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Rio Ferdinand: ‘Manchester United wingers lack imagination’

Rio Ferdinand: ‘Manchester United wingers lack imagination’

Former Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand has claimed that the 20-time English champions are lacking “imagination” in the wide areas.

The Red Devils have only managed one goal in their last two matches, while their leading goalscorers in the Premier League this season are Marcus Rashford and Antony, who both have three strikes to their name.

Jadon Sancho has netted twice in England’s top flight this term, while Anthony Martial also has two, but the France international has already suffered three separate injuries this season.

Cristiano Ronaldo has managed just two goals in all competitions in 2022-23, with only one of those coming in the Premier League, finding the back of the net against Everton on October 9.

Ferdinand has claimed that Man United’s lack of “imagination” in the wide areas is harming the team, who are currently preparing for Wednesday’s Premier League clash with Tottenham Hotspur.

Antony celebrates pulling one back for Manchester United on October 2, 2022© Reuters

“We don’t seem to have the imagination in those areas,” Ferdinand said on his FIVE YouTube show. “We used to give it to Nani, Giggsy [Ryan Giggs], to Becks [David Beckham] even, give it to Antonio Valencia or Cristiano [Ronaldo] when they’re wide.

“Get him in a one-on-one situation, either with a good ball from [Paul] Scholes or [Michael] Carrick etc, get them one-versus-one and do your thing.

“At the moment we get in those positions and unfortunately for us, our wide players are turning away from that, they’re not killing full-backs, they’re not skinning them.

“The best teams, the winners, get teams one-versus-one, they wait for that moment in the game. They might only get two or three moments in a game where they stand that full-back up one-versus-one.”

Ferdinand referenced Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka as an example, claiming that the England international is currently one of the best outside forwards in the league.

Bukayo Saka scores for Arsenal on October 9, 2022© Reuters

“Saka does it as well as anyone at the moment in the league. They get the full-back one-versus-one and they say, ‘right, I’m going to ghost you’. At the moment, our wide players aren’t doing that.

“Parts of their game are working functionally, other than the City game [6-3 defeat], defensively they’re doing well. But when we have the ball and we want them to do that bit of cherry on the top, that stuff, we aren’t getting that right now.

“It’s what you need sometimes, to create that space and all of a sudden you’re behind their defence and, all of a sudden, the likes of Marcus Rashford and Cristiano can come alive and get you goals, or Bruno [Fernandes] comes in late.

“We spoke to Nani and he told us that was his intention. As soon as he got the ball one-versus-one, he was looking to beat the full-back. I love that about him (Saka), he’s got no fear, he’s playing with a bit more maturity every time I see him.

“He is in a good vein of form with a club that’s in a good vein of form. He’s confident and if he’s in that mode going into the World Cup I don’t see anyone starting in front of him.”

Man United will again be missing Martial against Tottenham through injury, leaving Sancho, Ronaldo, Rashford and Antony to compete for the three starting roles in the final third of the field.

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