Manchester United's centre-back pairing of the experienced Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand were heavily criticised for their role in Manchester City's 4-1 victory at the weekend.

The duo have started all six of Manchester United's competitive games in the Premier League and in Europe so far.

David Moyes has opted to stick with the central defensive partnership that had served his predecessor so well since Vidic arrived at Old Trafford in January 2006.

Vidic and Ferdinand have won five Premier League titles, three League Cups and a Champions League during their seven-year spell at the heart of Manchester United's defence.

However it may be time for the previously solid partnership of Vidic and Ferdinand to be broken up.

Moyes decided to hand a Jonny Evans his first start of the season alongside Chris Smalling.

Both players put in outstanding displays, by minimising the threat of Liverpool's forward line which consisted of Luis Suarez, Victor Moses and the in-form Daniel Sturridge.

Smalling had previously been shunted out at right-back to deputise for the injured Rafael - however the former Fulham defender has shown that he is far better at centre-back.

The 23-year-old was signed by the aforementioned Ferguson in January 2010 after he impressed the Scotsman during his first few appearances for Fulham.

Manchester United beat off competition from Premier League rivals Arsenal for his signature and Smalling was quickly lauded as the eventual successor to Ferdinand for both England and the Red Devils.

Smalling's career has since progressed smoothly - but at a slow pace due to the likes of Vidic, Ferdinand and Evans being ahead of him in the pecking order.

He has won two Premier League titles during his time at Old Trafford - averaging 29 games for United over his first three full seasons at the club.

Smalling deserves a chance to have a solid run at centre-back for United over the next few months.

At 23, Smalling needs regular games to realise his potential.

If Moyes doesn't worm the England international into the team now, then Smalling may have to depart Old Trafford - which would surely come back to haunt the Premier League champions in the long run.

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