This weekend gone Manchester United once again failed in their defensive responsibilities. Despite carving Leicester City open at one end of the pitch they themselves were torn to shreds as they lost 5-3 at the King Power Stadium.
The likes of Marcos Rojo were poor while Jonny Evans seems a shadow of the player he was two years ago. Phil Jones has had his moments, but is perpetually injured and Chris Smalling is not looking cut out for this level. As for Tyler Blackett. He is talented, but young, naive and positionally inept - this United back-line is simply not good enough.
They really should have looked at the market for top quality defenders this summer with far more intensity than they did. The likes of Ezequiel Garay got away, as did Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala.
And you can compact the misery when you compare the statistics of the Manchester United defenders to those of Stoke City's Ryan Shawcross.
In 2008 United had to make a choice, Shawcross or Evans, and they went with the latter. They flogged the defender for just £2 million and he has since gone on to establish himself as a rock at the heart of Stoke's defence.
Here are the statistics...
|Team||Pos||Interception Won||Outfielder Block||Won Tackle||Duel Won||Aerial Won||Effective Clearance||Apps||Mins|
|Tyler Blackett||Man Utd||DF||15||0||4||18||8||27||5||443|
|Chris Smalling||Man Utd||DF||7||2||4||18||9||19||3||194|
|Phil Jones||Man Utd||DF||17||1||10||22||6||18||3||270|
|Jonny Evans||Man Utd||DF||3||4||4||16||6||14||3||210|
You can see that most of the attributes for this campaign so far are fairly even, except for when it comes to man-on-man defending - where Shawcross dominates the United players.
He is a defender first, a footballer second, and right now United would kill for a player of his ilk to sort things out at the back.
He may not be the most fashionable or sexy defender out there but sometimes every team just needs a pleyer who gets the job done. Ally Shawcross with a more ground savvy partner and who knows what that duo could achieve.
Add to that the fact he has barely missed a game through injury over the past seven seasons - and it looks like United made a mistake letting him go.