Paul Parker

Fergie will be kicking himself over RVP mistake

I think Sir Alex Ferguson will be regretting the fact that he didn't start with Robin van Persie as Manchester United lost to Everton on Monday night.

Having gone out and paid in excess of £20 million to sign him from Arsenal they should have put him in from the start, rather than leaving him on the bench and only giving him a chance when they were chasing the game, which is not the kind of situation he wants to be thrown into.

I know he hasn't played all that much football since Euro 2012 but the seasons are pretty close together these days. Can he really be that out of sorts that he can't start a football match? You are better off starting with him and getting him comfortable in the team immediately.

He didn't have enough time to demonstrate what he can do and United need to find him a role in the team for their next match. Wayne Rooney was chasing the ball around aimlessly, and Shinji Kagawa looked to be the only player that Van Persie could link up with. The Japan playmaker was United's best player. Anything that looked like it might be decent came from him.

United will have to find a way to accommodate Van Persie, Rooney and Kagawa and it might mean Rooney being the workaholic and perhaps cutting in from wide positions with Kagawa in behind Van Persie. It would be foolhardy not to have all three in the side and Wayne is perfectly happy working from a wide position. You would always have Antonio Valencia on the right but when you look at what you are getting from Nani and from Ashley Young, the left side looks to be the best place to play Rooney.

But what cost United in the end against Everton was that they went into yet another game lacking in defence. They were poor at the back and Everton could have won by two or three and no one would have complained. For the first time I think I can say that David de Gea saved Manchester United from an embarrassment.

Michael Carrick was forced into action as an emergency centre-half but I cannot understand why he was asked to mark Marouane Fellaini at set-pieces. He might be a bit taller than Nemanja Vidic but physically he is much weaker and his jumping off the spot is inferior too.

United will have planned for Fellaini but on the night they were completely unable to deal with him. It is very hard to stop someone that aggressive and strong in the air but you can always make it difficult for them by blocking and things like that. When you have two unnatural defenders in Carrick and Valencia you are going to struggle. Vidic is only just coming back as well so he could have done with more stability alongside him.

I think there's a case to be made that United need another centre-half. You hope Vidic will not pick up any compensation injuries because he has been out so long; Rio Ferdinand seems to break down at least once a month; Jonny Evans has had injuries as well; and Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are also sidelined with fitness concerns at present.

The strength of the great United sides that have won leagues and doubles has always been continuity at the back, when the back four picked itself. At this moment in time that is not the case and United always seem to be scraping around for defenders which is not a good showing for a club of their calibre.