| 3.6°C Dublin

sol destroying On the evidence of loss to Leicester, I fear for Man United next week against rampant Liverpool

Close

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer trudges off the pitch following defeat at Leicester

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer trudges off the pitch following defeat at Leicester

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer trudges off the pitch following defeat at Leicester

Oh Lord, can one man make that much of a difference – when he has only played a handful of games for Manchester United.

The absence of injured centre-half Raphael Varane yesterday left Manchester United’s defence looking like a comedy of errors as they fell to a shocking defeat against Leicester City.

Never mind the 4-2 scoreline, it was only the brilliance of David de Gea in goal for United that stopped the home team winning this 6-2 or even 7-2.

One player shouldn’t make that much of a difference, not when his absence means United can actually restore their first-choice back five of last season – they ought to have been well used to playing with each other.

But Harry Maguire was miles off the pace. The suspicion was that United rushed him back to first-team action once they knew Varane was out for the next five weeks or so.

If that is the case, it is a terrible reflection on where Eric Bailly stands in the defensive pecking order at Old Trafford.

Surely Bailly would have been a better bet than Maguire ambling out on the pitch, clearly not right.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka had an afternoon to forget too. I like this kid, I think he has a big future.

Close

Manchester United's Victor Lindelof, Jesse Lingard and Luke Shaw applaud the fans

Manchester United's Victor Lindelof, Jesse Lingard and Luke Shaw applaud the fans

Manchester United's Victor Lindelof, Jesse Lingard and Luke Shaw applaud the fans

But it is a basic rule of defending that, if you decide to go to ground, you must win the ball no matter what.

By going to ground you take yourself out of the game and leave your team-mates short. In the circumstances, you must get the ball.

Aaron didn’t do that in the build-up to Leicester City’s third goal, the one that restored their lead.

As I wrote, I like him as a player, but this is the second time in this still young season that the right-back has let his team-mates and club down, the other being the needless sending off against Young Boys of Berne.

You can’t blame Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for the defensive tomfoolery yesterday, you can blame the manager for the constant changing of formations and players.

All that leads to is players pointing at each other, unsure of what they are supposed to be doing.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

Who is to go out, who is to cover, who is to drive forward, who is to sit in and protect?

All instead of having well-drilled units of the team.

It’s all a bit of a mess for United right now and Ole will be feeling the heat.

Yes, of course, the team will lift itself for next Sunday at home to Liverpool. That goes with being a Manchester United player.

But on yesterday’s evidence, both in Watford and in Leicester, you have to fear for United in seven days time with that defence up against Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, with Diogo Jota to come off the bench.

There’s no doubt the manager is under pressure, but he will be given a bit more time by the Board.

The money is spent now, though, as I argued here last week, I wonder does he wish he’d spent the Ronaldo money on a defensive midfielder and a player of the calibre of Youri Tielemans, who was wearing blue yesterday.

He’s just the sort of player Manchester United are lacking right now.

Close

 Cristiano Ronaldo drew a blank at Leicester

Cristiano Ronaldo drew a blank at Leicester

Cristiano Ronaldo drew a blank at Leicester

Ronaldo will score lots of goals for United this season, and he’ll sell lots of shirts.

Will he help them win the Premier League or the Champions League?

If he doesn’t this great, great player, one of the greatest ever, will look like a vanity buy.

A purchase made to stop the great man signing for another club.

United went down that road a few years ago with Alexis Sanchez and that proved to be an utter disaster

As I said, Ronaldo will score lots of goals for United this season, and he’ll sell lots of shirts.

But will he help United win the Premier League or the Champions League?

I’d actually give him, and United, a chance of lifting the latter trophy.

It’s a series of one-off matches where you just need to get a good result and a genius like Ronaldo will have the other team changing things around to combat him

But there’s no sign that United have anything like the consistency that would be needed to win the major domestic honour.

They are just not doing it week, after week already, it’s a good performance on Saturday and then one like this the next weekend.

And you know that Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City are not going to drop many points in this campaign, unless they are playing each other.

They are just going to knock out win after win.

It’s hard to be casting such doubts about United after only eight league games so far this season.

But you cannot ignore the evidence in front of your eyes.

The steely determination that comes with being champions is not evident in this United group.

Not in the way the ball just flew across the face of their goal for Leicester’s tap-in fourth goal of the day.

No defender went to take command of that situation – it was very disappointing to see.

Just as the whole afternoon was a big let-down.

Leicester are a more than decent side, but United made them look better than they are yesterday and that is the bit that must stick in the craw of every United supporter.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Top Videos





Privacy