The Hard Tackle takes a look at how Manchester United players fared over the course of the last two weeks, following the end of the international break
The dreaded international break has come and gone, and club football action is set to resume soon. One club that may have welcomed the fortnight-long break for a change are Manchester United, who have gone through a mixed start to their 2018-19 Premier League campaign.
While they have lost two of their first four games this season, results haven’t been the only detractors for them, what with reports of Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba facing an uncertain future at Old Trafford. But, the international break served as a way for some of the Manchester United superstars to bounce back to form after an indifferent start to the season.
As many as 14 Manchester United players were called up to their national sides in the first international break of the season. And we, at The Hard Tackle, will now run the rule over some of Jose Mourinho’s men during the last fortnight.
David De Gea: 6/10
The Manchester United no. 1 managed to retain his place as the first-choice custodian for Spain, and De Gea was solid for the most part. In La Furia Roja’s first game of the international break, the 27-year-old had to be thanked as he made a couple of solid saves to deny Marcus Rashford.
But, he also got lucky with a refereeing error, as after spilling a regulation catch, Danny Welbeck put the ball into the back of the net only to be pulled back for a foul he didn’t commit. In Spain’s second UEFA Nations League clash though, De Gea was a mere spectator as Luis Enrique & co. handed a humbling defeat to the World Cup finalists. All in all, a solid international break.
Sergio Romero: N/A
Romero’s inclusion in the Argentina National Squad came as a bit of a surprise, considering he has not even been included in one matchday squad so far this season by Jose Mourinho, who has cited a knee injury as the reason for the same. But, the Manchester United backup goalkeeper couldn’t notch up a single minute of action in the two games that La Albiceleste played.
Eric Bailly: 6/10
Bailly played the only game that Ivory Coast played in the first international break of the season, racking up 83 minutes of action as Les Elephants notched up a 2-1 win over Rwanda in African Cup of Nations qualifying. A solid outing for the most part, which would have worked wonders for his confidence.
Victor Lindelof: 6.5/10
Lindelof featured in just one of Sweden’s two fixtures in the international break, having been an unused substitute against Austria. In their UEFA Nations League curtain raiser though, the 24-year-old started, and displayed exactly the kind of composure that would serve him well at Manchester United.
He was also only partly at fault for the 3 goals that Turkey scored to complete the comeback win, thus proving to be a solid customer for the most part.
Luke Shaw: 8/10
Shaw too, featured in just one of the games that his country played, albeit his non-selection in the second tie was completely out of his control. The 23-year-old was evidently continuing a solid start to the season and even provided the assist for England’s only goal against Spain.
But, his good run came to an end, when a challenge from Dani Carvajal knocked him out completely, and gave him a concussion. Stretchered off the pitch while being administered with oxygen, Shaw is now a major doubt for Manchester United’s first game post the international break.
Nemanja Matic: 7/10
Matic was typically solid as Serbia eased to a 1-0 win over Lithuania in their opening game of the UEFA Nations League. Donning the armband, the 30-year-old produced a no-nonsense performance as the Serbs collected all three points. Against Romania, Matic came on for the final 20 minutes to ease the nerves as the visitors looked to be in the ascendancy.
Andreas Pereira: 5/10
Pereira had an international break to remember, even though he clocked up just 20 minutes of action. But, his substitute appearance against El Salvador saw him become the first first foreign-born player to represent Brazil in over 100 years. Pereira indeed made those 20 minutes count in what could be the start to a cherished international career.
Unlike his compatriot, Fred featured in both the games that Brazil played, starting one and coming off the bench in the other. Sitting alongside Casemiro in the middle of the park against USA, Fred was unassuming as the Selecao recorded their first win following the disastrous end to their World Cup campaign.
Paul Pogba: 6/10
It was a mixed couple of outings for Pogba, much in the same pattern as he has done at Manchester United. The 25-year-old was largely anonymous in a drab goalless draw against Germany, but pulled his socks up to shore up the midfield alongside N’Golo Kante as France narrowly beat Netherlands 2-1. Jose Mourinho would hope his star midfielder continues from where he left off against the Dutchmen.
Marouane Fellaini: N/A
Initially picked for Belgium, Fellaini sustained a back injury which saw him withdraw from the squad without even kicking the ball.
Scott McTominay: N/A
McTominay continued to enjoy the confidence of Alex McLeish, but he could muster up just 11 minutes of action, coming off the bench in Scotland’s second game as they beat Albania.
Jesse Lingard: 6/10
As was the case at the 20018 FIFA World Cup, Lingard was an integral part of Gareth Southgate’s side this past week. Playing from start to finish, the 25-year-old was typically lively as he kept play ticking against a solid Spain side. Lingard was a second half substitute against Switzerland, and was a bundle of energy as England narrowly beat the Swiss.
Marcus Rashford: 9/10
Rashford was the pick of the bunch as far as Manchester United’s international players were concerned, grabbing both the goals that England scored in their two games. And, both the finishes were out of the top drawer, as the 20-year-old filled Raheem Sterling’s void with aplomb.
He could have perhaps, done better with the other chances that came his way, but Rashford was a clear standout for the Three Lions during the international break. Performances like these two will surely help with his confidence, especially after being dismissed in Manchester United’s last game, against Burnley.
Romelu Lukaku: 9/10
Lukaku built up his form during the international break as well, scoring three goals in two games, and playing a key role in Belgium’s victorious start in the UEFA Nations League. There was a touch of luck in one of his goals, but the striker was typically industrious and enterprising, which got him goals in the first place. Mourinho will hope to see similar form from his number one striker going forward.