I have two problems with Manchester United's performance on Saturday. First, I have to wonder how long manager Sir Alex Ferguson is going to rely on Patrice Evra at left back. There was a time when Evra was one of the best defenders in the Premier League, but he's been struggling for the past year.
Ferguson made an excellent signing last summer when he pried Alexander Buttner away from Vitesse Arnhem. Buttner has seen limited action thus far for United, but he's looked very good. At this point, I'm starting to think that the Red Devils would be better off with Buttner in the lineup. It's hard to justify keeping him on the bench when Evra has been poor for much of the season. I would think that, at the very least, giving Buttner a couple starts on the left side would motivate Evra to step up his game.
Rio Ferdinand is the other source of my frustration. He appeared old and slow against Tottenham. There's no greater example of this than when Gareth Bale ran past Ferdinand on his way to scoring Tottenham's second goal in the 32nd minute.
Ferdinand's struggles on the Bale goal wouldn't be a big deal if that was the only issue he had against Spurs. However, he was slow throughout the game. I know that Ferdinand is not playing at 100 percent right now, but let's not forget that he's a 33-year-old who has struggled with injuries. It's becoming clear that Ferdinand is no longer the player that he was five years ago.
I think it's time for Ferguson to find his next duo at center back. Let's not forget that Ferdinand's partner in central defense is Nemanja Vidic, who is out for the next two months after having knee surgery. Both starters have been out of action for extended periods of time in the past two seasons. That issue needs to be addressed.
Maybe Phil Jones and Jonny Evans will take over the central defense one day, but I'm not sold on either one of them. I hope to see Ferguson go after one or two center backs next summer. I'd be even happier if he made a move for during the January transfer window, but I doubt that he'd move away from his usual plan of action.
Either way, Ferguson needs to do something with this defense. Manchester United won't be able to hang with Chelsea and Manchester City if they don't solidify the back line.
Derek Ciapala has been following Manchester United since childhood. He has been published on Yahoo! Sports, GatewayMMA.com and multiple other websites. You can check him out on Facebook or Twitter @dciapala.