What has happened to our defence?

Discussion in 'Manchester United Forum' started by Walters_19_MuFc, Oct 31, 2018.

  1. Oct 31, 2018

    Walters_19_MuFc Full Member

    Sep 3, 2013
    It has been well documented that we are after a centre back.

    Mourinho was clearly in the market for one in the summer, but unfortunately, we couldn't get a deal over the line.

    Now, most people, including myself, agree that our defence is not at the standard it should be, especially if we're looking to challenge for major competitions.

    Having said that, what is so different from Mourinho's last couple of years to now?

    Our defensive stats in the last couple of years are as follows:


    Clean sheets - 17

    Goals conceded - 29

    Goals conceded per match - 0.76

    Saves - 85

    Tackles - 690

    Tackle success % - 71%

    Blocked shots - 154

    Interceptions - 584

    Clearances - 1,112

    Headed Clearance - 572

    Aerial Battles/Duels Won - 2,766

    Errors leading to goal - 3

    Own goals - 1


    Clean sheets - 19

    Goals conceded - 28

    Goals conceded per match - 0.74

    Saves - 118

    Tackles - 564

    Tackle success % - 65%

    Blocked shots - 168

    Interceptions - 481

    Clearances - 853

    Headed Clearance - 436

    Aerial Battles/Duels Won - 2,699

    Errors leading to goal - 4

    Own goals - 2

    As I said, our defence does need upgrading, however, the above stats are pretty good and we were up there with the so called 'better' defences in the Premier League, keeping the most clean sheets last season (19) and joint first with Spurs season 16/17 (17).

    This season, our stats after 10 games are as follows:

    18/19 (after 10 games)

    Goals conceded - 17

    Goals conceded per match - 1.70

    Clean sheets - 1

    16/17 (after 10 games)

    Goals conceded - 12

    Goals conceded per match - 1.20

    Clean sheets - 4

    17/18 (after 10 games)

    Goals conceded - 4

    Goals conceded per match - 0.4

    Clean sheets - 8

    So as you can see, we made a better start defensively after 10 games in our last couple of seasons, especially in 17/18 season.

    My question is, what is so different this season that we are leaking more goals than we did in the last couple of seasons under Mourinho?

    Formation change

    We played a 4231 for the majority of the time in the last couple of seasons. It is well documented that this is Jose's favoured formation, and a formation he knows how to set up defensively in.

    De Gea

    He's been a major reason as to why we've not conceded so much in the past.

    With De Gea having, for his standards, quite a poor world cup, some say he's still finding form. Could an in form De Gea have made a difference this season to the goals we've conceded?


    Was showing signs last season that he wasn't quite up to the pace of the game. Seemed sluggish and has carried into this season.


    Have we just been lucky over the last couple of years and is our lack of quality starting to show?

    Lack of confidence

    Can't be nice being a centre back at United. Not only seeing the media saying they're not good enough, but the manager too.

    What do we think it is? Thoughts?
  2. Oct 31, 2018

    Ducklegs Part of first caf team to complete Destiny raid

    Jun 17, 2011
    Our defenders are simply not good enough, and have not been for years.

    De Gea faces some of highest amount of shots of any goal keeper in the league, as soon as his form dips we see just how shoddy our back line is.
  3. Oct 31, 2018

    Nate Dogg Don't Make Me Angry

    Mar 6, 2002
    Smalling is our best defender...that should tell you everything about our defence and why we are so inept.
  4. Oct 31, 2018

    Andycoleno9 Full Member

    Mar 4, 2017
    Oh, my favourite subject. Ok, in a few words. We have defenders who are shit. Smalling, Rojo and Jones especially. Bailly goes from excellent to bad and Lindelof is too soft( so far).
    Last few years we played defensive football with de Gea in god mod so we had more clean sheets. This year we tried to play attacking and we leak goals.
  5. Oct 31, 2018

    adexkola Arsenal supporter

    Mar 17, 2008
    The CL is a glorified FA Cup set to music
    orderly disembarking on planes
    Well I learned in the Sergio Ramos thread, that goals conceded isn't a metric to capture how good your defensive line is. So we're doing fine, all things considered.
  6. Oct 31, 2018

    Schmiznurf Caf Representative in Mafia Championship

    Sep 18, 2016
    The Lazy Craig Show
    De Gea was broken by the world cup.
  7. Oct 31, 2018

    Treble Full Member

    Sep 11, 2008
    This does not explain the huge difference with last season though. Last season: 4 GA after 10 games, this season - 17 GA after 10 games. Even if one factors in luck and DDG's top form last season, the current problems in defence are still inexplicable. Defence has been largely very poor. And was poor against Everton too.
  8. Oct 31, 2018

    Zlatattack Full Member

    Feb 9, 2017
    Last season we played more defensively, there were at time 2 midfielders dedicated to defending.

