Updated: Friday, 29th May 2020 @ 6:20am

‘Worst defending of the season’: Wayne Rooney, Anderson and Robin van Persie save Manchester United's blushes

‘Worst defending of the season’: Wayne Rooney, Anderson and Robin van Persie save Manchester United's blushes

By Pippa Field

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was left exasperated at his defenders after yet another collapse made for an enthralling seven-goal game against Reading, with the Reds coming out the winners.

In a crazy encounter that saw all the goals come within the first 34 minutes, United fell behind to an early Hal Robson-Kanu goal before hitting back through Anderson and a Wayne Rooney penalty.

But the Reds defensive fragilities came to the fore once more as they then conceded from two corners in the space of four minutes – first from Adam Le Fondre and then Sean Morrison.

Neat finishes from Rooney and Robin van Persie hauled United back in front within ten minutes but Ferguson’s main concern was for his side’s calamitous defending.

“It was unbelievable,” he said.

“It was really bad defending and the worst we’ve been this season. We need to sort this out.

“I thought it was going to be a record score in the Premier League at half time.

“If you make mistakes like that when you are defending, you are going to have to perform rescue jobs every week and today was yet another rescue job.”

Going into the game, United would have been wary of the Royals attacking threat, with the home side having scored four first half goals against Arsenal in their 5-7 Capital One Cup loss.

But Ferguson could not have imagined such Reds defensive weaknesses and hauled off full-back Rafael on the half hour mark for Chris Smalling.

However, in Rooney and Van Persie, the Reds have an attacking partnership envied by most.

In a record equaling first half for goals scored, the pair contributed three goals with Van Persie unfortunate not to get another from a shot deemed not to have crossed the line.

Ferguson acknowledged his side’s attack had got them out of jail again and made a point of praising Rooney after this week challenging him to score more.

He added: “We could have been battered today, but thankfully we are always scoring goals and that is rescuing us every time.

“Wayne was fantastic in the first half, as was Robin and Ashley Young. Reading couldn’t control them.”

The win was made all the more important given that title rivals Manchester City drew with Everton and Chelsea lost to West Ham earlier in the day.

And Ferguson was well aware of the significance of the victory, as his side opened up a three-point advantage at the top of the table.

“I think it was important to win, knowing the results from earlier,” he explained.

“But you have still got to win your game and today was a real cliff-hanger for us, but fortunately we got the three points.”

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