De Gea – 6 – Effectively unemployed
Darmian – 6 – Perhaps should have had a penalty in stoppage time in the first half. Replays didn’t provide a conclusive answer over whether or not there was contact. Wasn’t poor, but when you are missing Antonio Valencia as a right back it tells you all you need to know.
Blind – 7 – Dealt responsibly with the discomfort of his right sided position and was steady.
Rojo – 5 – The Argentinian defender is subject to a case of the reverse Mkhitaryan – his reputation has suffered in his absence from the team. It’s clear that he is not really of the standard one expects of a United defender but he doesn’t always have stinkers and against opposition like Burnley Mourinho might well get away with it. Defensively, at least. His injury time thirty yard effort was shameful and costly.
Shaw – 6 – Incredible recovery tackle early in the first half which was more about his exceptional positioning, but could have perhaps been more helpful going forward.
Herrera – 5 – Booked in the first half for the kind of tackle that is becoming worryingly commonplace in the Spaniard’s game; one would think he’s one late challenge away from being known as ‘not that sort of player’ to becoming one who referees have an eye out for. And that’s for the one challenge – Mark Clattenburg isn’t the kind of referee you want to give time and an excuse to and it seemed inevitable that one challenge in the second half would earn the second yellow. It came at a time when it felt equally inevitable that United would score. The reduction to ten men made it easier for the visitors who were in infinitely more comfort for the final third of the game. It was the sort of indiscipline, which cost United, which could count against the player at a time when it was beginning to seem as if he was the first name on the team sheet in midfield.
Pogba – 6 – In this period of hyper-reaction, anything less than a barnstorming performance would inevitably attract criticism. Pogba was okay but this was a run of the mill performance and, at the risk of saying the same thing for the fourth consecutive league game, this is the kind of game you look to the Frenchman for inspiration.
Lingard – 6 – Denied by one of Heaton’s exceptional saves (arguably the best save of an impressive bunch) but while industrious is beginning to feel increasingly like a selection wasted.
Mata – 7 – Wonderful invention to fashion a chance for himself that hit the post in the 66th minute and seemed like the obvious player to make a difference. Herrera’s dismissal apparently necessitated a crude change from Mourinho as United attempted to force an advantage.
Rashford – 5 – Always bright but ineffectual for large periods.
Ibrahimovic – 6 – His contribution in link up play was probably enough to justify his selection and was denied on the hour mark by the exceptional Heaton. Conversely, the Swede had 11 of United’s 30-odd chances on goal and his 90th minute chance should have been buried.
Mourinho – 6 – There is at least consistency to be found in the inconsistency. Woodwork, profligacy and dominance at home. An embarrassment of riches in set pieces. A mixed understanding of his squad and unusual choices as substitutes. His United team had 37 shots, nineteen corners, and more than two thirds of the ball. They hit the woodwork four times. This was a game they should have won and on another day would have – or should have. Maybe if Herrera had stayed on, or been brought off before he was ordered, then we’d be talking about a different result.
But the red card didn’t need to be the end of United’s hopes of winning the game and perhaps it’s here where the manager needs to learn more about his squad. Marouane Fellaini’s over-performance in the early weeks of the season fooled few who have seen this for three years – three years! – and even his stature as an effective plan B is not what it may have felt like in 2013. The manager left Mkhitaryan out of the squad and brought on Fellaini instead of Carrick. The frustration in lack of confidence from some of the players does not mean that Wayne Rooney has improved.
One can point to the probable penalty in the first half and the probability that on average, United would win such a game, but similar was said against Stoke City. At present this is all a bit 1980’s United, and one could re-present those statistics to say only 11 were on target from twenty in the box. It is incredibly wasteful finishing and that suggests that the quality players, by and large – or at least, the chemistry in the selection – is not quite what you would expect. This is the overwhelming thought after watching United. They dominated and statistically were clearly the boss team. Anyone watching the game could predict how it would pan out after the sending off and that is partly down to the manager.
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