Manchester United’s Dreadful Defense Exposed in a Derby Defeat.

Manchester United’s Dreadful Defense Exposed in a Derby Defeat.

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07 Mar 2022
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Nick
Manchester City

Manchester City defeated the Red Devils 4-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, with the club’s under-fire captain struggling throughout.

Ralf Rangnick has been able to give statistics demonstrating that Manchester United’s defense is better under his supervision whenever he has been challenged about it in recent weeks.

However, no statistics can disguise what happened in Sunday’s Manchester derby.

Manchester City tore United apart at times in a 4-1 loss that dropped them out of the Premier League’s top four, a point behind Arsenal despite having played three games more than the Gunners.

The defensive performance by United was so poor that it begged the issue of whether they should rethink their summer recruitment priorities in order to strengthen their backline.

Even though Pep Guardiola’s team has dominated derbies in the past, even if United has won at the Etihad Stadium on several occasions, this was a performance that bordered on embarrassing by the end.

The home fans chanted “You’re f*cking sh*t” after Riyad Mahrez volleyed in from the edge of the area to make it 3-1, and to be fair, they were not wrong. United had made a strong start to the game.

Rangnick used a striker-less system without Cristiano Ronaldo, who was sidelined due to a hip ailment, with Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes acting as false nines.

Instead of the forwards going blank in Ronaldo’s absence, Rangnick will be left scratching his head as to why his team’s defense is so leaky.

Harry Maguire turned in one of his worst games in a United shirt, amid claims that his teammates questioned whether he should be in the lineup.

Rangnick had no option but to select his club captain because Raphael Varane was unavailable due to a positive Covid-19 test. But Maguire’s performance at the Etihad will do nothing to persuade any doubters that he is the answer for United at the back.

After Kevin De Bruyne scored his and City’s second goal of the afternoon, still photos showed United defenders sprawled across the pitch, with Maguire among them.

Maguire had embarrassed himself in the build-up, allowing the ball to pass through his legs after David de Gea had parried Phil Foden’s shot, allowing City to score.

Maguire lacked control, was immobile in his defense, slow to react, and rash at times. When Michael Oliver showed him a yellow card for unnecessarily dragging down De Bruyne on the break in the second half, several United fans hoped he was about to be sent out.

City are so good they do not need a helping hand to secure victory, but the rest of United’s backline seemed determined to assist.

In the build-up to City’s second goal, Victor Lindelof was undone by a magnificent piece of Foden talent, and the Sweden international looked nervous and slow close to Maguire. They don’t appear to be capable of bringing United back to the top anytime soon for a £110 million partnership.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka is in the same boat. Fred was so dissatisfied with the right-performance back’s that he could be seen clapping him repeatedly in the second half, either to encourage him or to try to get more out the ex-Crystal Palace man.

It didn’t work in either case. Guardiola anticipated United’s weakness down the right flank from the start, and it was there that City found their delight. Their first goal came from some wonderful interaction down that side, and they were toying with Wan-Bissaka by the second half.

Diogo Dalot must be wondering what he needs to do to get another chance after being beaten by Jack Grealish for the entire game.

It’s unlikely that this would be enough to save United. Only Southampton and Leicester City have conceded more goals in the Premier League this season, with Burnley in the relegation zone having only been penetrated 36 times.

As many concerns as there are up forward and in midfield to fix, it is becoming increasingly evident that defensive reinforcements are essential this summer.

In his pre-game press conference, Rangnick stated that United could learn from Liverpool and Manchester City by having a “clear transfer strategy.”

He couldn’t be more correct after seeing them lose four against City with a four-man defense that cost roughly £180 million.

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