When you look at the Premier League table you see that Manchester United have conceded a total of 16 goals. This is the highest amount of any side in the top four and suggests that they perhaps need a little bit of defensive cover considering the plague of injuries which has hit the United back line ever since the start of the season.
However, United have started to cope without certain players in their team and the return of Chris Smalling and the return to training of Phil Jones means the club could shortly go from having no defensive cover to plenty of it which would suggest that bringing in another defender will cause more problems than it solves. Had Smalling not been fit when Jonny Evans picked up a groin injury in the Champions League defeat at Braga, then it could have been a different story.
The full back positions don’t seem to be a problem for United at the moment and once they have all of their centre backs fully fit, they won’t have a problem in that department either. The groin problem Evans has is not so severe that it’s going to keep him out of the side for an enormous amount of time. The only long term absentee is club captain Nemanja Vidic who has a knee problem and is not expected to feature in the side until the New Year.
The saving grace for the club has been Rio Ferdinand staying fit, despite speculation over his future at the end of this season. Having one fit, reliable and experienced defender has allowed Sir Alex Ferguson to patch things up in the other central defensive position until his regular defenders return to full fitness.
There is no doubt that United’s best defensive pairing, when fit and in form, is a combination of Vidic and Ferdinand. Jones’ recovery is being treated in exactly the same way that Smalling’s was in the respect that he is being nursed back to full fitness through training. Fortunately for United, they haven’t had to throw Jones in at the deep end, just yet.
United don’t need another central defender because they have cover. Another body in that area would mean risking alienating someone like Jones who would subsequently be forced to play in a full back or defensive midfield role which is not his best position. Jones is arguably the most versatile defender United have on their books so it’s very important they keep him happy.
If United do use January to bring in another central defender then it will be the biggest hint yet that Rio Ferdinand could be on his way out of the club. There has been a lot of speculation linking Ferdinand with a move back to West Ham United. As things stand, with the defensive players at the club about to return to fitness, this is the only logical reason as to why Fergie would get another central defender in.
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