Centre Backs who can head the ball

Discussion in 'Manchester United Forum' started by golden_blunder, Jun 8, 2018.

  1. Jun 8, 2018
    #1

    golden_blunder Site admin. Manchester United fan Staff

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    equally important as to passing the ball out is having a CB who can get his head on the ball defensively and offensively

    We currently have Lindelof and Bailly who aren’t good at it (being kind). Jones and rojo are ok but should be better considering their size.

    Smalling is the only one we have that is genuinely good in the air. Surely this should be a basic requirement for a CB playing in the PL?
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2018
  2. Jun 8, 2018
    #2

    Pogue Mahone Poster of the year 2008

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    Ok is harsh. They're both very good in the air.
  3. Jun 8, 2018
    #3

    Giggsy PO Wimbledon Prediction Champion 09

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    Smalling is excellent header of the ball (defensively) and very good in the attack.
  4. Jun 8, 2018
    #4

    Trizy Full Member

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    Smalling is excellent in the air. Maybe that's why he's brain dead though, too many solid headers.

    Ya it should be a basic requirement. But it's an underrated skill both defending and attacking to be fair. Not as easy as just jumping and throwing your head forward.
  5. Jun 8, 2018
    #5

    Rossa Full Member

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    You really think Jones is good in the air? The only player I can think of who is worse at clearing the ball from the 18 yard box is Matic. Smalling is very good in the air; his passing with a header is mostly superior to his feet, and he is good at clearing the ball as well.
  6. Jun 8, 2018
    #6

    golden_blunder Site admin. Manchester United fan Staff

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    Possibly but they should be better. They should be adding more goals and assists offensively
  7. Jun 8, 2018
    #7

    Pogue Mahone Poster of the year 2008

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    I do. He didn't miss a single header for England last night.
  8. Jun 8, 2018
    #8

    Red Indian Chief Torn Rubber Thus says Kemo

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    Offensively they could be more aggressive. But they are good in the air. But our set piece taking leaves a lot to be desired
  9. Jun 8, 2018
    #9

    Kag Full Member

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    I agree. Bailly and Lindelof and dreadful and Jones - although good - gets caught out when a striker peels off diagonally.

    Smalling is absolutely excellent at this in a defensive sense. Few better in world football.

    Heading the ball is an understated quality though, you're right.
  10. Jun 8, 2018
    #10

    Mcking Full Member

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    Jones is good but Smalling is class on the air. Bailly and Lindelof are quite poor. Rojo is ok.
  11. Jun 8, 2018
    #11

    Rifer Full Member

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    Smalling: Best one we've got. Very good defensively. Attacking though, hit and miss, often meet the ball but poor accuracy. Aerial threat is there.

    Rojo
    : Good (defensively, attack the ball not waiting for it), hit and miss (attacking during set-piece, similarly often reach the ball but accuracy is just bad).

    Jones: Okay defensively (seen him lose aerial duels), terrible on attacks.

    Bailly: Actually not bad attacking set-piece delivery. Strong jump power attacking the ball. Terrible accuracy though. Defensively hit and miss, but can get the job done.

    Lindelof: Average at both.. terrible actually.

    I'm quite sure Blind is efficient enough defensively dealing with crosses and set-piece delivery, get the job done nullifying his marker. Don't remember much him losing aerial duels during open play and free kick into the box. During corner, he's in charge of one of he two poles iirc.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
  12. Jun 8, 2018
    #12

    ChaddyP Full Member

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    Seems like a useful tool these days other than a basic requirement. Which is weird
  13. Jun 8, 2018
    #13

    Amar__ Not so Full Member

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    Smalling has more goals than some of our forwards and is literally our only threat on set pieces, I have no idea how can you criticise him for that.

    Jones on the other hand is terrible in the air, he isn't even getting into attack on set pieces, and is hardly dominant against any forward in the air like defenders should generally be. Closest he got to opposition goal was when he was taking corners under van Gaal.
  14. Jun 8, 2018
    #14

    Amar__ Not so Full Member

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    Only six of our players scored more goals than Smalling this year, it's ridiculous that people are actually even mentioning him in this thread :lol:
  15. Jun 8, 2018
    #15

    el3mel Full Member

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    Jones is average at best in the air. Smalling is our only CB who is good at heading the ball and that's why he ended up playing the most out of everyone.
  16. Jun 8, 2018
    #16

    rcoobc Not as crap as eferyone thinks

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    The only time I remember Jones heading the ball is when it was on the ground
  17. Jun 8, 2018
    #17

    OnlyTwoDaSilvas Gullible

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    Smalling could be a bit better at directing headers in attacking situations. He's great at winning the initial header though. Gets a lot of power behind them and makes good headed clearances.

