The Premier League took a pause for the last 10 days as the suits who only care about money over at FIFA decided that a global pandemic was a fine time to take people in (relatively) confined bubbles and ship them all over the world to play football. At times like these not a single one of those matches had any importance but some managed to be even less important (dead rubbers) and some completely ridiculous (extra friendlies). Nevertheless, 12 Manchester United players took part. Here’s how they did.
David de Gea (Spain)
Met up with the Spanish team to potentially catch COVID and bring it back to United. Seems to have lost his place as Spain’s #1 so he didn’t have to actually play.
Dean Henderson (England)
Came on for the second half of England’s friendly against Ireland stopping the three shots he faced to keep a clean sheet.
Harry Maguire (England)
Got the (deserved) honor of captaining England and capped off the occasion with a goal in England’s 3-0 friendly win over Ireland. Was (thankfully) suspended for the Nations League match against Belgium but played in the completely meaningless one against Iceland because of course Gareth Southgate did that.
Victor Lindelöf (Sweden)
Played 90 minutes in a 2-1 win over Croatia then played 65 minutes against France where he was in obvious discomfort and grabbed his back several times. He’s already missed a few games for United this season due to his back but despite him clearly being injured Sweden played him on Tuesday and didn’t even bother taking him off at halftime. Great.
Teden Mengi (England)
November 14, 2020
Mengi posted this tweet during the break giving off the impression he was training with one of England’s youth teams this week. The Wikipedia page for England’s U19s says he was called up to the squad but he wasn’t listed in the match reports for either of their U19 Euro 2020 qualifying matches against North Macedonia or Bosnia & Herzegovina so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. But hey you know who did play in those games?
Ethan Laird (England)
Completed 180 minutes at right-back in England’s U19s two wins, scoring a goal against Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Alex Telles (Brazil)
After (finally) recovering from COVID-19 but having to be left out of the squad at Goodison Park because he had zero match fitness, Manchester United (and Alex Telles) allowed Alex Telles to fly to Brazil where he could be exposed to COVID again, come on in the 96th minute of Brazil’s 1-0 win over Venezuela and then miss their match against Uruguay because he... tested positive for COVID again?
I didn’t even know it was possible to get COVID twice in such close succession. It’s not really clear what’s going on. Telles has apparently tested positive, tested negative, is positive but isn’t contagious anymore (that’s a thing?). Who knows! It just begs the question, what the f*ck are we doing?
Scott McTominay (Scotland)
Once again slotted in on the right of a back three and converted his penalty to help Scotland overcome Serbia and qualify for Euro 2020. Appeared again as a CB against Israel. Luckily only played two of the three games.
Paul Pogba (France)
Wouldn’t be an international break without Pogba being in the news for something he said. This time his coach, Didier Deschamps, even joined in saying that Pogba can’t be happy at United because Ole Gunnar Solskjaer keeps playing him out of position as a deep midfielder. Deschamps followed that up by playing Pogba AS HIS DEEPEST MIDFIELDER (seriously, deeper than N’Golo Kante) against Portugal and then as part of a two man pivot against Sweden.
Anyway, Pogba played 56 minutes in a friendly and all 180 Nations League minutes in the span of six days. That’s not what you want to see but he does need the match fitness. He played well in both Nations League matches so hopefully he’ll build some confidence. All the keyboard warriors acting like they’ve never slipped and fallen before as they slagged him off for Sweden’s first goal was a nice reminder that our online fanbase sucks.
Bruno Fernandes (Portugal)
The good news is he only played 116 minutes out of a possible 270 which is probably the best United could have hoped for. On the pitch this wasn’t one of Bruno’s best showings (and the fact that he still hasn’t been able to consistently find his form is concerning).
Just like it’s not an international break without comments from Pogba, it’s not an international break without United releasing some PR pieces about Bruno. This month we learned that he absolutely decimated his four year old daughter at Uno. Some called that a little crazy but frankly, if you’re old enough to drop back-to-back +4’s when your opponent is sitting on uno then it’s fair game. Uno is no holds barred. Don’t pick up the cards if you can’t handle the heat.
Donny van de Beek (Netherlands)
For players like Paul Pogba international football might be a vacation but for Donny van de Beek it’s just like his day job. Scored the lone goal for the Dutch in their friendly against Spain — causing a predictable reaction from United fans — only to be dropped for both the competitive games. International football, it’s just like club football!
Daniel James (Wales)
Played 90 minutes on the right wing vs Ireland and was fine? I don’t know, I didn’t watch this match and neither did you. But you know what you did see? That goal against Finland. Came on for about 20 minutes in the friendly against the USA and actually looked half decent, which probably says more about the USMNT.
Marcus Rashford (England)
Hobbled off the pitch at Goodison Park with a shoulder injury and then, ridiculously and needlessly, reported to St. James Park amid a global pandemic only for everyone to say “Yup, you’ve got a shoulder injury. Go home and rest up.”
Thankfully he got some much needed rest but again.. WHY??
Anthony Martial (France)
Played a half hour in France’s 2-0 loss to Finland and followed that up with a brilliant performance against Portugal. Martial’s movement and runs were sensational resulting in several good opportunities. Could have easily had two or three goals if not for an excellent performance from Portugal keeper Rui Patricio.
Missed Tuesday’s match against Sweden as Deschamps said his back was bothering him and...uhhh guys, should we be concerned about that?
Edinson Cavani (Uruguay)
Opened the scoring within five minutes Friday night against Colombia. Followed that up by getting sent off vs Brazil.
That’s a pretty good break for Cavani. Played 149 minutes to boost up that match fitness and the straight red card should rule him out of flying to South America for the next international break in March. Except OH YEA, HE’S BEEN VERY MUCH EXPOSED TO COVID-19! WHY ARE WE DOING THIS???
Edinson Cavani has been in close contact with various Uruguayan players and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19— utdreport (@utdreport) November 17, 2020
Mason Greenwood (England)
Based on current form alone Greenwood didn’t deserve to be called up to the England squad this month and was rightfully left off. But that didn’t stop the British from making him the sole story.
Jadon Sancho scored a goal assisted by Jack Grealish and Jude Bellingham became the youngest debutant in quite some time for England showing the Reds continue to provide the backbone for England’s national team. Man that was depressing to write. What a sobering reminder that United don’t have nearly as much money as they claim they do.