    This season we are trying to play more offensively, the defence isn't getting the same level of cover and so it's inadequacies are being exposed.

    Also Matic has had a severe drop in form, he's our dedicated CDM, so that doesn't help.

    Finally DDG is playing like a normal world class goalkeeper, not like the Messi of goalkeeping.
  9. Oct 31, 2018

    Cee90 Redcafe Fantasy Football Champion 2012/13

    May 4, 2009
    London | W201 Stretford End
    IMO, for years De Gea has masked the reality that our defenders aren't actually very good.

    So far this season he isn't playing to the ridiculously high level that we have seen over the past few seasons.

    We also allow far too many shots on goal, so perhaps our midfield are to blame too.
  10. Oct 31, 2018

    charlenefan Far less insightful than the other Charley

    Aug 17, 2005
    Yeah because no one has done a thread on this so far this season already have they
  11. Oct 31, 2018

    ravi2 Full Member

    Feb 4, 2012
  12. Oct 31, 2018

    Amar__ Incredibly Nasty Man

    Sep 2, 2010
    MK Dons
  13. Oct 31, 2018

    ABC of Football New Member

    Nov 18, 2011
    We have been saved on many occasions by de gea which has kept our record a lot better then it should have been in the past. We seem to have 2 big issues:

    1. We make way too many individual mistakes. The amount of goals we concede through mistakes is ridiculous for any team.
    2. We fold under any kind of pressure. As soon as a team put any pressure on our defence we seem to concede.

    My personal opinions on why this is the case is a mix of a few things.

    1. Our team isn't good enough individually. This includes our midfielders and strikers who don't do good enough work to protect our defence.
    2. We lack that intensity infront of our defence, to squeeze a game.
    3. Our habit (which must come from Jose) of dropping deep. Since we are not good enough defensively and we are full of mistakes. its ridiculous to me, to see our team drop so deep when we are winning, because once we do that and the ball comes anywhere our goal, we always concede!
  14. Oct 31, 2018

    Treble Full Member

    Sep 11, 2008
    Chelsea had similar defensive problems season 15/16 when Jose left. They were relatively solid in defence the first two seasons (13/14 and 14/15) and then collapsed in 15/16.
  15. Oct 31, 2018

    Skills Snitch

    Jan 17, 2012
    The toxic manager we have has sucked a lot of confidence out of the team including the defence.

    We have a defensive midfielder who must play all game every game, and is a liability.

    Our awful attacking play means that teams don't respect us enough to worry about committing in attack. This is further encouraged by dropping deeper and deeper to defend.
  16. Oct 31, 2018


    Feb 12, 2018
    Our defence has been looking suspect since Ferndinand and Vidic left. We need to get serious and invest in some real quality.
  17. Oct 31, 2018

    Greck Full Member

    Dec 1, 2016
    It was never a title winning defence because someone was an occasional brainfart away from forcing De Gea to pull a super save. Mourinho has however exaggerated it. It's good enough to get us top 4 and is definitely good enough to not need Mctominay there
  18. Oct 31, 2018

    Pogue Mahone Poster of the year 2008

    Feb 22, 2006
    "like a man in silk pyjamas shooting pigeons
    All of the above.

    Plus the the absence of Valencia who, for all his sins, has been an important part of our defensive unit in recent years.
  19. Oct 31, 2018

    Roboc7 Full Member

    Mar 31, 2014
    The manager has ruined the confidence of the defenders to prove a point or get his way which hasnt worked.

    We allow teams to play, more and more teams want the ball and want to attack. Teams also expect to be pressed which we don’t do and again opposition find it easy to play, Sevilla and Juventus couldn’t believe they were allowed to come to Old Trafford and pass the ball around without any pressure.