    Agree on Bailly though. It's often as if he jumps too high and goes over the ball, heading it downwards. Needs to work on his timing because he's got an outrageous leap.
  18. Jun 8, 2018
    #18

    King Andow New Member

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    Smalling being great in the air is a myth, he often gets caught with his shite positioning defending, like Sevilla away last season. And he misses a lot of sitters in the attack too. We don't have any CB good at it.
  19. Jun 8, 2018
    #19

    RedPed Full Member

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    Clutching at straws to perpetuate the Smalling myths!
  20. Jun 8, 2018
    #20

    Aloysius's Back 3 Full Member

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    I think it's just that Football is played much more on the ground these days in comparison to the 90's at least. Barcelona drilled it in to everyone's head that even if you were not playing possession - there was no more of an efficient way of playing football that on the floor.

    In particular It was the introduction of Messi playing as a false 9 - playing away from the central defenders which turned clubs desire of centre backs to a more agile approach. At that time it Ramos & pepe was the only defender who could even get foot on Messi. Heading the ball away was neither a strength nor much of a weakness.

    At the same time or couple years before we were also generating hype ourselves with Ronaldo & inverted wingers etc - tactics that are much more common now across divisions - a tactic which kept the central defence away from the main threats on the opposition side.

    The typical number 9 target man requires much more of a target man like defender - ultimately the games moved on from a target man being a core of every team to merely just another available tactic.
  21. Jun 8, 2018
    #21

    Sandikan aka sex on the beach

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    What's all these comments about Bailly not being able to head it, and being ranked down with Lindelof?
    I've rarely been concerned about Bailly, but pretty much always with Lindelof.

    The people who try and dismiss Smalling as "Ok" show that a lot of people have their view without watching games though
  22. Jun 8, 2018
    #22

    Mcking Full Member

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    Yup, Jones and Rojo are the ones you'd class as 'ok'.
    Smalling is world class on the air. Few players are better at heading the ball away than him. He's just too dominant. Bailly on the other hand is strong and has a great leap, but his judgement and accuracy is usually poor, sort of like Lukaku. Lindelof comes across as a weakling and hardly ever contest for headers.
  23. Jun 8, 2018
    #23

    Rossa Full Member

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    But he’s not been great for United.
  24. Jun 8, 2018
    #24

    golden_blunder Site admin. Manchester United fan Staff

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    Fair enough, I’ve just rewatched some bits of matches to check Smalling. I’ve done him a disservice. Will amend OP. The point remains on the others though. I’m amazed how we haven’t conceded more goals from corners etc
  25. Jun 8, 2018
    #25

    golden_blunder Site admin. Manchester United fan Staff

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    I don’t really agree. Certainly not for the PL where the likes of Deeney, Giroud, crouch, etc where all plying their trade this season.

    Think of it this way, Jose used to bring felliani on to protect a lead when teams where getting lots of corners, free kicks etc.

    It’s still a requirement
  26. Jun 8, 2018
    #26

    Theonas Full Member Scout

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    As @Aloysius's Back 3 points out, the focus has simply shifted in terms of attacks to the point where heading ability is not as vital as it once was. Teams are not sending crosses in as much as they used to. Obviously you still need to have dominant players aerially especially if you don't control possession the way City do for example. But other qualities are more emphasized nowadays and it is simply unrealistic to expect defenders to be good at everything. We, like every other team have to accept that we are going to have some weaknesses because there is no one out there who is brilliant at every facet of defending. The trick is to make sure opponents do not get in a position where they can exploit them.
  27. Jun 8, 2018
    #27

    Skills Snitch

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    Baily and Jones have the opposite problems to each other.

    Jones can't seem to get enough elevation against anyone of size, and Baily just has really poor judgement/anticipation despite a good leap.
  28. Jun 8, 2018
    #28

    Tom Foster New Member

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    I don’t think our centre-backs winning headers is a massive priority in today’s game. Smalling does a good job though the odd time we are under aerial bombardment.
    For me, Gary Pallister was our best. I used to love watching him mopping up long balls, when teams tried to find their front men, when there were a lot of 6 foot plus strikers in our league at that time.
    I would rather have 2 centre backs like Hansen and Lawrenson who read the games well, and between them snuffed out any danger by working as a team.
    Buchan and McQueen were not far behind them.
  29. Jun 9, 2018
    #29

    Aloysius's Back 3 Full Member

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    In my opinion It's certainly not absent but for every Deeney there has been a Zaha, for a Crouch there is a Gabriel jesus. There is Firminho who plays as a false 9 who also plays with inverted forwards.

