Manchester United legend Paul Scholes has reiterated what he thinks is the club’s main issue that is preventing them from becoming serious title contenders.
The Red Devils picked up a 3-1 win over Newcastle on Sunday night to bolster themselves back into second place.
But legendary United midfielder Scholes insists that their defence lacks the authority and quality in defence, especially at centre-back, that other title winning sides have shown over the years.
Scholes told BT Sport: “I think that’s what’s stopping them from being a team that can challenge for the league, or possibly the Champions League, challenge for the top trophies, let’s say.
“Everywhere else, I think their midfield and forward players are really exciting, he’s built a really exciting team that are capable of scoring goals. I think in the middle of defence, Lindelof especially, they lack authority.
“He can be bullied, sometimes he’s not strong enough. I think both can be very timid, they don’t really command or bully centre-forwards, they don’t really demand from the rest of the team. I think these two positions in particular are massive for teams that are going to win the league.
“You look right through the history of teams that have won the league, they are dominant and authoritative centre-halves. You think of Vincent Kompany at City, Van Dijk at Liverpool – who couldn’t win the league until they brought someone with authority at centre-back in.
“Can these two learn that? I’m not sure they can. I think Maguire will be okay, Lindelof is the one that worries me – he’s the one that seems to get bullied more often than not.
“They’ve got Eric Bailly on the bench, a lot of people have called for him to have a chance, but the trouble with him, he comes in and plays a game, then you don’t see him again. He just cannot stay fit, he’s one of those players that just cannot get a run of games.
“You look at the defensive side, the two centre-halves, their argument will be: we’ve played Liverpool, we’ve played Manchester City and kept a clean sheet, yeah, okay, they did, but when you look at the other side of it – the attacking side of the game, the attacking players completely went, they had to play two holding midfielders because they were worried about the centre-halves and possibly the goalkeeper.”
This was not the first time Scholes has questioned whether United’s backline is resolute enough to take them back to their glory days.
“Defensively-wise, no,” he said after the 3-3 draw with Everton when asked if United were good enough to challenge for the title.
“We all know they’ve got a lot of goals in the team but as Bruno [Fernandes] said, their defence has just not been good enough.
It has been a hectic season so far – so make sure you don’t miss a single thing by signing up for the brilliant new Mirror Football newsletter!
All the latest transfer news and big stories will land straight into your inbox. You won’t miss out.
To sign up, put your email at the top of this article or follow the instructions on this link.
“It’s hard to put your finger on it as well because you look individually and they’re okay. Maguire is a good defender.
“I still have question marks against Lindelof. I always will.
“I don’t think he’s quick enough to play alongside Maguire, I don’t think he’s aggressive enough.
“Wan-Bissaka, defensively has always been good. Luke Shaw has had a really good run of games, he’s been brilliant going forward, defensively he’s been okay as well.”