Nemanja Vidic has expressed his disappointment at the slack defending that has already cost Manchester United crucial points in the title race.
United were yet again defensively porous in their 2-2 draw at Bolton Wanderers at the weekend, twice going a goal behind and needing goals from Nani and Michael Owen to rescue them from a first defeat of the season.
The Red Devils have been leaking goals of late, conceding nine in six league games this season. In eight games in all competitions they have managed only three clean sheets, and have conceded at least two goals in every away game so far.
Contrast this with United’s record-breaking defensive record when they last won the title in 2008/09 and the signs of a rapidly deteriorating backline are clear.
Back then, United conceded just 24 goals all season and kept 24 clean sheets on the way to an 18th league title. They also conceded only 11 goals away from home all season, a tally they already stand just four short of after six games.
After the Bolton game, United’s new captain Vidic admitted that suspect defending was providing cause for concern.
"Yes, we're concerned. Over the last few years we haven't conceded many goals. We always looked strong and we didn't give teams many chances. But in the last few away games we haven't kept clean sheets, which is very disappointing."
Vidic, named team captain earlier in the season, also expressed frustration at United’s failure to capitalise on a weekend in which title rivals Arsenal and Chelsea both failed to pick up any points.
"The results on Saturday were good for us but we didn't win and now we don't have the same advantage we had this morning, before kick-off.
"This was a game we wanted to win and before the game we'd have said a draw would be two points dropped."
By Jonathan Fadugba