    De Gea has also been the difference in lots of tight games over last few years, combination of him not playing as well and teams taking some chances has meant scrappy wins have become draws or defeats.
  20. Oct 31, 2018

    DarkXaero Full Member

    Jun 17, 2009
    NJ, USA
    This is probably the biggest reason. Jose killed their confidence before the season even started. Matic is also indeed a liability but has full protection from Mourinho, and can't be benched.
  21. Oct 31, 2018

    el3mel Full Member

    Oct 23, 2016
    De Gea stopped being superhuman.

  22. Oct 31, 2018

    CantonaVeron Full Member

    Apr 12, 2003
    Our biggest problem is the inability of our defenders to stay fit, the lack of understanding through playing together on a regular basis is a big issue. As much as people call our defenders individually saying they are not good enough, I actually don't think they are that bad its just we can never put out the same back four for the majority of the season and its been that way for probably ten years. If anything from our current bunch we do lack a leader but its getting one who will stay fit that will mean the improvement we need to challenge.

    As for the comparison of seasons, sure De Gea hasn't made as many unbelievable saves but I'd say its more the opposition have taken there chances really well against us, sometimes that happens.
  23. Oct 31, 2018

    Gary_Walsh_Nou_Camp_Hell New Member

    Nov 11, 2015
    Whalley Range
    Most of our defenders are shite.

    Jose is partly to blame because some are his signings, but blame also lies with Fergie, Moyes and Van Gaal. In fairness to Jose he identified the issue in summer and Woodward made a bizarre judgment call.

    Woodward was wrong but Jose should have kept it in-house, talking players down in the press seems to have affected confidence.

    I do believe Jose is trying to play slightly more expansive tactics so with not parking the bus quite as much we were bound to concede more.

    Personally, I've been waiting years to see the back of Smalling and Jones.
  24. Oct 31, 2018

    Robbie Boy Full Member

    Jun 17, 2010
    Not the only reason but feck me Matic is terrible.
  25. Oct 31, 2018

    Oldyella Full Member

    Jan 8, 2014
    Lack of protection with Matic, our DM, horrifically out of form.

    Our FBs for the last few years, Young and Valencia, are both too old now and both converted wingers anyway and are being phased out. Shaw has done ok on the left, hopefully Dalot can do the same on the right.

    No Cb has been able to pin down a place next to Smalling, although Lindlof looks like hes improved in the last few games. Bailly, Jones and Rojo are all injury prone and are sub standard even when fit.
  26. Oct 31, 2018

    UncleBob Full Member

    Aug 21, 2014
    I think/know you, and probably the majority in here, have completely misunderstood our stats....Looking at clean sheets, clearances, blocked shots etc, without looking at where the shots are taken from, chances created against us etc, you're missing large parts of the story.

    Some look at goals against, clean sheets, from last season and confuse it with having a solid defence. We didn't have a solid defence last season.We had more shots against us from inside the box (229) than from outside the box (172), we had 20 shots against us from inside the 5 yard line. A total expected goals against us which was 43,54. Roughly twice as many (shots against from inside the box, outside, inside 5 yard line, and expected goals) as Manchester City.

    Almost double as many shots on target against us per match than City had, 1,5 as many as Liverpool...You need to go down to Burnley on 7th place to find a team with more shots against them per match, and Arsenal on 6th for a team with more shots against them on target.
  27. Oct 31, 2018

    Class of 63 Full Member

    Aug 15, 2017
    Back of Beyond
    Rui Faria ain't around to drill 'em, simples
  28. Oct 31, 2018

    MUfreak New Member

    Oct 24, 2018
    I think our pursuit for more defenders at the close of last window did one on our own defenders, they certainly felt that they were not good enough and did feck all... And then a senile Jose somewhere waiting to use "I told you so!" on every meeting with Ed.
  29. Oct 31, 2018

    Walters_19_MuFc Full Member

    Sep 3, 2013
    Interesting stats.

    Where did you get those from please, mate?
  30. Oct 31, 2018

    UncleBob Full Member

    Aug 21, 2014
    I can't find the one with shot zones from last season


    It gives you shots against from this season and where we take our shots from, but I can't seem to find out how to change it to 17/18 season.

    https://understat.com/league/EPL/2017 - This one shows the expected goals against and the difference vs actually scored. While I'll happily argue that expected goals isn't that great, it's a bit interesting that we have the highest difference between expected goals and actual goals scored against us, and that Burnley is the only other side with a difference larger than 10, where the next one on the list is 1/3rd or ours...

