Rio Ferdinand concerned for ‘huge loss’ at Man Utd with back-up plan called into question

Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane, Manchester United, February 2022

Former Manchester United ace Rio Ferdinand has hailed the current centre-back partnership, but questioned the length a back-up defender can perform for.

United have performed well in a number of facets this season. Indeed, they are currently within the Premier League’s top six, and are second in their Europa League group.

Last season, their defence came under fire on occasion. Indeed, in 38 league games, they conceded 57 goals – the same amount that they scored.

One of the main men that was questioned was captain Harry Maguire. Criticism of the centre-back has continued in the media this season, too.

He was one of a few United players that former Premier League man Frank McAvennie described as not “good enough” earlier this season.

Clearly, Erik ten Hag noticed that the defence needed improvement when he took charge of the club over the summer. Indeed, he splashed more than £50million on centre-back Lisandro Martinez.

Ten Hag also dropped Maguire after just two league games. Since then, Martinez has formed a solid partnership with Raphael Varane.

That partnership is one that former United centre-back Ferdinand is a big fan of.

“We’ve seen straight away that those two together make us a different team, it’s as simple as that,” he said on Rio Ferdinand presents FIVE.

Varane injury a big blow

Ferdinand has hailed the performances of both Martinez and Varane, particularly the latter.

“Martinez has been top this season but Varane gives us that something different, that speed, that experience and physicality,” he added.

However, the injury that Varane sustained in United’s recent draw with Chelsea could be a big loss. The Frenchman exited the field crying after he suffered the hamstring blow. The extent of that injury is not yet known.

“I think he could be a huge loss,” Ferdinand said.

“You need them two [Varane and Martinez] back together.”

United will be hoping that the injury the centre-back sustained is not too serious, given his importance to the side.

Back-up plan under question

Victor Lindelof was the man who came into the side when Varane was forced off. In doing so, the Swedish defender made just his third league appearance of the season.

Despite his lack of minutes this season, Ferdinand feels he will be a good deputy. However, the United legend has also questioned how long Lindelof can perform for.

“It seems to me that it isn’t going to be Harry Maguire who comes in now. It looks like it’s going to be Lindelof,” he added.

“Lindelof is decent, I think he will come in and do a job, it just depends how long he’s being asked to do that job.”

Indeed, given he has not played too much of late, he might struggle to string together that many consistent performances. United will hope that is not true, though they will no doubt eagerly await Varane’s return.