Ferdinand defends Man Utd star who was labelled not ‘that good a defender’ by Keane

Arlo Gibbons
Arlo Gibbons
4 Min Read


Rio Ferdinand has offered a defence of Manchester United full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka after he was criticised after the Arsenal loss.

Wan-Bissaka has been brought back into the limelight following an injury to Diogo Dalot. The 25-year-old had seemed surplus to requirements under Erik ten Hag until recently.

Before the World Cup, the defender had only played four minutes of Premier League football and a January sale looked more than likely.

Circumstances have meant that he has been given another chance at Old Trafford as he has now started in United’s last six league matches.

The defender came under criticism for his role in Arsenal’s first goal as Eddie Nketiah gets ahead of him at the far post. Ferdinand has offered a defence of the 25-year-old though.

On his Vibe with Five Podcast, he said: “Gary Neville was the best at this as a full-back, he was the best at marking the opposite side when the ball was coming in so if their winger was crossing the ball, the Gary Neville gets himself inside the post so that anything that beats me, he’s going to get.

“But also he’s going to attach himself to that winger, get hold of them. Sometimes he’s not as big as those guys but they’ve got to do a lot to get away from them and he would just stand in their way.

“This [the Arsenal goal] is all about awareness and seeing that bigger picture and that comes from reps in training,” Ferdinand said.

“For Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and all full-backs, it’s a really hard skill to master by the way. The way the guys were talking about it yesterday was like it was easy. It’s not easy.

“That is one way that 33-year-olds get unpicked at the end of their career when they are meant to know it back to front.

“It’s about being switched on and having concentration for the full 90. If you switch off in those moments, you get punished because you’re six yards out so it’s a goal.

“He has to attach himself. Feel him. Or he has got to turn and face, but that is the hardest thing to do, to do that and see the crosser and the Man.”

Former United star Roy Keane gave a much harsher verdict on Wan-Bissaka for his role in the first Arsenal goal.

Keane told Sky Sports: “It’s just his lack of awareness. It’s as if he can’t believe someone’s coming around the back of him, because he can see him, he just dozes off. A silly lack of concentration, considering we praise him saying he’s a good defender.

“He’s obviously not great in possession going forward so people always tend to say he’s a really good defender, but I actually don’t think he’s a good defender.

“You can see that as well from the other goal, I think he needs to do a lot better. I look at him over the last few years and don’t see that big of an improvement for a full-back, which is such a huge position to play for Man United. I don’t see it.”

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