.
Buttner is one of Ferguson’s few Dutch signings as manager with the standout names being Jaap Stam, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and the controversial signing of Robin Van Persie from archaic rivals Arsenal. Buttner hails from Doetincham where professional footballer Glenn Loovens was also born.
Buttner had a five year spell at the established Ajax academy but moved to Vitesse Arnhem to getting his playing career up and running. Impressing for the Dutch outfit he earned a call up to the 36 man provisional Euro 2012 squad for Holland but failed to make the cut. A proposed move to newly promoted Southampton broke down before Manchester United upped their interest.
Arriving on a five year contract – Buttner spoke of his joy for signing for Manchester United: “Joining Manchester United is one of the best days of my life.It’s a team I’ve admired for many years now and I can’t wait to join my new teammates”.
Ferguson praised the Dutchman on arrival – “Alexander is one of the best full backs in Europe and we’re delighted to sign him. He’s someone we have been watching for a while now. He gives us some really exciting options in that position”.
Written by Daire Kilkelly
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