Manchester United’s glaring areas of weakness were highlighted once again in the humbling 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace at Old Trafford.
The exhausting pursuit of Borussia Dortmund starlet Jadon Sancho has been the focus throughout this summer, but with two weeks remaining in the transfer window, a deal looks no closer.
Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof drew fresh criticism from supporters in the wake of Saturday’s defeat, as it became even more apparent the Reds require a more capable central defender to be able to compete.
Gary Neville explained why a top class centre-back has to take precedent in United’s transfer plans despite the ongoing speculation surrounding Sancho.
“You can talk about Jadon Sancho all you like, but until they get a centre-back in that can run and defend one-on-one, you’re never going to win the league,” Neville told Sky Sports, as quoted by the Manchester Evening News.
“They’re not going to win the league with that centre-back pairing. They have to get a mobile, quick, dominant centre-back in alongside Lindelof or Maguire.”
The lack of cohesiveness in the Maguire/Lindelof defensive pairing has created the consensus among the fanbase that the addition of a central defender in the next two weeks is of paramount importance.
But, remarkably, it appears that United are content with their defensive options and will not be making a move for a new centre-back in the coming days.
According to David Ornstein of The Athletic, United are not prioritising signing a new centre-back and will not change their strategy after their opening day defeat.
It is noted that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been offered players that could bolster the defence, but United are viewing other positions as more immediate areas of concern.
Solskjaer still has Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Axel Tuanzebe and Teden Mengi among his ranks and the report suggests it is unlikely a new centre-back will be brought in due to the plethora of options already at the manager’s disposal.
The Athletic adds that Chris Smalling could be reintegrated into Solskjaer’s plans if Serie A side Roma don’t make an adequate offer for the 30-year-old.