Date: 5th November 2009 at 7:15pm
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Lack of a settled back four cost United dearly, according to club captain Gary Neville. Gary believes that the injuries and suspensions seriously weakened our defence which has been brilliant over the last three campaigns.

‘We are interchanging the defence too regularly at the moment because of injuries and it has caused us a problem,’ he said.

‘We had to change our keeper for the opening two months of the season, then Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have been injured. Before that it was Wes Brown.’

‘It means more changes than the manager would like. He wants a consistent back four, which is what we have had for two or three seasons.’

‘We definitely want to improve defensively and once we settle into our stride I am sure we will become better.’

Hopefully but injuries alone cannot explain the alarming loss of form in the case of Rio Ferdinand, for example. Although it’s true that Gary’s point is reinforced by the performance of Patrice Evra who’s been the only mainstay of the defence this season and he performed brilliantly. The others, chopped and changed around, did not reach last season’s heights.

Edwin’s absence hardly helped of course but it would be time to regain our invincibility at the back which was the basis of last season’s success. Alarm bells have been ringing since August but perhaps prematurely: remember, last season’s great run did not start until November and we looked very vulnerable at the back in the defeat at Arsenal which was almost exactly a year ago.

As I said, Ferdinand’s form is a worry and cannot be fully explained by injuries – but the major worry is still his fitness. If he’ll never be able to shake off the injury problems he’ll never recapture his true form. If he returns to full fitness he might become the world-class defender he usually is, if his head is sorted out as well.