Manchester United’s defence has come under heavy scrutiny in the past few days after letting a two goal lead slip against FC Basel.
Whilst Phil Jones’ mistakes can be put down to inexperience and Antonio Valencia’s to being unfamiliar with the right back position, the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra have been afforded little leeway, with people singling them out for the roles they played in Basel’s comeback.
Despite the blip, stand in captain Patrice Evra is ready to draw a line under it and ensure that United get back to instilling fear into opponents, starting with Norwich as he told the club’s official website:
“When they come to Old Trafford they have to be scared and know they will not enjoy their football and they will find it hard.
“It’s a responsibility for everyone – not only the defenders and the goalkeeper, but the midfielders and the strikers as well. We have to press more like we did in the first few games and not let other teams have time to play.
“It’s been difficult [having a changing back four], but when you play for Manchester United you can’t look for excuses.
“It’s not difficult to get the balance right [of attacking and defending]. None of our games have been easy, but we made them look easy at the beginning of the season because we worked hard, we were compact and everything about our shape was right.
“I think if we just go back to that we’re going to resolve the problem. It’s not a disaster, it’s just a good warning and a wake-up call.
“We are beautiful when we make the game easy, but we can be ugly if we don’t make the effort and do what we need to do! We have to make sure on Saturday we defend like a team, stay compact and try to keep a clean sheet.”
The Basle result was down to complacency, naivety and carelessness. However it might be the best wake up call we could have asked for. Anyone being honest will admit that although all the goals have been great, we have a problem defending as a team. This is a surprise because over the last 4-5 years we have been strong defensively.
Phil Jones has been brilliant since joining but he would have learnt a lot on Tuesday. He played with naivety and did not play the discipline you need in Europe. However these errors are to be expected from a young 19 year old. I was more concern about how poor Ferdinand, Evra and Carrick played. They are the guys who needed to play with calmness and help the younger players.
There was a lot of talk of a creative midfielder being required, but it looks like we need to be scouting for a defensive midfielder with strong box to box qualities. I would love Walter Gargano to be signed, but his age and the fact he plays for Napoli would make that transfer difficult. However we need to scout for a similar kind of player to join the squad. We should in my opinion sign a player around 27 years of age to add some experience to the squad.