If Manchester United were trying to find a way to take their lack of cutting edge to new dizzy heights, they found a way of achieving that away to AZ Alkmaar.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side barely troubled the Alkmaar goal and question marks surrounding the team’s ability to create and score goals will continue after United’s latest drab performance.

United fans will be hoping for a dramatic improvement in entertainment against Newcastle United on Sunday before the international break.

Here is a look at three players who struggled to impose themselves on the game, plus one who had a real day to forget.

Dan James

(Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)

James has been a revelation since his summer move from Swansea City, but he looked lost in the number nine role, with Mason Greenwood being deployed in an inside right forward position.

The Welshman was at his industrious best, working hard for the team, but he failed to receive the supply to get in behind Alkmaar’s defence and have any clear cut chances created for him.

United’s number 21 was replaced by Marcus Rashford after 63 minutes on a disappointing night and it was not a surprise.

One positive was that James did manage to create a chance for Greenwood after latching onto a pass from Dalot, but Greenwood’s shot was blocked by Ron Vlaar.

There will be better nights ahead for James and an injection of creativity around him, will see the speedster have a greater influence on matches.

Juan Mata

(Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)

The Spaniard was deployed in his favoured number 10 position, but on too many occasions he was coming too deep to collect possession, which gave Alkmaar’s defenders breathing space.


Mata failed to impress on a night where a positive performance could have enhanced his chances of starting against Newcastle in the same role.

The former Chelsea man doesn’t have the pace and power to hurt opponents, his successful career has been built on his vision and guile, but those attributes were never showcased in Holland.

The 31-year-old could benefit from a late injury to Jesse Lingard, with United’s injury headache striking once again.


(Photo by Soccrates/Getty Images)

A string of impressive cameo displays had United fans convinced that Fred was finally showing signs of the player that made the club’s hierarchy fork out £47 million to secure his signature.

However, the Brazilian’s performance against Alkmaar was yet another backwards step in his development. His sloppiness in possession was apparent throughout the match, and he was often caught dwelling on the ball.

Fred’s performance highlighted why Solskjaer has a clear reluctance to trust the midfielder in big games where the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool would punish United if Fred lost the ball so cheaply.

Nights like this really don’t help his cause, and he needs to improve.

And it was also a terrible day for Jesse Lingard

(Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Lingard looked like he had a point to prove when he came off the bench and he nearly scored the winner, after he collected a smart pass from fellow sub Scott McTominay, he fired a shot just past the far top corner.

On a day where Gareth Southgate decided not to pick Lingard ahead of England’s upcoming European qualifiers, United played out the latter stages of the match in the Netherlands with 10 men, after Lingard limped off straight down the tunnel with a muscle injury.

He is now likely to miss this weekend’s game with Newcastle.

Have something to tell us about this article?