Man Utd verdict: Erik ten Hag must address Red Devils’ defensive fragility in January to stay in top-four hunt

    MANCHESTER UNITED’s 4-2 fightback win over Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup papered over the cracks in what was a poor defensive display.

    Erik ten Hag‘s men fell behind early on in the second half courtesy of an Ollie Watkins strike.

    Ten Hag must address United's defensive fragility in January

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    Ten Hag must address United’s defensive fragility in JanuaryCredit: AFP

    The defence, particularly Harry Maguire, failed to pick up the striker and before they could make up for being caught sleeping, the ball was in the back of the net.

    Such napping from Maguire will be a cause for concern for England, who will undoubtedly hope the defender is up to speed for this month’s World Cup.

    Anthony Martial drew United level but again the defence were caught out shortly after.

    Second half Villa substitute Leon Bailey forced Diogo Dalot into an error with the Portugal international turning the ball into the back of his own net, seeing United concede their fifth goal in a week to the Villans.

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    A much-needed injection of pace in the attacking areas helped United over the line, with Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay all netting to book the Old Trafford club’s place in the Carabao Cup fourth round draw.

    But if it wasn’t clear already; Ten Hag needs to dip into the transfer market in January and address United’s defensive fragilities.

    When Raphael Varane and/or Lisandro Martinez are missing, centre-back coverers Maguire and Victor Lindelof have proven unreliable.

    They have a tendency of switching off at the key moments, which could cost United ground in the League Cup, FA Cup, Europa League and the Premier League.

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    And with Newcastle not slowing down in their top-four surge, as well as Brighton, Chelsea and Liverpool breathing down their necks, United can’t afford for anymore costly individual errors.

    Ten Hag has spoken glowingly of wanting to get United back to their glory days.

    Well, he might want to take a leaf out of the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson’s book: “Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.”

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