Rio Ferdinand has hailed Manchester United as one of the best defensive units in the world following their 1-0 win over Benfica in the Champions League.
Jose Mourinho’s men, despite an early foray forward from the Portuguese champions, never looked like conceding in Lisbon as Marcus Rashford‘s free kick took Man United to within one point of qualifying for the knockout stages.
And Ferdiand, speaking on BT Sport after the game, was quick to note that United can be rightly regarded as one of the best defensive sides in Europe.
“As a team, Manchester United are up there with anyone defensively,” he said.
“Attack wins you games; defence wins you titles.”
One of Sir Alex Ferguson’s most resonating quotes rings true here. Manchester City are blitzing teams at the moment and quite literally take your breath away, but Mourinho has engendered an unbreakable resilience at the back since arriving at Old Trafford that could prove just as valuable come May.
United have nine clean sheets from the 13 games played so far this season – a kind of defensive record that forces any attacking unit, no matter how accomplished they are, to take note.
But the numbers aren’t what should catch the eye, but rather that United hardly ever look like conceding. When they do, attacking players then have to deal with David de Gea – another obstacle entirely.
Sometimes you can smell it, can’t you? Some teams creak and creak until eventually that crucial gap opens up. But this isn’t happening with Mourinho’s back line, which will only see itself reinforced further by Marcos Rojo‘s return to action in the coming weeks.