Manchester United have made a rapid defensive improvement in recent weeks.

Five clean sheets in six games and eight in 13 in all competitions show United are making progress.

A lot of the acclaim will inevitably be given to new boys Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka for their roles in United’s newfound resilience.

At a combined £130 million in transfer fees, United are getting what we paid for with the pair.

But there has to be real credit for United’s coaching staff too, who have been helping the players bring about improvement.

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Multiple systems

United have flitted between playing 4-2-3-1 and 3-4-1-2 formations in recent weeks and it has been effortless.

The consistency in defence has remained regardless of which system has been used, even sometimes with just a couple of days between matches.

This is an illustration of good coaching from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his staff, to have his players well drilled and prepared enough for any eventuality, even changing systems mid-game at times.

Multiple players

United have not just depended on the same top four or five this season, or even the same goalkeeper.

While he made an uncharacteristic error in Belgium last week, Sergio Romero has been key to United’s clean sheets in cup competitions.

That was the first goal he had conceded in the Europa League this season, with Lee Grant in goal away at Astana.

Axel Tuanzebe, Marcos Rojo and even Phil Jones played their parts in clean sheets in the group stages, while Eric Bailly stepped in against Chelsea and looked like the player we have always hoped he can be.

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The biggest feather in United’s cap is the emergence of Brandon Williams in defence.

He has had a couple of shaky games but by and large he has played like he has been in the team for years, shutting down Adama Traore on three separate occasions.

For a young player to come in and gel so seamlessly with the team is a credit to the coaching staff, as is the way Luke Shaw has improved too.

Shaw has even developed in a way that he has excelled in a new position, as part of a back three, giving United a new option at the back.

Perhaps the biggest help has been the return to regular action of Nemanja Matic, one of the best defensive midfielders in world football.

He was an integral part of United’s early season Europa League performances and the team has look better balanced with him in the line-up over the past month.

There are big tests to come for United as the business end of the season approaches, and the effect Harry Maguire (£80m) and Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£50m) have had should be commended. But everybody concerned with the recent run deserves credit.

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