Originally Posted by VanHaaksbergen
To some extent .. City rotate defenders to a ridiculous extent however and had (have) the best defence in the league. 8 defenders putting in double-digit appearances last season, and only 3 putting in more appearances than Varane (very, very marginally - literally a couple more games). None of them - none - put in 30+ appearances let alone starts.
Bigger need is having players who can come in that fit the system. There's not a like-for-like replacement for Varane so the team typically looks shit without him in it (as do the results). We'll see how it goes without Lisandro. Fingers crossed.
Need both Varane/Lisandro to mount a title challenge but early as it is, that looks gone now anyway absent of full pts between now and City visit then a win in that.
I would say City are almost a unique exception, given the depth in quality of their squad, where they have 3 or 4 top players in multiple positions, such as centre-back, that can come in and rotate without a significant drop in quality.
There's not many other top teams across Europe (if any!) that wouldn't see a significant drop in quality if one of their first-choice centre-backs was out for a prolonged period of time.
A big difference in this regard between us and City is that the drop in quality between our first-choice centre-backs (Varane and Martinez) and the backups (Maguire, Lindelof and Shaw) is so steep. Exacerbating this, is the point you've identified around systems, as none of our backups can come in and effectively replicate the system of play that our first-choice centre-backs operate best in, i.e. ball-playing centre backs that are comfortable in possession and build attacks from deep. City, of course, have a squad in which every player is bought to fit the same system.
Be interesting to see who Ten Hag picks to replace Martinez, as I personally think Maguire is a better partner for Varane than Lindelof, whereas Lindelof has seemed a better partner for Martinez than Maguire has.