Rio Ferdinand blasts Trent Alexander-Arnold for ‘horrific’ performance against Manchester City despite wonder goal
'He's forgot about the fundamentals of defending.'
Alexander-Arnold scored a stunning late equaliser at the Etihad last Saturday to rescue a crucial point for his side in the Premier League title race.
The right-back was named Sky Sports Man of the Match and his performance received much praise, but Ferdinand was left greatly underwhelmed by the England star’s defensive efforts.
‘Listen, on the ball he does things we’ve rarely seen from a full-back, his passing, his range over varying distances, he can give you however you want it – curled, drilled, fade it, the lot. Just have that same intensity defensively,’ the Manchester United legend said on the Vibe with Five Podcast.
‘He scores, yeah, but I look at their [Manchester City’s] goal and think he should’ve done a lot better against [Nathan] Ake. I just don’t understand it.
‘There’s a passiveness when he has to defend, there’s no intensity. When he goes to engage the winger, I don’t see those soft knees ready to explode, he goes in like he’s forgot about the fundamentals of defending. One-v-one you’ve got to go in, you’ve got to be lower, ready to make the run.
‘[Jeremy] Doku, there isn’t a winger in the league right now who is as aggressive as him. Before the game starts you go, “right, I’m going to be ready because he will try go down the line or inside”. It looked like Trent didn’t have an understanding or an acknowledgement that this is that guy.’
There are some who felt that Doku, who dribbled past Alexander-Arnold seven times during the game, should have been given the Man of the Match award instead.
The 25-year-old has been frequently criticised in the past for not being good enough defensively, something that has seen him often overlooked for England in favour of the likes of Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier.
More recently, the defender has played further up the pitch in a midfield role but Ferdinand believes that despite that he most focus less on the offensive side of his game.
‘I want to know what Trent is thinking [post-match],’ he added. ‘He gets the goal – that’s unbelievable – but does he think that disguises a horrific defensive performance?
‘”I got dribbled by seven times, I’ve not put my impact or imprint on him [Doku] at all”, or is it, “I’ve just scored a goal”, and that’s all he is thinking about?
‘Is he thinking, “I’ve got to improve defensively?”. That is the question I want to be answered because then you can get to understand, can he be a top, top right-back? Or is he already thinking, “I’m morphing out of that now and I’m more attack-minded. Everything I do with the ball outweighs anything I do”.
‘I can’t praise him enough with the ball, there’s no words to describe how great he is with the ball. The pictures that he sees, there aren’t many players that see it with a ball at their feet but what defender in history is judged with what they can do on the ball?
‘Nobody said Cafu can’t defend, Dani Alves… he was an unbelievable defender as well. My point is, was there a point where you said he can’t defend? No-one ever said that.
‘I think he goes into the game thinking what he’s going to do to hurt the opposition, “what can I do to affect the game?”. I don’t think he spends much, if any time, thinking about defensive responsibilities. That’s why you see fundamentals that aren’t there at the moment.’
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