Football

Manchester United attack saves defensive failures

The lack of leadership at the back has left United exposed (©GettyImages)
The lack of leadership at the back has left United exposed (©GettyImages).

On a sunny afternoon where Manchester United's offensive capabilities shone bright, it sure was not enough to cover the much left to be desired defensive frailties and potholes in the team's back line.

Goals from all three strikers Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez gave United the much needed win at Old Trafford on Saturday, but for how long can United keep up the "Come back Kings" act?

Having won the league last season by numerous comeback wins, United have to put a stop to this bad habit if they ever hope to reach the pinnacle of the Premier League this season - let alone a respectable top three spot.

The absence of a strong commanding presence in the back four has left United's defensive show much to be desired. Had it not been for goalkeeper David de Gea, the scoreline could and would have been much worse. Club captain Nemanja Vidic's absence has indeed exposed United's inability to coordinate a decent defence.

Apart from left back Patrice Evra, the other three defenders did not have a good game - not because they are poor technically or tactically, but perhaps there is a deeper reason behind their poor form against Stoke. Neither Phil Jones nor Jonny Evans has had much practice and experience in organising and leading the back four.

In previous season's when senior defenders Rio Ferdinand or Vidic were absent, they had the luxury of playing in front of legendary goal keeper Edwin van der Sar who made it a point to keep things neat and tidy at the back.

With de Gea yet to mature in terms of command and control, these defenders were left without leadership and direction, which is what led to poor errors of judgement during the match and dire consequences on the squad.

Signing an experienced goal keeper would only serve to alienate the outstanding de Gea, thus perhaps United should be looking into bringing in one world class central defender who would be able to play alongside any of the other three younger players and control the defence in a way Vidic or Ferdinand would be able to.

Seeing as how the two senior centre-backs are on the decline, it would be wise to make a move for a defender at his peak and who will be able to provide and inspire confidence and stability amongst the back four which is what is lacking at the moment.

Again, I reiterate the point that the aforementioned players are in no way inferior or poor players - however what they do need is someone they can look to alongside them who has experience in leading and organising the defence in order for United to build a solid stronghold at the back.

Flashback to a time when Ferdinand and Vidic were in their prime, United's wins were based on a strong defence. With players keeping the faith in their defenders, they were able to go all out in ruthless attacks. The present situation could not be more different as the United attackers seek to cover up for the mistakes of their peers at the back.

United were lucky that substitutes Adnan Januzaj and Hernandez were able to make a significant impact which eventually won them the game. However, David Moyes should not be looking to rely too heavily on such a young player lest the pressure gets to him and should perhaps look to address the real problems in his team.

If a team which was sitting at 16th spot in the EPL table could exploit their weaknesses, United fans should shudder to think of what could happen should they face well performing teams in the top four.

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Manchester United

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