An atrocious midfield and attacking display paved the way for another frustrating night on the road as Manchester United played out a tame 0-0 draw with AZ Alkmaar.
With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ringing in the changes once again for a midweek game, it was time for the youngsters and fringe players to show their mettle. But, a lack of experience coupled with the absence of a creative spark meant that Manchester United produced ninety minutes of dreadful football, failing to capture the imagination.
In fact, it was AZ Alkmaar who created the meaningful chances over the course of the game, with David de Gea staying alert to keep an effort by Oussama Idrissi out. On the other end, Manchester United could not even muster up one shot on target.
The only time Manchester United seemed to be hopeful of getting something out of the game was when second half substitute Marcus Rashford was fouled inside the AZ box by Stijn Wuytens. But, the referee inexplicably did not reward the visitors a penalty, as the game trickled down to the full-time whistle. Following the drab draw, The Hard Tackle runs the rule over Solskjaer’s men.
David de Gea: 7/10
A surprise starter ahead of Sergio Romero. Even though AZ Alkmaar took the game to Manchester United, it was a quiet evening for David de Gea. But, when called into action, the Spaniard stuck to his guns, making one fine save to deny Oussama Idrissi.
Diogo Dalot: 7/10
Diogo Dalot’s game by numbers vs. AZ Alkmaar:
75% final third pass accuracy
4 successful take-ons (most on pitch)
7 ball recoveries
2 crosses blocked
1 key pass
0 goals conceded
Good to have him back. 🇵🇹 pic.twitter.com/qvRs7txeWf
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) October 3, 2019
Fit again, Dalot expectedly returned to the starting lineup and once again impressed in what was a rare appearance for him. In fact, at times, it looked as if he was the only player willing to take a risk in the final third. Did struggle defensively for parts of the game against the tricky Idrissi.
But, the Portuguese managed to recover well, making an impressive 7 ball recoveries. Completed the most take-ons on the night (4) while also creating perhaps, the only meaningful chance of the game for Manchester United.
Victor Lindelof: 7/10
With Axel Tuanzebe not starting and Phil Jones injured, Lindelof played from the off. And, the Swede used his guile and experience to good effect, negating Myron Boadu for much of the game. Alongside Dalot, the shining light in an otherwise horrendous Manchester United side.
Marcos Rojo: 6/10
Brandon Williams was given a chance to impress on the left, meaning Rojo was deployed at the heart of the Manchester United defence this time around. Struggled to adapt to the astroturf in the early exchanges but soon found his feet. Largely assured thereafter, leaving very little room to exploit. A handy squad option for the Europa League and cup fixtures.
Brandon Williams: 6/10
In what was his first-ever start for Manchester United, Williams had his fair share of struggles and nervy moments over the course of the game. Lucky to not be penalised for a foul inside the box. But, it was not all doom and gloom as Williams learned from his mistakes and looked threatening on the odd occasion when he bombarded forward. Decent enough.
Nemanja Matic: 5/10
Chances have been hard to come by for Matic this season and his performance against AZ Alkmaar proved exactly why. The Serb hardly looked to take risks when on the ball and was frustratingly wasteful in possession. And, as is the case usually, his lack of mobility meant that he struggled to contribute on the defensive front as well. One of the players who need to be offloaded.
This was Fred’s chance to impress his manager and command more playing time. But, on the evidence of Thursday’s performance, he is unlikely to get many starts in the weeks to come. Tasked with transitioning from defence to attack smoothly, the Brazilian was sloppy on the ball and did nothing of note. Might be running out of opportunities.
Juan Mata: 5/10
In the build-up to the game, Solskjaer had called on Mata to be the senior figure to guide the young stars in attack. But, the Spaniard failed to step up, showing very little imagination bar a few incisive passes. Not helped by a lack of movement around him but he should be doing much much more.
Angel Gomes: 5/10
A struggle of an evening for Gomes, who was shunted out to the left side of the attack for much of the game. Looked extremely uncomfortable playing in an unfavourable position and slowly drifted out of the game. Quite inexplicable of Solskjaer to stick Gomes out on the wings.
Daniel James: 6/10
Another player whose position was tinkered with by Solskjaer. Over the course of the game, James played on the right and through the middle, looking out of sorts in both positions. But, the Welsh winger was one of the few players who looked to make things happen and his link-up with Dalot provided rare moments of promise. Surprisingly the first player to be taken off.
Mason Greenwood: 5/10
Greenwood was the player to watch out for in our preview of the game, but he too, ended up having an off-day. Had the two best chances of the game coming his way. But, while one of his shots was blocked, he could not provide the finishing touches to the other opportunity. Will see better days.
Marcus Rashford: 5/10
Another ‘senior’ player who failed to turn up. Rashford was given ample time to turn the tide and get his side all three points. But, the English international just cannot seem to do anything right at the moment, as his slump carries on. The lack of form was best exemplified by a horrible free-kick. But, he should have been awarded a penalty after being fouled by Stijn Wuytens.
Jesse Lingard: N/A
On for the final 13 minutes of the game, Lingard looked more enterprising than most players who started and came close with a late effort. But, he added to Manchester United’s injury woes late on, going off feeling his hamstring.
Scott McTominay: N/A
Given the final seven minutes on the pitch. Hardly had time to make an impact but Manchester United were visibly better during his cameo.