Former England and Manchester United defender, Rio Ferdinand, has stated that the Red Devils’ biggest issue this season has been their poor defence, with Jose Mourinho’s men already conceding 25 goals in 15 games in this season’s Premier League. And it’s a stat Ferdinand finds most distressful. The Red Devils boast of the sixth worst backline in the English topflight this season, and the club legend feels it’s a reason for the team’s decline. And following their 2-2 draw at home to Arsenal on Wednesday, Mourinho’s men dropped to eighth in the English topflight log.
In comparison, city rivals and league leaders Manchester City have conceded just seven goals in 15 games while Liverpool in second place have conceded one less in as many matches. Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, who complete the top four, have each conceded 16 and 13 goals respectively. Teams such as Brighton, Watford, West Ham United, Newcastle United and Crystal Palace who all occupy the bottom half of the league table, have all conceded less goals than Man. United. And Ferdinand believes the situation can be blamed on the constant rotation of the starting line-up especially in defence.
“For all the best teams in the world, before their team sheet comes out you could name like nine or ten players who would start easily. During my era, the fans already knew that [Nemanja] Vidic and I were going to be in the central defence. This was applicable in other departments of the team, we knew ourselves and this created a bond among the players as we gave the desired results.” Ferdinand added, “When you play together all the time, it’s like a marriage and when you are together all the time, it becomes second nature and you create a solid relationship. That is a relationship I don’t see in Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United and that is the biggest problem.”
Mourinho’s defensive tinkering is summed up in Manchester United’s last two Premier League games which saw the coach use a three-man defence comprising Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo in the starting line-up just days after using a five-man defence comprising Phil Jones, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay, Luke Shaw and Ashley Young against Southampton. Also, only Smalling has started in more than two of the last four games for United with Viktor Lindelof and Antonio Valencia also starting games during the period.