Rio Ferdinand praises ‘very secure’ partnership of Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte after clean sheet against Marseille and suggests Pep Guardiola has FINALLY fixed Man City’s leaky defence… but Owen Hargreaves insists they still need a left back
City cruised to a routine 3-0 win over the Ligue 1 side, controlling proceedings from minute one, with Ferran Torres, Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling on the scoresheet to keep up their 100 per cent start in the Champions League.
The team looked particularly more sound at the back – an area that has caused huge concern this season after losing 5-2 at home to Leicester last month, and after the game Ferdinand said City looked ‘very secure’.
Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte impressed for Manchester City in their 3-0 win over Marseille
‘I think they were very secure in the way they performed from a defensive point of view,’ he said on BT Sport. ‘If you look at City over the last few seasons they always give you a chance, no matter who they’ve got in the team.
‘But [tonight] they were still solid, whenever they got into dangerous areas, they got back into the rhythm of playing attacking football, controlling the game.’
Dias and Laporte barely gave the hosts a sniff of an opportunity as they martialed their attacking threats out of the game and helped give City the element of control throughout.
Laporte was strong at the back to give the visitors control from the first whistle in France
Dias has caught the eye since his £65m move and has brought calm to Guardiola’s defence
Guardiola was pleased with how his defence got on in his post match interview, singling out most of his defenders for praise – even saying Kyle Walker was in his best form since he arrived at the club. Ferdinand says he finally has a dependable backline to call upon after being forced to chop and change.
‘Pep name checked the back four which is a key part of that,’ he added. ‘He wants to instill confidence, he wants the continuous ability to select players, he’s not been able to select the same partnership at the back since Vincent Kompany left.’
The Spaniard has been criticised for experimenting with his options in defence despite splashing out around £400m on his back four since arriving at the club.
Pundit Rio Ferdinand said Guardiola will have confidence he can pick a consistent back four
Huge sums have been spent on players like John Stones and Benjamin Mendy, who remain on the fringes of the team. Meanwhile, Nathan Ake was brought in for around £40m this summer and Dias joined for £65m.
Former Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry said Guardiola’s tinkering has hurt City at the back, but has finally found his dream centre-back pairing in Dias and Laporte.
‘You want to be playing regularly with someone, when you’re chopping and changing it can be difficult. The partnership [Dias and Laporte] was so important, to keep a clean sheet will give them confidence going forward.
Ferdinand added that a centre-back pairing can have a huge impact on the whole team, not just in defence, and said it was crucial that they continue to gel and form an understanding together.
City have come under fire this season for some poor defensive displays in the Premier League
Guardiola praised his ‘stable’ defence and name checked the players after the clean sheet
‘You need to know almost without looking where your partner’s going to be, that comes with playing games. To get partnerships going you need time with injuries. You hope they can stay fit and build confidence, because it affects the keeper and someone like Rodri in front of them.’
Their fellow pundit Owen Hargreaves said Dias was impressive alongside Laporte and could be a spiritual successor to Kompany, but stressed that Guardiola had to find a solution to their lack of quality at left-back.
‘I thought Dias played great,’ he said. ‘We said about Kompany – trying to replace him, I thought he looked really good. Three of that back four are good – Kyle [Walker], Dias, Laporte, they’ve just got to sort out that left-back position.
‘But I thought Zinchenko did great in there as well. He’s the most consistent of all the players [at left back]. Mendy is hit and miss, Cancelo prefers to play as a right back, – he’s probably the most techinically gifted – so I think you’ll see Zinchenko staying there for a while.’