But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side know they could already have been within touching distance of top spot had they secured all three points against the Foxes at the weekend.
United led twice at the King Power Stadium through Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes, but had to settle for a 2-2 draw after being pegged back both times.
It was the first time the Red Devils have dropped points on the road in the Premier League this season – having had to come from behind to win all six of their previous away games.
And Ferdinand says Solskjaer’s side must start paying attention to “details” if they want to mount a serious challenge for the title.
He revealed he received a text from former United goalkeeper Van der Sar after Harvey Barnes scored Leicester’s first leveller as the two Old Trafford legends chewed over the team’s defensive deficiencies.
“Edwin van der Sar text me during the game, when the goal went in and McTominay didn’t go out to close him down and Bailly was behind him,” said ex-defender Ferdinand on his Five Youtube channel.
“And it took me back to when we used to play and I would always say to Edwin, ‘When you see me going out to someone one-v-one, or on the edge of the box, I will try and stand in a certain place and wherever I stand, you stand opposite to it, you react off where I stand’.
“So if I was going out to say, Fernando Torres, on the edge of the box, I know he’s right-footed, I’m going to make sure that he can’t hit it back between my legs.
“So he can go down the right-hand side, keep pushing down the right-hand side, and get a shot off, but I’m going to allow you to shoot near post, that’s fine – but not back through my legs, I’m going to block that.”
Ferdinand and Van der Sar played for six years together at United, winning four Premier League titles and the 2008 Champions League.
And former England centre-half Ferdinand says the relationships players develop with each other can make a huge difference in terms of winning games.
“I’d say to Edwin, ‘If it goes through my legs hopefully you save it, but if you don’t it’s down to me. I take full responsibility’. And that’s the conversations we were having.
“And that’s what players need to do. You need to create relationships, talk off the pitch before you go on – ‘If this situation happens, this is what I’m going to do, react off it this way’.
“So no stone is left unturned. It’s in the detail. You win three points with detail sometimes.
“You go home with one point, or no points, because you didn’t concentrate or find out about the finer details and make sure you both were on the same page.
“It’s about working in twos, pairs, in threes, quartets sometimes, working together in little units on the pitch and getting a good understanding of each other.”
With the January transfer window about to open, many are calling on United to bolster their defensive options.
But Ferdinand says his former side don’t necessarily need to spend if both players and coaching staff put in the work on the training ground.
“Sometimes you can’t just keep churning out chequebook after chequebook, buying player after player,” he said.
“Sometimes it’s down to the coaching and analysing things and looking at the finer details.
“I’m not saying the coaching staff aren’t doing that at Man United, because I know they are, but sometimes there are little nuances, little things you might think about or forget or you don’t think about at the time.”
Ferdinand said it’s not just down to the coaches, however, calling on players to “take ownership” of their defensive responsibilities.
“All these players nowadays, you can tell by the way they play, been to the training ground, seen it, they’re all well-drilled as teams, all got a gameplan, all work towards what the manager wants – that’s fine, that’s great. But sometimes you need a bit more than that,” he said.
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“There is a fine detail in the games that are going to get you over the line and you just need to be really diligent in doing that as a team.
“Sometimes it’s not down to the manager, and not down to the coaches, it’s down to you as a player to start asking questions and start pulling people to one side and saying, ‘We’re going to do this because it’s going to make it easier for you, and I’m going to stand here and you react off me’.
“Take ownership, take leadership of situations – simple as that.”