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26th Sep 2020

Rio Ferdinand breaks down Manchester United’s defensive problems

The former Manchester United defender analysed the mistakes made in United's game against Palace last week in brutal detail

Reuben Pinder

Rio knows a thing or two about centre-back play

Manchester United’s season got off to the worst possible start last weekend, as they lost 3-1 to Crystal Palace. More worrying from a United point of view was that Palace fully deserved the win, regardless of the farcical penalty situation.

United’s downfall in that game came as a result of Palace exposing their defensive frailties with clever, calculated counter-attacks. Ahead of their second game of the season, against the other half of the M23 derby, former United captain Rio Ferdinand brutally analysed United’s problems in that game. The problems at centre-back were laid bare in a segment that will not have inspired any optimism among United fans.

“It was slow, it was cumbersome,” Ferdinand said.

Looking at the first goal, which came from a cross from Jeff Schlupp to the far post, Ferdinand was scathing in his analysis of both Victor Lindelöf, who was dragged out of position, and Harry Maguire, who failed to cover the space his partner had vacated.

“There is no way the ball should ever be getting in this area and the striker should be getting to the ball first, it’s impossible,” he said, highlighting the space in the channel behind the centre-back.

“Your centre-back partner is out there, defending one v one,” he said. “You as the other centre-half smell danger. Does Harry Maguire smell danger? I suggest not.”

“He ambles, he jogs, if he’s in there, he blocks that cross out straight away,” he added.

Moving on to the passage of play that led to Palace’s penalty, Ferdinand was critical of Maguire being dragged towards the ball, rather than being concerned with the space he was leaving behind him.

“My problem with this situation here, is Maguire is transfixed here. He’s just going to the man with the ball.

“You can stop that situation (giving away a penalty) at source.”

£85 million.