'Protect him' - Rio Ferdinand names one thing Man Utd must do against Liverpool

Man Utd vs Liverpool: Pundit verdict ahead of the game

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Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand. Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand.
Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand.

Rio Ferdinand has claimed that Manchester United need to ensure they protect youngster Kobbie Mainoo against Liverpool this weekend.

He warned his former side that they need to support him better despite his glowing form since breaking into the first team. Mainoo, despite being 18, has earned senior debut for United and England within the space of a few months. Since making his debut, he’s managed 24 appearances which includes 15 Premier League starts and he impressed in their most recent game with Liverpool - the 4-3 FA Cup victory - and he’s on course to start against Jurgen Klopp’s side this weekend at Old Trafford.

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In the latest episode of Stick to Football, brought to you by Sky Bet, Ferdinand said: "You look at Kobbie Mainoo, who everyone is raving about and rightly so - he’s been magnificent since he’s come into the team. But I don’t see anyone trying to protect him. He’s a kid - imagine if a young kid came into one of our teams, you try and protect that kid.

"There’s only the odd one, like Wayne Rooney, you don’t have to protect, but in the main you want to make sure there’s bodies around, don’t leave him exposed."

The 45-year-old added: "How many games do you see him being left exposed? Imagine that feeling, being exposed in that midfield, it’s a lonely place in there if there’s big spaces. There’s got to be older players and coaches in that team that make sure they tighten it up for that player, especially for the game at the weekend [against Liverpool]."

In the 80 minutes he managed in the cup tie against Liverpool, he completed all four of his dribbles, won seven of his 10 ground duels, made three interceptions and two tackles and had a pass success rate of 82%. He will most likely start alongside one of either Casemiro or Scott McTominay behind Bruno Fernandes and the nature of his performance will no doubt be a key factor as to whether Liverpool can earn what would be a vital victory in the race for the Premier League title.

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