Man United defenders rated after Istanbul Basaksehir horror show

£80m captain Maguire isn’t leading, Shaw keeps going AWOL, Lindelof’s a liability but Telles and Wan-Bissaka are rare positives… United’s defenders rated after ‘Hackney Marshes’ display in Turkey

  • Manchester United suffered an embarrassing 2-1 defeat at Istanbul Basaksehir
  • Their defence was a shambles for both goals in the Champions League loss
  • Captain Harry Maguire was culpable for Demba Ba’s breakaway goal
  • Luke Shaw was caught badly out of position for the Turkish club’s second 
  • Maguire and Shaw among several United defenders who must improve form
  • Aaron Wan-Bissaka one of the few defenders emerging with credit at moment 

Paul Scholes compared it to ‘Under 10s football’. Rio Ferdinand claimed you ‘wouldn’t see this on Hackney Marshes.’ Robin van Persie couldn’t remember any team conceding such a bad goal.

This wasn’t the Dog and Duck third XI, though, it was Manchester United being humiliated by Istanbul Basaksehir on the Champions League stage.

United fans like to sing about being the ‘Pride of all Europe’ but on Wednesday night their defence was the continent’s laughing stock.

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire cuts a dejected figure in Istanbul on Wednesday

Demba Ba (left) gave the hosts the lead when he was left unmarked following a United corner

United’s defenders inexplicably left Ba completely unmarked close to the halfway line 

The manner of Istanbul’s first goal was shameful, with 35-year-old Demba Ba left to stand alone on the halfway line by a comical lack of defensive organisation.

Ba isn’t as quick as he used to be but when the defence is non-existent he was always going to score.

United’s back line didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory for Basaksehir’s second goal, either, and the defeat not only piles more pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but raised yet more serious questions about their defence.

It’s clear some of United’s defenders need to urgently up their game and others need to depart the club. Only a handful are justifying their place at present. 

We rate all of United’s defensive options on their form.  


United’s captain Harry Maguire insisted repeatedly before the trip to Turkey that he is completely focused on his football despite the off-field distractions of his summer incident in Greece.

If that truly is the case, then Maguire simply isn’t as good as an £80million defender should be.

His start to the season has been abysmal and Wednesday night was just the latest example. Nothing is going right for him and he just looks completely devoid of confidence and form.

Maguire contradicted Roy Keane’s comments after the weekend loss to Arsenal by saying there are a ‘lot of leaders’ in the United dressing room.

Maguire neglected his captain’s duties by allowing Ba to be left unmarked on Wednesday

But where was his own leadership when going forward for a corner without ensuring Ba was being marked in case of the quick counter-attack? It was nothing short of a dereliction of a captain’s duty.

And his positioning was all wrong for Istanbul’s second goal, rushing to the ball and leaving acres of space behind him for Edin Visca to score.

It follows several rushes of blood to the head, notably in the 6-1 defeat by Tottenham, in which Maguire seemed to forget the basics of defending.

The hope was – and presumably remains – that Maguire can play himself out of this early-season funk.

Maguire will serve a one-match ban in the UEFA Nations League following his red card playing for England against Denmark. The best thing would be for Gareth Southgate not to pick him, to have a rest and get his head together. Rating: 4/10

United’s captain wrestled team-mate Luke Shaw out of the way against Tottenham

Eric Bailly has been very unfortunate with injuries that saw him sidelined for most of last season and most of the start of this.

It’s prevented him challenging Victor Lindelof for a spot at centre-back though from the evidence of the one league game he has started lately – the 6-1 loss to Tottenham – he wouldn’t be much of an upgrade.

The jury remains out on Bailly as he needs a sustained run in the side to prove himself. But while injuries continue to afflict him, United need to carry on in his absence. 5/10

Eric Bailly has been hampered by injuries as he tries to assert his claim to start for United

Axel Tuanzebe, 22, is seen as the long-term partner for Maguire by many but he was as bad against Istanbul as he was excellent in the win over Paris Saint-Germain.

Mind you, it wasn’t his fault that Maguire, the captain and senior defender, failed to Marshall the defence properly. Tuanzebe should have been told to stay back and keep tabs on Ba.

