Former Manchester United defender Mike Duxbury has admitted that last weekend’s defeat to Leicester City means his former club already face a tough task to win the Premier League but insists that the club will not play as poorly as last season.
United were 3-1 up at the King Power Stadium before a remarkable late capitulation saw them lose 5-3, and for a man who played over 300 times for the club, it brought back all too familiar memories.
“It’s like going back to the 80’s,” laughs Duxbury. “By that I mean the inconsistency. United playing great one week and then, well, not, the next! In all seriousness I do feel sorry for Tyler Blackett who is learning the hard way in a new defence but that’s life at the top level. They’ll have to deal, too, with things like Vardy diving the other day… it was laughable that a penalty was given.”
Duxbury says that although patience will be required in order for United’s defence to develop an understanding, it’s a virtue that the club can ill-afford. “Time is something that will obviously be needed but not too much if United are expecting to seriously challenge this season,” admits the former defender.
Critics have said that United’s current defenders are not good enough while others say they just need time – Duxbury, who played through the 80’s, says he would be inclined to feel the latter. “I would always try and look at it optimistically and say it’s a learning curve. From what the manager said afterwards, he was unhappy with Mata losing possession in the build up for one of their late goals. That’s the tough thing at United – they can’t just sit on a draw, the pressure is always there to win, so risks sometimes have to be taken. Leicester took their own when they were 3-1 down and they paid off.”
Prior to the defeat against Leicester, Blackett had said that the club could still win the title, and Duxbury believes it is still possible. “Other clubs apart from Chelsea are dropping points and if Leicester continue to trouble the top teams then hopefully, long term, it won’t look like a bad result. Apart from decisive head to heads it doesn’t necessarily matter who you drop points to… they can do it, but it’ll be a long way back if they do,” he says.
Despite the mixed start, Mike insists that an improvement has been made from last season. “I’m certain we won’t struggle as we did last year, even though we’ve had a tough start. Against Burnley we were woeful in my opinion and with the attacking talent we’ve added since then, with Di Maria settling in more, there’s much more vibrancy than we’re used to seeing. At times, going forward, it looks like the United of old. Di Maria’s goal, Falcao’s effort which hit the bar… it’s good to watch going forward.”