Manchester United legend Phil Neville was not pleased with the showing of central defensive duo Phil Jones and Chris Smalling during Sunday’s 1-0 Premier League defeat to Newcastle United.
The loss was the Red Devils’ second straight on the road, and Smalling was primarily at fault after his reckless dive during the second period produced an opposition free-kick, which led to Matt Ritchie’s winner.
Speaking in the Match of the Day 2 programme, h/t The Express, Neville highlighted the vulnerability at the heart of the United backline with Jones and Smalling bringing jitters with their style of play.
He said: “They have got the best defensive record because they have the best goalkeeper in the world in David De Gea and [Nemanja] Matic out in front who protects them really well.
“But the last two away games [against Tottenham and Newcastle], Smalling and Jones have been a disaster. Against Dele Alli and Harry Kane, they got bullied.
“Against Newcastle, did they make many mistakes? No, but they created a nervousness and a tension. They were making decisions that were strange.”
Jones and Smalling were once regarded as the ideal centre-back partnership for club and country, but their recent performances on the road, have been pretty average to say the least.
Eric Bailly has been United’s best defender on show, but the Ivorian’s injury concerns have hampered the club on different occasions since the previous campaign.
Probably, Victor Lindelof and Bailly could be termed as long-term prospects for the central defensive department, but the club’s faithful would surely remain skeptic until the pair is tried and tested.