It also wasn’t his fault that Solskjaer wanted to bring on Scott McTominay at half-time and he was the one replaced.

There’s every chance Tuanzebe will establish himself as a first-choice centre half at United. After all, he kept Kylian Mbappe and Neymar very quiet the other week and so can be trusted in big games.

Solskjaer only seems to think he can do a job in the Champions League and he was an unused sub against Chelsea and Arsenal.

There is much to be improved on in his game but Tuanzebe looks far more promising than most of the alternatives. 6/10

Axel Tuanzebe was excellent in United’s win over PSG, keeping Kylian Mbappe in check

Luke Shaw was completely AWOL for Istanbul’s second goal having been caught upfield and it’s not the first time that has happened.

It’s certainly been a mixed start to the season for the Englishman who goes from being excellent against Leipzig and on the verge of a return to the England squad to dreadful against Spurs and Istanbul.

Shaw isn’t having an awful season by any means but he will need to up his game otherwise risk losing his place to Alex Telles. 5/10

Luke Shaw was too slow in getting back and couldn’t prevent Edin Visca scoring the second

We haven’t seen much of Timothy Fosu-Mensah. He started against Crystal Palace on the opening weekend and then came off the bench on Wednesday night.

His performance against Palace suggested that Aaron Wan-Bissaka won’t be losing his place anytime soon. 5/10

Timothy Fosu-Mensah came off the bench in Istanbul but doesn’t get much game time


Lindelof was an unused substitute in Istanbul and so doesn’t take any of the blame. He also didn’t play in the humiliating loss to Tottenham.

But none of this means the Swede is good enough to be one of United’s first choice centre halves.

There have been doubts about Lindelof for a long time and Ferdinand has been among the pundits saying he isn’t good enough if United are to challenge for silverware anytime soon.

Yet of all United’s defenders, Lindelof has emerged with some credit in recent weeks, especially in the goalless draw with Chelsea and the 5-0 win over RB Leipzig.

There were times last season when Lindelof and Maguire did look like an effective pairing at the back but that seems a long time ago.

It’s increasingly clear that United will need to sign a new centre-back and indeed it’s baffling they didn’t address this urgent need in the summer.

When they do, Lindelof is going to be the one making way and not Maguire. 5/10

Maguire and Victor Lindelof remain a thoroughly unconvincing central defensive pairing

It’s baffling that Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo remain at the club.

Jones is only 28 but you feel he’s much older. He only played 562 minutes of football last season and hasn’t been included in United’s squads this season.

Like Rojo, who went out on loan to Estudiantes last season, they are clearly surplus to requirements and will surely leave in January. 

Centre-backs Phil Jones (left) and Marcos Rojo (right) are clearly surplus to requirements and yet remain Manchester United players


United fans will be keen to see more of Telles, the summer arrival from Porto, after his highly encouraging debut against PSG.

The left-back is currently isolating after contracting coronavirus but could feature in Saturday’s game at Everton.

Telles isn’t going to be the magic solution to all United’s woes but he will provide stiff competition for Shaw and hopefully offer something a bit different. 7/10

Alex Telles played really well against PSG on his United debut but then contracted Covid-19

Wan-Bissaka really struggled on Wednesday night but on the whole the right-back is up to the task.

He regularly tops the charts for making tackles and winning the ball back and is building on a positive first season at Old Trafford despite the team’s current travails.

So good is his tackling some pundits are telling Solskjaer to move him across to centre-half to solve problems there.

It’s clear Wan-Bissaka has what it takes to play there for United for many years to come and he also showed us a glimpse of his attacking qualities by scoring against Newcastle. 7.5/10

Aaron Wan-Bissaka had an off night in Istanbul but has generally performed well of late

Brandon Williams has been restricted to a couple of EFL Cup outings so far this season and it isn’t clear where he stands with Telles coming in.

Perhaps it would make sense to convert to right-back, which he is capable of doing. It’s a shame because the youngster had an excellent first season in 2019-20 and would have wanted to kick on. 7/10

Brandon Williams will hope his season isn’t just restricted to Carabao Cup outings

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