Against Young Boys, Jose Mourinho teamed up his two young defenders, Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw.
And from what we witnessed in United’s 3-0 Champions League victory, they could well be the ones operating at Old Trafford for the next decade.
Last season, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young had the full-back positions all sewn up. But the converted wingers are both now 33.
And while they are not about to be sent to the Stretford scrapheap, Mourinho now has a duo of actual defenders, whose combined age is 24 years less than their seniors.
The United boss hailed Dalot, 19, as “the best young full-back in Europe” when he signed him from Porto for £19million in the summer. He only made his senior debut a year ago, one of just eight first-team appearances for Porto, including a goalless draw at Liverpool in the Champions League last 16.
Fans have had to wait to watch Dalot, as he arrived at Old Trafford with a knee injury. But the Portuguese’s debut in Bern was a memorable one, as he marauded down the wing at will, showing power and purpose which defied his teenage years.
On the left, Shaw, 23, is finally coming of age in his fifth season following his £27m move from Southampton. He has already ousted Young as United’s first-choice on that flank, as well as earning an England recall.
And his displays led Red Devils legend Paul Scholes to claim on Wednesday night that Shaw “could easily become the best left-back in the world”.
For two years, Mourinho has used Shaw as something of a public punch bag – so much so he has even been accused of bullying the former Saints starlet. But after his Switzerland showing, the Special One was keen to shower Shaw and new boy Dalot with equal praise.
Mourinho said: "Everyone could see Diogo’s potential. He’s a strong personality and everyone could see he's a 19-year-old player that has more than ten years to play for Manchester United.
“But I also want to be nice to Luke Shaw because I think Diogo and Luke played very, very well and our danger came from both of them.
"They had fantastic movement, depth, crosses, assists. They were involved in the most dangerous actions and they defended well, so both were very, very good.”
For tomorrow’s (Sat) visit of Wolves, Dalot will likely make way for Valencia, who was not risked in Bern for fears about how his knee would react on the plastic pitch. Yet he is set to get his first Old Trafford run-out in the Carabao Cup against Derby on Tuesday. And it will surely not be long before Dalot is seriously challenging for Valencia’s permanent Premier League place.
The teen said: “It’s good for the team there’s competition. That’s what every player likes. My job is to give the coach a difficult decision.
“I was happy to make my debut in the team, especially in the Champions League because it’s a special competition. Now I am ready to start my season and I’m hungry for more.”
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