Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand has made it clear he thinks his old club could do with crossing the ball more to get the best out of new signing Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 36-year-old enjoyed a memorable second debut for the Red Devils at the weekend as he scored twice and put in a superb display in a 4-1 win over Newcastle at Old Trafford.
Ferdinand played alongside Ronaldo, however, and knows a thing or two about how to get the Portugal international scoring even more goals.
Speaking on Vibe with Five, Ferdinand says he already had one minor criticism of how Man Utd played against Newcastle that meant Ronaldo didn’t get as many opportunities as he could have.
“That’s one thing that I would say, not a criticism, but one thing to look at and learn from, from Man United’s point of view from the weekend’s first game,” Ferdinand said.
“And I’m telling you, he’d have been in there [the dressing room] after and this week saying, ‘Listen, cross that ball! When you get opportunities to cross the ball, you put it in there because I’m aggressive and I want the ball.’
“And he knows, and it’s well documented that I’ve always said this for the last few years, the defenders in this country are not great at defending crosses. It’s not an art that is actually honed anymore.
“When I was a kid, that was part and parcel of your daily routine, defending crosses, defending the box. From what I see in games, I don’t feel players are doing that enough.
“Because when I see balls come in the box at the moment, body positions and angles etcetera are way off. And it isn’t easy as a defender, I can tell you I’ve made many mistakes in that position. But you’ve got to work at it.
“And I think he [Ronaldo] can exploit some naive defending at the moment in the Premier League.”
United would do well to listen to Ferdinand here, though it is also questionable if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer really has any players in his squad who are good enough at delivering good quality crosses into the box.
United were notably linked with Kieran Trippier in the summer by the Telegraph and others, with right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka not known for his prowess when it comes to getting forward, even if he is a solid defensive full-back.
Luke Shaw is a good option on the left-hand side, but apart from that it’s hard to see where this MUFC side really have the players to find Ronaldo with a cross into the box.