Look at the Premier League table, and you’ll see Manchester United in second place.
At the moment, United are in with every chance of securing a top-four finish (the title race looks to be over already given Manchester City’s relentless winning run).
But United have had their defensive issues in recent weeks. In fact, they’ve had them all season.
The Red Devils are the highest-scoring team in the division. With players like Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford, you’d expect them to be.
The flip side to that is that, out of the top 10 teams, only Liverpool and Everton have conceded more goals. United have conceded the same number of goals as Brighton and Fulham, who are 16th and 18th in the table respectively.
Against Newcastle on Sunday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side again rode their luck at times. Six minutes after Marcus Rashford’s opening goal, Allan Saint-Maximin fired the Magpies level. It came from a set-piece as Newcastle worked a short corner before pumping it towards the far post.
Harry Maguire was there to meet the cross, but instead of heading the ball out for a corner, he glanced it back into the danger area, where Saint-Maximin met it unchallenged on the volley.
It was another example of United conceding a relatively soft goal. It has been a common occurrence in the league recently, with Everton, West Brom and Sheffield United among the teams to have profited from their leaky defence.
Naturally, the conversation around United’s defenders persists with many supporters expressing their desire to see Solskjaer upgrade his options at the back.
Ferdinand would pick Keane over Maguire
And while he did not go as far as to say Maguire needs to be replaced, Rio Ferdinand admitted on his podcast that he would play Everton’s Michael Keane ahead of the United captain on current form.
On his Vibe with FIVE show, Ferdinand was asked by co-host Stephen Howson whether he would pick Keane or Maguire ‘at the moment’.
“On form, Michael Keane all day,” said Ferdinand, who won six Premier League titles as a United centre-back.
“There wouldn’t be another person in the country that’s watching Premier League games week in, week out that would tell you Maguire is more consistent than Michael Keane at the moment.”
Keane has enjoyed an excellent season at Everton and was impressive once again on Saturday as the Toffees claimed their first Merseyside derby victory over Liverpool at Anfield since 1999.
Speaking on the same show, Everton defender Mason Holgate also sang his teammate’s praises.
“I think this is probably the best season he’s had since I’ve been playing with him,” he said.
“On the ball, he just looks so composed. I think definitely at this point in the season I can’t really think of many centre-backs who’ve had a better season than him.”