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Manchester United Player Ratings: The Defence

This is the final part of our three part series, where we take a look at our players’ performances so far this season. For the benefit of those who haven’t read the previous two — where we profiled the attack and midfield — here is Part I and Part II for you.

So sit back and read on as we get through what was, basically, an excuse to get through this international break which, by the way, has been going on forever.

Patrice Evra
As I’ve mentioned several times before, I like Patrice Evra a lot. He’s easily been the among most improved player in our ranks. The lad as shown honest efforts at trying to work on his weaknesses and has shown it on the pitch. One might remember how he was supposed to leave a lot of space exposed at the back when he used to make those surging runs forward. But with every passing match he has shown better defensive awareness, and his tackling has also improved greatly. Easily among our better players going forward too. But, of course, he is a defender and has been an important part of our mean defence. I love his attitude and, as I’ve mentioned it earlier, if he keeps going like this, we have a legend in the making. Rating: 8/10

Wes Brown
He is one of those squad players managers would absolutely love to have. Tremendously committed to the cause, he has stepped in for Neville, for what now looks like eternity, and yet if Neville were to return fully fit tomorrow Wesley would be promptly shunted to the bench. It is a thankless job, something he’s done admirably well at right back, and he’s more than capable of playing at centre back if the need arises. His presence gives defensive solidity at right back, and virtually blocks that channel for the opposition. One of those unsung heroes of the club. Rating: 8/10

Nemanja Vidic
Among Fergie’s best bargain buys, iron-man Vidic continues to be the rock at the centre of defence. Uncompromising, strong and fearless while defending, and equally brave while attacking corners. The gaffer had tipped him to chip in with ten goals this season. That would be a great achievement for him as a centre back and it would surprise me if he does manage that. Has had an excellent season so far. Rating: 9/10

Rio Ferdinand
According to oft quoted words in the media he is a ‘natural, ball playing defender’. That is true, no doubt. But he used to show the odd lapse of concentration at times that infuriated some of us. Many in the past had questioned his commitment. But of late, unfortunately, that sort of reputation has blinded many to the fact that he is a bloody brilliant defender. This season he hasn’t put a foot wrong. He’s been able to bring the ball out of defence quite easily. And his positional awareness ensures that he really doesn’t have to rush into ill-advised tackles. Ferdinand is clearly peaking and his attitude has never been better than it is right now. Captaincy material, without doubt, according to me. Rating: 9/10

Edwin van der Sar
Our excellent defence has made him a spectator for most part this season, but his experience came in at crucial moments to bail us out of trouble. The mark of a world class ‘keeper is from his ability to concentrate and stay aware even during times of inactivity — you may be a spectator, but you must be at hand to make a save when the chance comes your way. And that’s what he’s done so well this season. He was criticised for some gaffes made towards last season end, but has been solid so far in 07/08. Rating: 8.5/10

Tomasz Kuszczak
Some fans call him ‘PIG’ (Polish in Goal) although I find that derogatory — just hope it’s all in good humour — he’s done his job well in place of the injured EVDS. He has made crucial saves, and is a good shot stopper. But I am not sure enough about him, because I am yet to see enough to make a judgement. His handling of the ball seems a little dodgy, but he’s still young and will get better. Rating: 7.5/10

Honourable mention:
Gerard Pique and Danny Simpson, both of whom, stepped in admirably during our mini-injury crisis against Wigan.

And that ends our three part look at the team. We will do this again post-Christmas, where we will have a real good idea of how this season is headed. Hope you found this worth your while. Feel free to disagree in the comments.