With games against Liverpool and Manchester City to come, Manchester United’s title credentials are going to be given a severe examination by our big rivals.

And with these big tests upon us, our leaky defence needs to urgently stand up to the challenge both Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola’s sides are going to pose.

Yes, we haven’t got the experience and leadership of Raphael Varane to marshal the backline, but we have enough quality to deal without the World Cup winner.

Spain v France - UEFA Nations League Final
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Our defence in the last two games and our first-choice back four last season was bought for a combined £190m.

But somehow we have only managed one clean sheet in our last 20 games which was Varane’s debut at Molineux.

The only team in the top half to concede more Premier League goals than us (10) is Tottenham (12).

Urgent improvement needed

Manchester United v Atalanta: Group F - UEFA Champions League
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Last night showed that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer possesses the firepower to overcome adversity, but we cannot be doing that every game and certainly not against the like of Liverpool, City and Chelsea.

But we looked at sixes and sevens at times last night, a quick free-kick was taken by Atalanta and Victor Lindelof found himself at left-back and Luke Shaw was at centre back.

Harry Maguire over committed and thought Davide Zappacosta was cutting the ball back instead of being squared and Scott McTominay couldn’t stop Mario Pasalic from tapping the ball home.

We weren’t switched on and alive to the danger, we lacked concentration.

FBL-EUR-C1-MAN UTD-ATALANTA
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But the ease and manner in which Merih Demiral doubled La Dea’s lead was equally distressing.

 

Despite hiring Eric Ramsay as a set-piece coach in the summer, three of the last five goals we have conceded have come from set plays.

If you add Kortney Hause’s winner for Aston Villa at Old Trafford that makes it four from the last eight conceded, coming from dead ball situations.

That needs to be addressed and fast especially with Virgil van Dijk coming to the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday.

Leicester City v Manchester United - Premier League
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We looked like mannequins when Demiral scored, everyone was reluctant to step out of their designated zone with nobody attacking the ball.

It’s not realistic for United never to concede goals from set pieces, but the sudden spike is alarming. This is an issue the team hoped to have fixed. Perhaps Raphael Varane will be needed back in order to do so.

If we are to challenge for major honours, we need to build a resilience and become difficult to break down.

David de Gea may be back to his best, but he probably didn’t envisage he was going to be this busy at the start of the season. He needs greater protection.

Solskjaer, Ramsay and the rest of the coaching staff are going to have to work overtime to overturn this dire streak and change our defensive fortunes.

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