    There is a martial & Rashford at ours with tonnes of potential ability to do good here themselves upfront playing the game on the floor.

    The biggest thing though is that the target man that do play these days are arguably better with their feet, in control as well as passing & creating like Giroud, Kane and Lukaku. Lukaku is arguably better with his feet than any ball abdomen up - again arising the overall problem that balls in the air is less efficient way of playing.

    Anyway I think smalling is one of the best heading defenders no doubt - but there is no need for 2 defenders to have the same core qualities; one defender that is dominant in the air will be enough. My two favorite partnerships in recent years - Vidic was flying around everywhere with his head whilst ri0 was much better on the floor. (not saying he didn't win a header!)

    Recently my favourite partnership was when Smalling was next to blind - a player that played the game on the floor - which is something smalling lacks & he benefited from it by dominating the air.

    Put smalling next to bailly or Jones - one of those 3 ends up looking shaky because we become too dominant on the air whilst looking weak on the floor both defensively & attacking.
  30. Jun 9, 2018
    #30

    POF Full Member

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    Centre backs being good in the air is as important now as it ever was. Set pieces at both ends of the pitch are crucial and often decide major games.

    United are utterly useless from set pieces because they don't have players who are good at attacking the ball in the air.
  31. Jun 9, 2018
    #31

    El Jefe Full Member

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    Bailly has the tools to be a good header of the ball. He's got a great leap and is aggressive, it's just his heading technique is poor. With a bit of coaching he could be outstanding at this. Lindelof on the other hand just seems to timid to overcome his weakness in the air.

    Agree with most here that Jones is ok to good in the air while Smalling is one of the best in the world.
  32. Jun 9, 2018
    #32

    2cents Full Member

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    :lol: Can’t believe he’s been with us seven years now.
  33. Jun 9, 2018
    #33

    Ødegaard formerly MrEriksen Scout

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    Smalling might be a great header of the ball, but he loses his man on defensive set-pieces badly and desperately tries to compensate with using his arms.
    He should be better though, seems to just be a focus-issue (focusing on man instead of the ball).
  34. Jun 9, 2018
    #34

    Steven Seagull Full Member

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    They are all turd. Jones is aggressive and looks good when we are in control. Smalling is good when it’s 1v1 but move him around a couple of yards and it’s goodnight Vienna. The rest are shit
  35. Jun 9, 2018
    #35

    cyril C Full Member

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    I would think OK is a fair assessment to Jones and Rojo. When not challenged Rojo is good but how often you get such luxury? Jones is physically good but often mis-read the situation and lost his marker. So he is no way good.
  36. Jun 9, 2018
    #36

    Snow Somewhere down the lane, a licky boom boom down

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    Smalling is excellent at getting his head to meet the ball but he's awful at controlling its direction. He'd be scoring 5 goals a season in the league easily if he knew how to steer the ball with his head. He's one of the best in the world at dealing with high balls in open play.

    If we had a good aggressive defender in the opposition box and someone that consistently takes good corners then we'd score 10 more goals in the league easily. It's an area that we could improve without it really affecting us in any way tactically (assuming the player who's good at corners fits).
  37. Jun 9, 2018
    #37

    meamth Full Member

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    :lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol:

    Thank you. That was hilarious.
  38. Jun 9, 2018
    #38

    StonedhamsterZA Full Member

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    It’s all well and good to be able to get to the ball, but positionally - especially in defense - I feel Smalling is suspect.

    I think these two are related, as we saw a number of times this season with defending set pieces where he’s ended up on the ground, or pulling a player down, because the opponent has created space or moved away.

    Now the OP didn’t specifically mention heading while attacking, and for me, I’d prioritize a CB being able to get the ball away from DDG, than one being able to chip in with a goal.

    Both would be great, but hey, we can’t have a team of Ramos’s (thank god).
  39. Jun 9, 2018
    #39

    Tosicsleftpeg Full Member

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    To echo others Smalling is a fantastic header of the ball and although he lacks in some areas but I really rate him in the air.
  40. Jun 9, 2018
    #40

    amolbhatia50k Sneaky bum time

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    Jones and Rojo are good in the air. Not brilliant but definitely strong aerially.

    Smalling is immense in this respect though. And I agree that it is hugely important which is why I wouldn't let Smalling go. His highest level, especially as a pure defender, is higher than any of our CBs have shown so far. On his day he can make quality forwards look average.