Date published: Thursday 29th October 2020 10:47
Rio Ferdinand is not convinced that Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof are a strong enough combination to bring major trophies to Manchester United.
There wasn’t a problem for the central defensive pairing on Wednesday night when United blasted RB Leipzig 5-0. Marcus Rashford was the star of the show with a hat-trick.
And they also kept Chelsea out in a lacklustre 0-0 draw at Old Trafford last weekend.
But the duo played together when United shipped five goals in their opening two Premier League games. They were the 3-1 home defeat by Crystal Palace and 3-2 win at Brighton.
And Maguire played the full 90 minutes – this time alongside Eric Bailly – when United were thrashed 6-1 at home by Tottenham.
But Ferdinand, one of United’s standout central defenders in the modern era, remains dubious that they have the desired quality. And he’s particularly concerned when the duo are up against pace.
Talking about the Maguire-Lindelof pairing, he told BT Sport: “Is it good enough? I’d probably say no, if you’re trying to win the top competitions.
“Yes, last season they had a good defensive record. But I just see moments in games where they get opened up, they get physically dominated at times, especially in terms of pace. Especially if their protection isn’t what you’d expect it to be if the game opens up a little bit.
“If the game opens up and they’re on the halfway line and they’re playing one-v-one or two-v-two, then I fear for my life in that situation.
“If the team shape is fine and it’s all set up properly, then they look a decent pairing.”
Scholes agrees with Ferdinand over protection
Another United legend, Paul Scholes, also has his doubts about Maguire and Lindelof.
But he agrees that having adequate protection in front of them is the key. And that means having Fred and Scott McTominay providing cover.
“When they have the two (Fred and McTominay) in front of them, they look different,” Scholes said.
“They had that little bit of protection that’s helped them. Not all of them (need it).
“You’re a defender for a reason. You’re supposed to be okay one-on-one. Sometimes it can take away the attacking side of the team which it has done in the last couple of games, especially against Chelsea on Saturday.
“Fred and McTominay have definitely made them look better players, and they’ll prefer that.”
Fred impressed against Leipzig last night while McTominay came on as a 63rd-minute substitute.
Now Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has to decide the right balance to get United’s Premier League campaign ignited.
The Red Devils are currently in 15th place with just seven points form five matches. They have a game in hand over most of their rivals however.