Michael Owen criticises Manchester United’s defence following Stoke draw

by Leo Nieboer

Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen has cast doubts over Manchester United’s defensive qualities following their 2-2 draw with Stoke City on Saturday.

Jose Mourinho‘s men went into the game having not conceded any goals in their last five Premier League games but were notably shaky at the Bet365 Stadium.

Eric Bailly‘s lack of positional assurance led to Jean-Eric Choupo-Moting scoring Stoke’s opener before a slip from Phil Jones allowed the Cameroon international to claim his second six minutes after Romelu Lukaku put the visitors ahead.

And Owen, speaking on BT Sport, expressed his doubt at United’s capacity to maintain a solid defensive structure throughout the campaign.

“I would be concerned slightly with Manchester United’s defence,” he said.

“They’re in the Champions League now and against the best teams – I can’t look at that back four and think ‘world class defender’ about any of them. I think they are all much of a muchness really.”

Any title challenge is grounded in a consistently reliable back four, and Mourinho would have been concerned to see just how susceptible Jones and Bailly were to folding against Mark Hughes’ side.

The likes of Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof haven’t been given a chance to impress yet this season but they hardly inspire confidence, with the latter still needing time to settle in at Old Trafford.

Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw and Ashley Young are all yet to return to action but, all of a sudden, United’s defensive options – whilst hardly destitute – appear less concrete and more ambiguous.

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