Manchester United paid the price for defensive lapses again as Tottenham secured a rather unceremonious 3-0 win at Old Trafford on Monday night.
That people hate Mondays is already an established fact. But, Monday night proved to be quite tough to swallow for Manchester United fans. After a rather dominant 45 minutes of football, they saw their team commit crimes at the back, crimes that did not go unpunished as a clinical Tottenham took to the field in the second half.
Defensive lapses and cutting edge was all that separated the two teams, with the scoreline not doing justice to the way Manchester United had pressurised the away side on Monday night. We take a look at how the individuals fared.
David De Gea – 6
De Gea could do nothing to stop Harry Kane’s header. Once the Tottenham superstar connected, it was always going into the top corner and the Spaniard could only watch it sail into the back of the net. The two goals that followed though, Manchester United fans would have hoped De Gea would be able to stop at least one of them, if not both.
After all, this is the standard that the Spaniard has set for himself now. He is expected to save shots like that. De Gea did have one good moment as he rescued Victor Lindelof out in the second half after a short back-pass saw Dele Alli through on the goal. Still, De Gea does not seem to be in the same groove as the previous few seasons.
Antonio Valencia – 6
Did not do much. Valencia ventured forward a lot. But, he was always missing the end product. Perhaps, the only decent cross that connected was with Fred late on in the second half. Needs to do much more.
Chris Smalling – 5
Was at fault for the third goal as he went to the ground too quickly and Lucas Moura evaded his tackle to go one-on-one with David De Gea. Could not do much to avoid the first goal. Should start in the next matchday as well.
Phil Jones – 4
His misjudgement with Harry Kane led to the first goal. Was caught out of position for the second goal. Came off soon after with an injury. The frustration continues.
Luke Shaw – 8
Manchester United’s best player on the pitch and perhaps, in the season thus far. Shaw was always marauding ahead to join up in attack. His unrelenting pressure to take the ball back showed how desperate he is to prove himself this season. One of the few players who seemed to be laying their all on the field on Monday.
Was rightly consoled and patted on the back by Mourinho after the final whistle.
Ander Herrera – 5
Even in the first half, Jose Mourinho’s decision to play Ander Herrera as, practically a third centre-back, seemed to be misfiring. While it did add a layer of safety, Herrera was caught out thrice in the first half itself. The Spaniard is not used to playing so deep inside the defensive third and it showed.
Once Tottenham came out in the second half as a clinical side, Herrera’s positional errors were visible more to the naked eye. Was brought off as Jose Mourinho looked to push for goals.
Nemanja Matic – 6
Matic did not put too much of a foot wrong during the match. But, it is clear the Serb cannot play in advanced positions against a side as capable as Tottenham. Should have been played as the third centre-back instead of Herrera.
Fred – 6.5
Nothing seemed to be coming off for the Brazilian. But, he never gave up. Even when the chips were down 3-0, it looked like Fred was one of the only players to continue pressuring towards the other side in hoping of snatching a goal. Unlucky.
Paul Pogba – 5
Honestly, if Paul Pogba wants to go, Manchester United should let him leave. The Frenchman is dragging the team down. Jose Mourinho played him as part of the front three and yet, he provided nothing useful on the pitch. Did force Lloris into making saves, though. He cut a frustrated figure on the pitch and it seems he just doesn’t have the desire to play for United anymore.
His inconsistency continues to hurt Manchester United. Could very well be dropped by Mourinho.
Jesse Lingard – 6.5
Another player who was unrelenting in his job. Continued making darting runs but did not receive the balls as much from his teammates, who were unable to find him on any of his adventurous runs.
Romelu Lukaku – 4
You cannot be a Manchester United forward and miss clear-cut chances like Romelu Lukaku did against Tottenham. His failure to find the back of an empty net set the stage for a profligate 45 minutes where United pressured and were dominant but had no goals to show for it.
Tottenham showed how to convert phases of dominance into goals. But, this reflects more on the difference of quality between Lukaku and Kane, unfortunately.
Lukaku was never comfortable during the match. With the physique he has, he never seemed to be able to bully the Tottenham defenders. Needs to do much more as the lead striker for Manchester United.
Alexis Sanchez – 7
Could not figure out as to why Alexis Sanchez did not start in the first place. Looked fit when he came on and was the most threatening Manchester United player on the pitch. Mourinho needs to sort out his best eleven. But, it is clear Alexis Sanchez should be a part of it.
Victor Lindelof – 3
At this moment, I feel like there are two Victor Lindelofs in the footballing world. The Lindelof that plays international football for Sweden has never managed to turn up for Manchester United. Monday night provided further evidence of why Manchester United cannot rely on Lindelof, at least for the time being.
Marouane Fellaini – 6
It’s strange to see Fellaini come on and having an impact as he has been doing in the past two games. While the Belgian was again a threat after coming on, bringing him on with Marcus Rashford on the bench is baffling. Jose Mourinho is in his third season but it still feels like the first, as far as his team selection is concerned.