First Team News

In Depth Player Ratings: vs Manchester City

David de Gea – Looked justifiably perplexed and irate at the disastrous defensive effort going on in front of him. Have seen some claim he should have kept out the third – I’ll be generous and assume folk are so won over by him now that they think he has superhuman powers. (6)

Chris Smalling – We talked him up on the RedMancunian podcast last week after a fine display against Leverkusen…. jinx! Reminded all that – like Jones – he’s not a natural full-back, and that his distribution needs to improve ten-fold for any ‘next Rio’ claims to have any merit. (4)

Rio Ferdinand – Looked alarmingly all at sea throughout and arguably contributed towards United’s downfall on three of the four goals. Shaky start to the season has got some writing him off – worth remembering there was similar talk 12 months ago. (3)

Nemanja Vidic – Not as glaringly at fault as his defensive colleagues perhaps bit still far from his best; you don’t expect to see a striker turn and deliver a cross so easily with Vida in close attention as Negredo did for the third, for example. Serious questions need asking about the two veteran CBs playing so often, and some may even justifiably question their deployment as a tandem in certain games. (5)


Patrice Evra – Hopefully a blip in what has been a promising season to date. Never really got to grips with the threat posed by Navas and Zabaleta (not helped by Young, granted) and a non-factor going forward. (4)

Antonio Valencia – Another who shone against Leverkusen but took a real step back here. Switched off completely for City’s opener and offered nothing at all going forward. Glaring contrast between the United wingers and their City counterparts. (4)

Michael Carrick – Outshone by Cleverley against Chelsea, poor at Anfield and woeful here. Not helped by the lack of movement ahead or the indecision behind but for all his quality, still falls short too often in big games and/or against quality midfields. Often starts seasons slowly but there’s no real reason or justification for that. (4)

Marouane Fellaini – A serious reality check after an encouraging full debut. These are the sorts of games everyone has suggested he’d make the difference in but looked out of his depth. Lacked mobility, barely made a tackle and his inability to track Aguero for the third was a staggeringly basic error for someone many view as a defensive midfielder. Decision to move him forward at 0-4 rather than introduce Kagawa, Nani or Hernández was bemusing. Early days of course, but those Reds who said the Belgian could be ‘our Yaya Toure’ must be cringing after this mismatch. (3)


Ashley Young – I hate United fans’ constant need for a scapegoat – it’s getting England-esque – but our Ashley doesn’t half make it easy. He’s not United quality and shouldn’t be starting these games – the tame, wayward crosses and constant losses of possession showed that. That’s no excuse to slate him as long as he’s trying his best, but when you see him give the ball away and then watch on disinterested as City break to net their fourth, it’s galling to say the least, especially when the only reasons people can produce for him starting these games are workrate and defensive diligence/discipline (and in fairness, the same could pretty much be said about Valencia). (2)

Wayne Rooney – Along with his strike partner, the only ones who at least showed the required level of desire and commitment. That’s heartening, but can’t help feeling that it – together with his stunning consolation goal – masked an otherwise patchy display which has been somewhat overrated in the need to find straws to clutch. Still the best United had to offer though. (6, Man of the Match/Best of a Bad Bunch)

Danny Welbeck – The only Manc on the pitch certainly wasn’t found wanting in terms of desire but had a frustrating afternoon, a couple of early slips/miscontrols as good as it got before a total lack of service made him a peripheral figure at best. A shame given he was handed a rare chance to lead the line by RvP’s absence, but in his defence, the Dutchman would have done well to produce much more feeding off such scraps (Exhibit A: Anfield three weeks ago). (4)


Tom Cleverley (for Young) – In hindsight, should probably have started in a midfield 3, although few suggested this beforehand, with Fellaini’s potential impact perhaps being overstated. Looked like a bizarre, ‘after the horse had bolted’ introduction but kept the ball well, pressed with an intent lacking in his teammates and showed real desire, which should be a given but can’t always be that easy when you’re thrown on at 0-4 and on a hiding to nothing. City had of course switched to cruise control, so let’s not go overboard, but does tend to do well in the bigger games. (6)

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