The early part of the 21st century was viewed as a golden era for English football, with the Premier League repeatedly delivering some hugely thrilling moments.

The rivalry between Manchester United and Arsenal was central to the narrative as the two clubs engaged in hostilities around that time.

Mikael Silvestre and Lauren played key roles for their respective clubs on their way to filling their trophy cabinets with winners’ medals.

Silvestre joined United from Inter Milan United, immediately making himself a fan favourite as he rejected Liverpool to sign for the club.

He subsequently helped the Red Devils win seven major trophies including four Premier League titles during his time at Old Trafford.

One of Silvestre’s biggest attributes was his recovery pace, something that he believes would translate well to the modern game.

In a recent interview with Betway, the Frenchman discussed the pressure on defenders and how things have changed since he hung up his boots.

“If you switch off, you’re done,” said Silvestre. “You can’t rest like strikers or midfielders can.

“It wouldn’t be a problem for me to play now, but it is harder for defenders to flourish nowadays.”

Former Arsenal star Lauren was originally signed as a midfielder in 2000, but was converted into a full-back by then-manager Arsene Wenger.

He eventually got to grips with the position, and played an integral role in the Gunners’ famous ‘Invincibles’ season in 2003/04.

Lauren contributed to Arsenal winning five major trophies during his time with the club, and he is now widely viewed by their fans as a club legend.

The former Cameroon international says that he initially found it difficult at the back, and admits that defending has evolved since his playing days.

“I had to change my position and I had a few problems defending in the beginning, especially when the ball was on the other side – I was caught ball-watching a lot,” Lauren said.

“But now, they are asking defenders for more things. We have to readapt ourselves to the new era, although not everything from today’s game is fantastic.

“But to be the best now, you have to combine the best of the most traditional skills and the best of the modern-day skills. Evolution is good.”

While Lauren is comfortable with how defending has changed over the past few years, Silvestre is not convinced the modern way of doing things is all it is cracked up to be.

Defenders are now required to build attacks and maintain a high line to help their team press, but this often leads to them making errors.

Traditional defensive skills such as sticking your head where it hurts and putting your body on the line appear to have been lost along the way.

Silvestre believes that the change in tactical approach is not beneficial to defenders and questioned whether coaches should be rethinking their strategy.

“The game is not in their favour,” he said. “Some people would go as far as saying the art of defending is gone.”




------------
The RoM Manchester United 2021-22 season preview is now available for just £6. It includes articles from the country's best football writers about our expectations for the season ahead and our brightest talents, as well as proposed transfer business and which youth players to keep an eye out for. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.
amazon smaller