    If you look at us this season, we've basically let in 2 goals more than expected and scored slightly more..

    If you compare that with the same period last season, which is a bit unfair given we've played different teams so we should wait until January to compare, between august and 31st of October last season we had scored 3 goals more than expected and goals against were almost 6 less than expected (which would've put us at 10, which is still a lot less than our current situation)


    Basically, I would strongly argue against any notion that our defence was all that good last season....
  31. Oct 31, 2018

    abdo99 Full Member

    May 26, 2016
    The problem is not the defence. There are other mid table teams that conceded less goals than us. The confidence went for a little bit. Baileys confidence is gone. Lindelof confidence was gone as well but it's coming back now and people are starting to see his quality now. When bailly's confidence comes back we will see his quality again I'm not worried about him.
    Our attack is the problem not the defence. Teams don't respect us in attack so they come for our defence and we drop deeper and deeper inviting more pressure on it. I guarantee if we were an attacking force scoring lots of goals our defence wouldn't see half the problems we have now. We offer teams the freedom of OT to do as they please. Stop that happening first before we talk about the defence.

    To begin with get matic and lukaku out of the team, bring, herrera, sanchez back and play high pressing defend from the front with players like martial, rashford, fred, pogba, mata, lingard, andreas we have all the tools needed to play this football. We have the recovery pace at the back to deal with counter attacks. This defence needs to push higher up the pitch and play in a smaller space.

    Having said all of this I would very much welcome a new RB and another quality CB to add some depth to our squad. We can always improve.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2018
  32. Oct 31, 2018

    Walters_19_MuFc Full Member

    Sep 3, 2013
    Really good point.
  33. Oct 31, 2018

    Walters_19_MuFc Full Member

    Sep 3, 2013
  34. Oct 31, 2018

    Waynne New Member

    Aug 21, 2014
    We lack defensive leaders. A senior figure who can orchestrate and organize a defence.
    There are many other examples at other world class clubs past and present.
  35. Oct 31, 2018

    meninred New Member

    Sep 30, 2011
    1.we were always spolied with great defenders.many of them in the list of the greatest defenders in premiere league history.
    This can be considered an average defence.but their stats are
    surprisingly good.
    2. A very good keeper saves you atleast 10 points a season which degea did. This season he hasnot been spetacular.Still too early.

    3. Chronic problem is the attacking third.we dont have fast agile and good passers of the ball.
  36. Nov 1, 2018

    Al-T Full Member

    Feb 25, 2014
    The Slough of Despond
    I'm honestly surprised that five years and three managers after SAF retired, Smalling, Jones, Valencia and Young are still here. Jones especially.

    Maybe that's an indictment of our recruitment or a dearth of quality available.
  37. Nov 1, 2018

    VeevaVee despite the protests, wears Ugg boots Scout

    Jan 3, 2009
    Looking at stats again are the problem.

    It's not been good for a long long time.

    The main reason why it's looked so exposed this season are the entire team isn't working on not conceding like recent years, and teams have realised they can come at us home or away and get something.
  38. Nov 1, 2018

    JMack1234 Full Member

    Feb 19, 2017
    Our manager spent the entire summer moaning about how much he needed a CB and how hard this season would be without said CB. Which cannot of helped their confidence. Also our manager would rather play me than Eric Bailly who in my view is the best CB we've got all in all.
  39. Nov 1, 2018

    Peyroteo Professional Ronaldo PR Guy

    Jan 11, 2016
    Porto, Portugal
    Sporting CP
    I guess Real Madrid should sell Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo and buy Tarkowski, Ben Mee and Stephen Ward.

    Not understanding that the number of goals conceded depends a lot more than on the quality of the defenders is beyond absurd.

    If a team plays like Atleti they're less likely to concede than if they play like Real Madrid... doesn't mean the defenders are better. Problem for United is you play conservative football and you're still conceding goals for fun.
  40. Nov 1, 2018

    Darlington Padgett New Member

    Sep 9, 2017
    For some reason every long ball or through ball ends up in someone with a ton a space or 1v1 with De Gea.Probably everyone has noticed those big spaces between our defenders and how easily they are exploited.