Manchester United used to pride themselves on their defence. Strong partnerships formed the basis of championship winning sides. But now, things are different.Their ageing defence has become a big problem for the defending champions, and they must fix this if they are to turn around their season.
United's defence has been fragile all season and has conceded late goals which has proved to be a major blows in their bid for a Champions League spot. The back four play like they could concede a goal at any moment. It's really a shame for the Old Trafford outfit when a striker (Wayne Rooney) has to retreat back and help out. With the ageing trio of Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra likely to depart in the summer, the Red Devils' will have a huge hole to fill.
The other defensive options - Rafael, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Alexander Buttner aren't good enough to help United challenge for the Premier League title or the Champions League.
Starting off with Rafael, the Brazilian looks nowhere near the standard he displayed last season and has been plagued with injuries this season. He might be good partnering Antonio Valencia in the attack, but, he is a defender and his first priority should be defending, something he is not excelling in.
Next up, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans. As good as Jonny Evans was last season, I see him being overtaken by Jones or a new signing next season. Smalling among the three is the most naturally gifted defender, but can be quite clumsy at the back.
Phil Jones, the jack of all trades, hasn't been used by David Moyes in the central defence and has become more of a defensive midfielder. Though his preferred role is centre-back, I see his future in the defensive midfield area until and unless Man United find the perfect replacement.
As for Alexander Buttner, the Dutchman was brought in as cover and to provide some competition to Patrice Evra last season. He, like many modern day full backs, likes to get forward and run down the wing, but the problem lies at his willingness to get back when he wanders up field and loses possession. His positional awareness is poor as well.
I believe Man Utd need to buy a central defender, a left back and maybe a right back, because with the defenders Moyes has at his disposal currently, he certainly won't be adding any titles to the trophy cabinet. Some worthy replacements and ones that I feel would improve the team are: Eliaquim Mangala, Séamus Coleman, Luke Shaw and Fábio Coentrão.
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