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Player Ratings: Manchester United 2-1 Villarreal

Ratings in after an interesting win…

Manchester United v Villarreal CF: Group F - UEFA Champions League Photo by Manuel Queimadelos/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Here are the player ratings from Manchester United’s Fergie time win over Villarreal.

David De Gea: 10/10

The only reason United were even in a match that they had no business being in.

Diogo Dalot: 1/10

Aaron Wan-Bissaka is not going to have any problem walking back into the starting XI, he’s too important defensively to this team. But at least Dalot looks smoother than him when launching bad crosses.

Raphael Varane: 5/10

Neither center back played particularly well but it’s also hard to find any blame with them when they were left isolated and exposed over and over again.

Victor Lindelof: 5/10

Same thing as Varane. Did a good job putting out fires that never should have started in the first place.

Alex Telles: 5/10

Showed why United signed him with his ability to strike that volley for the goal. Now there’s just that annoying “defending” part of the job that a left back needs to do. Hard to remember him having an accurate cross other than the early corner to Ronaldo.

Scott McTominay: 5/10

McTominay isn’t a holding midfielder and it was kind of foolish to play him as one. Defensively he was left isolated the whole match which made his job even more difficult. In possession he was taking up very weird positions between Villarreal’s forwards, effectively marking himself out of being an option for United’s defenders.

Paul Pogba: 3/10

Was pushed higher in the 4-3-3 to what is typically referred to as his preferred position. Struggled to have any impact and his withdrawal was not unjust.

Bruno Fernandes: 5/10

Moved to the right side of midfield in the 4-3-3 which seemed to take some of the air out his game. He moved around well to get on the ball but there’s still something lacking. Called the play for Telles on the free kick and followed that up with a superb strike.

Mason Greenwood: 3/10

Made a bunch of runs to open himself up but other than that wasn’t too effective. He still hasn’t quite figured out where he belongs with Ronaldo in the set up.

Jadon Sancho: 7/10

He was the only positive among United’s forward line, taking the ball running at defenders, and trying to make things happen. All that and United were still using him as a touchline winger when he could be so much more.

Cristiano Ronaldo: 6/10

That’s why you have Ronaldo. Spent most of the game not doing much and struggling to make an impact. Then struck when it counts.

Substitutes

Nemanja Matic: 7/10

Brought balance and a forward drive to United’s midfield. United’s best chance at silverware this season is to give Matic steroids.

Edinson Cavani: 6/10

Brought energy up front. Ran down a Matic through ball that Ronaldo had given up on which says a lot. Missed a chance right in front. Overall he made an impact off the bench.

Jesse Lingard: N/A

Came on and gave something United had been lacking all game. Dynamic runs in the box. No surprise he played a role on the winner.

Fred: N/A

I’m sure a bunch of eyebrows were raised when Fred replaced Alex Telles in the closing minutes. Vindicated the choice when he provided the cross for the winner. Possibly the first accurate one we’d seen from open play all night.

Manager

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: 2/10

A change needed to be made and given the absences of Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire Solskjaer opted for an attacking ‘you score three we’ll score four’ 4-3-3 setup. The different setup certainly contributed to some clunkiness from United but overall it was just terrible. The midfield were leaving gaps all over the place and completely leaving United’s weakened back line exposed. It looked awfully similar to the 3-1 loss to Crystal Palace on the opening day of the season last year. “Coincidentally” that’s the last time Ole deployed the Pogba-McTominay-Bruno midfield playing as more of a three.

The thinking behind going with a 4-3-3 may have been there but the formation quickly became a 4-5-1 with United’s wingers having to play much deeper. That’s what happens to a 4-3-3 when you can’t maintain possession and a midfield three of McTominay, Pogba, and Bruno Fernandes was never going to keep possession in a million years.

Now again, I understand the change but where Ole failed was when United went into the dressing at half time with United lucky to not be down, it was obvious a change needed to be made and he just... didn’t change anything! Except for up United’s pressing even though they had a striker who doesn’t do that on the pitch, which just lead to the game being even more open. Somehow he looked at the wide open-ness of the Villa match on Saturday and thought “we need more of that.”

After going with the starting XI for entirely too long Ole’s changes were once again bizarre. Matic for Pogba makes sense, stability in the midfield and Pogba was one of a number of names not making an impact who could have made way. Removing Jadon Sancho - the only player who looked like was doing anything was certainly a head scratcher.

Ole was ultimately vindicated in the final minutes when he threw everything and the kitchen sink onto the pitch and got a late winner. Nevertheless it was a poorly managed game and a poorly played game where United were lucky to come out with three points. Right now that’s all that matters but this coaching staff better get to work during the international break to sort out the MASSIVE issues in the squad.

Really a 1/10 performance but he gets a second point for keeping his tie on all the way through to full time. We knew that’s the real reason for all three points. As long as the tie stays on the football will sort itself out.