Rio Ferdinand says Manchester United’s defenders need to pay more attention to the ‘finer details’ and take on more personal responsibility after they shipped two goals against Leicester City last time out, suggesting the back-line lack the understanding he shared with Edwin van der Sar.
The Red Devils twice went ahead at the King Power Stadium but were pegged back each time, with both Scott McTominay and Eric Bailly criticised for not closing down Harvey Barnes for his long-range finish in the first half.
Ferdinand seemed to pin most of the blame on Bailly and revealed old teammate Van der Sar had messaged him during the game about the incident and how they would have dealt with the situation, with Ferdinand demanding much more from United’s centre-back and the defence as a whole.
Asked if United’s defensive problems need to be rectified in the transfer market or on the training pitch, Ferdinand explained on his FIVE YouTube channel: ‘Sometimes you can’t just keep churning out chequebook after chequebook, buying player after player, sometimes it’s down to the coaching and analysing things and looking at the finer details.
‘I’m not saying the coaching staff aren’t doing that at Man United, because I know they are, but sometimes there are little nuances, little things you might think about or forget or you don’t think about at the time.
‘And it’s crazy you asked that question because Edwin van der Sar text me during the game, when the goal went in and McTominay didn’t go out to close him [Barnes] down and Bailly was behind him.
‘And it took me back to really when we used to play and I would always say to Edwin, “When you see me going out to someone one-v-one, or on the edge of the box, I will try and stand in a certain place and wherever I stand, you stand opposite to it, you react off where I stand”.
‘So if I was going out to say, Fernando Torres, on the edge of the box, I know he’s right-footed, I’m going to make sure that he can’t hit it back between my legs. So he can down the right-hand side, keep pushing down the right-hand side, and get a shot off, but I’m going to allow you to shoot near post, that’s fine, but not back through my legs, I’m going to block that.
‘And I’d say to Edwin, “If it goes through my legs hopefully you save it, but if you don’t it’s down to me. I take full responsibility”. And that’s the conversations we were having.
‘And that’s what players need to do. You need to create relationships, talk off the pitch before you go on, if this situation happens this is what I’m going to do, react off it this way. So no stone is left unturned. It’s in the detail. You win three points with detail sometimes.
‘You go home with one point, or no points, because you didn’t concentrate or find out about the finer details and make sure you both were on the same page. It’s about working in twos, pairs, in threes, quartets sometimes, working together in little units on the pitch and getting a good understanding of each other.
‘All these players nowadays, you can tell by the way they play, been to the training ground, seen it, they’re all well drilled as teams, all got a gameplan, all work towards what the manager wants – that’s fine, that’s great. But sometimes you need a bit more than that.
‘There is a fine detail in the games that are going to get you over the line and you just need to be really diligent in doing that as a team. Sometimes it’s not down to the manager, and not down to the coaches, it’s down to you as a player to start asking questions and start pulling people to one side and saying, “We’re going to do this because it’s going to make it easier for you, and I’m going to stand here and you react off me” etcetera. Take ownership, take leadership of situations, simple as that.’
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