Quick links

Premier League

Monday Focus: United's back four could lead them to the title

Manchester United's back four looks as though it could be the best in the league this season.

Manchester United were put under big pressure by Swansea City throughout the opening period of their 4-1 win in Wales, but what started that match as a worrying sign could turn out to be their biggest asset this season.

In the opening period of that match, Swansea looked like a team that had been in a season for a few weeks while it almost looked like extended pre-season for United’s back four.

However, once the calmness and security of goals helped the side, the back four actually looked very decent, strong, intelligent and capable of going the entire season in an impressive manner.

Moyes obviously decided not to gamble against using his most experienced partnership of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic through the centre, which turned out to be a good call.

Say what you like about their lack of pace, Ferdinand and Vidic read the game and react earlier than many other centre back partnerships in European football.

The impressive thing about how they played against Swansea is that initially, they showed the grittier side of their game, being very vocal and keeping everyone focused while the side was under pressure.

When things settled down, they seemed to have more confidence taking risks, with Vidic in particular ready to step out of the back four to get on the end of a header or to try and steal an interception.

Ferdinand covered for him, but considering that lack of pace, it was dangerous against the likes of Michu and Wilfried Bony who came on later in the game.

In terms of the full backs, there were a few examples where Patrice Evra looked like he was going to leave Vidic exposed again, which was a bad weakness to the Frenchman’s game last season, but for the large part, he seemed to have learned his lesson.

Evra also lacks that pace which means he can’t take as many risks at full back, he seemed to be aware of that, tucking in close to Vidic when Swansea had spells on the ball, moving out to press down the left when there were plenty of bodies back.

As for Phil Jones, he’s just a beast and looks comfortable in any position he’s asked to play across the United back four.

Defensively he looked fine but he doesn’t have the same punch going forward, which is provided by Rafael so the Brazilian shouldn’t have any worries about Jones keeping his right back slot for very long.

All in all one of United’s early weaknesses last season looks as though it could be one of their biggest strengths this season. Of course it’s impossible to judge after just one game but all of the early signs are good.

What did you make of United’s defensive performance?

image: © nasmac

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch