So I’ve agreed to provide player ratings for the forthcoming season. As someone who has regularly dismissed the entire concept of player ratings as a nonsense in the past, I can only assume I was very drunk at the time, but we’ll see how we get on! Thankfully, my biggest bugbear with the ratings we see from the mainstream media is the pressure of deadlines forcing the journalists responsible to clearly submit them in many cases before the game is even over – there’ll be no such problem here, as you can see from the publication date of these Charity Shield ratings.
We’ve all got our biases, positive or negative, but I’ll try to be as fair as possible. 6 will be the standard rating for a decent performance (I’m a child of the Championship Manager generation, after all), and if this first set of ratings diverge only very slightly from that mark, that’s a reflection on a pedestrian game and barely-out-of-first-gear performance and shouldn’t the case going forward (with there being more 8s and 9s than 3s and 4s, hopefully…).
David De Gea – Won’t have an easier outing all season. Dealt with the odd backpass or cross as competently as you’d expect, but given Anderson’s salad tongs have seen more action than Dave did this afternoon, it’s almost pointless giving him a rating… but I will anyway. (6)
Rafael da Silva – Not on long enough to merit a rating, but his usual effervescent self from the off, helping set the tone for United’s bright start and linking up promisingly with Zaha before his hammy went ping. (NA)
Patrice Evra – Opposition and occasion have to be factored in, but this Wembley display suggested last season’s return to form was no flash in the pan. Stormed forward relentlessly and to great effect, teeing up Van Persie for the opener. Little to do defensively, but expertly snuffed out a rare Wigan attack at the death, prompting a cry of “F**k Baines!” from the seat next to me – well, quite. (7)
Phil Jones – Was looking forward to seeing him in the centre (particularly alongside Vidic) after some impressive displays there towards the back end of last season, so a shame the early injury-enforced defensive reshuffle saw him deployed on the right for the most part. Solid enough but not his usual marauding self in that role. (6)
Nemanja Vidic – Clearly still a little short of fitness but the skipper was never likely to be unduly troubled by Wigan’s more direct approach and dealt with what little the Latics threw at him with supreme comfort. Hard to overstate what a boost an injury-free season for the Serb would be for United. The tangle with Grant Holt was a tad unseemly and unnecessary, mind (even if he is a Tory). (6.5)
Michael Carrick – Wigan’s engine room is one of Premier League quality and yet last season’s dressing room choice for Player of the Year controlled midfield with embarrassing ease, strolling through the game with the air of a man at the peak of his powers. The recipient of the official MotM award and a very close second on my card. (7)
Tom Cleverley – United fans love nothing more than a scapegoat and, despite only having one-and-a-bit seasons in the United senior setup under his belt and having impressed at times during that, Tom seems to be an increasingly popular choice of target for Red ire. Many will thus focus on the shot shanked woefully into the stands from 18 yards, rather than the constant pressing, impressive ball retention and neat final third interplay. Not me though. (7)
Ryan Giggs – New season, same freakish level of agility, athleticism and performance from a now near-quadragenarian. That also means the same clichés and platitudes that have been in use for much of the last decade of course, but I’ll do my best to steer clear. Gave the ball away at times but you get that with Ryan – used in the right role and complimented by the right teammates, that’s more than made up for by the invention, imagination and intelligence he brings to the side. (7)
Wilfried Zaha – Caught the eye early on, a continuation of the form that has probably made him the standout performer in United’s pre-season. There’s already a sense of anticipation when he gets on the ball – a promising sign. Drifted out of the game a tad, not helped by Rafael’s early departure and – presumably – the knock that saw him limp off. (6)
Danny Welbeck – Another youth product who divides opinion, I’m unashamedly a fan but acknowledge the need for the Longsight youngster to add goals to his game. Danny had little opportunity to do so here – one speculative effort well-saved by Carson aside – but impressed in a deeper role behind Van Persie, combining the usual prodigious work-rate as the first line of defence with intelligent use of the ball around the box and promising composure in possession, utilising both physique and technique. With Rooney sulking and Confed Cup duo Kagawa and Hernández not yet up to speed, the local boy will have a big part to play as the season gets properly underway.
Robin van Persie – If this glorified friendly is any indicator, the Dutchman certainly won’t be resting on any laurels now that long-awaited first league winners’ medal is secured. Looked sharp, hungry and – typically – provided the decisive moments, including a peach of a header that underlined his standing as the complete centre-forward. (7)
Chris Smalling (for Rafael, 16) – Such an early introduction less than 48 hours after going the distance in Rio’s testimonial can’t have been ideal but the England defender was largely untroubled, aside from one lapse in concentration where his misjudgement of a bouncing ball should have seen McClean fashion an equaliser for the Championship side. (6)
Antonio Valencia (for Zaha, 60) – Looked much like the Valencia of the back end of last season, which is better than the Valencia we saw for the previous 80% of that campaign but still a long way off the Valencia we saw in his Player of the Year campaign. It’s to be hoped that a return to the #25 shirt will bring a return of the form he was showing when last wearing that number on his back. (6)
Anderson (for Giggs, 67) – The usual mixed bag, with one pass sprayed sublimely to Evra on the left flank with the outside of the boot providing a reminder of the Brazilian’s unquestioned talent, any optimism then being dulled by trademark inconsistency in the form of a couple of poor decisions that wasted promising counter-attacks. (6)
Shinji Kagawa (for Welbeck, 83) – Could and should be a big season for him but his Confederations Cup exertions have him a few weeks behind the rest, explaining his limited involvement here as the game drifted to its inevitable conclusion – (NA)
Adnan Januzaj (for Van Persie, 83) – No real chance to make an impact in the closing stages of a game that was long since over as a contest, but that he was involved again is further evidence of the strides he’s made this pre-season. (NA)
Nick (@ManUnitedYouth) will be providing player ratings on RedMancunian through-out the 2013/14 season.