My Big Mouth – Stop using defensive injury crisis cop out… Manchester United deserved to feel Spurs’ wrath

By Andrew Bardsley

Manchester United have daydreamed their way to third in the table after six Premier League games.

After an opening defeat to Everton, where they were thoroughly outplayed, the Reds won six consecutive matches in all competitions, until Saturday.

But don’t let the impressive record fool you, United were outclassed in most of those wins too.

Bar the 4-0 victory over Wigan, last season’s runners up have been less than impressive.

An accomplished first-half performance against Fulham was soured by tense moments in the second, and their blushes were only saved against newly promoted Southampton by an inspired Robin van Persie.

United were less than convincing in the Champions League tie against Galatasaray, and were second best for long periods of that emotional day at Anfield last week.

With respect to these clubs, they do not have the firepower than Tottenham have in abundance, and accordingly United’s shaky defence was found out.

Gareth Bale highlighted Rafael’s defensive frailties, and Aaron Lennon made Patrice Evra’s worrying loss of pace clear for all to see. Similarly Rio Ferdinand did not look like a man who has won 81 England caps.

Tottenham came away with all three points because they converted their chances, and United’s record would be much less impressive if their recent opponents had done the same.

Some have attributed this problem to the defensive injury crisis that the club have recently faced.

With Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and club captain Nemanja Vidic all on the treatment table, youngsters such as Scott Wootton and Ryan Tunnicliffe have been called up – even Mikael Silvestre is back training at the club!

However this argument is no more than a cop out. Exclude Vidic, the defence that played on Saturday would be Sir Alex’s first choice line up and was so for much of last season.

For whatever reason the team have not been performing to the high standard that they have set themselves over the years, and if they continue to do so a reinvigorated Chelsea will threaten to supplant them as the main contenders to Manchester City’s Premier League crown.

A fixture shortly after a defeat is always an excellent opportunity to right wrongs and bolster confidence.

On paper United’s trip to Transylvania to face CFR Cluj tonight looks like a straightforward task. However the Romanian champions beat Braga 2-0 away from home in their opening Group H fixture, a result that not many predicted.

If United display the lacklustre defending that cost them three points on Saturday, they may well have their own horror story to recount when they return to Manchester.

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