Manchester United let their fans down again in Europe, but who really preformed below par?
After Saturday’s game against Burnley, many Manchester United supporters were unsatisfied with the way the season was going. The high of knocking local rivals Manchester City out of the EFL Cup was followed by the low of being unable to put one of United’s 37 shots past Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton. Although, positives can be drawn from the Premier League result; United created a huge amount of chances and conceded very few, the basic formula for winning football matches. Against Fenerbahçe a fortnight ago, United dominated the game and scored four goals in a game for only the second time this season. However, the Turkish side had not lost a Europa League game at home in five matches, meaning the Reds would really have to up their game if they wanted to repeat the home scoring feat.
Jose Mourinho kept the same back four which cleaned efficiently against Burnley, but rotated his attacking options. Rooney and Martial started in the place of Ibrahimović and Lingard. Pogba was once again moved into his more comfortable position behind the striker to accommodate Schneiderlin alongside Herrera in deeper midfield. Mkhitaryan, who had been the back page gossip for more than a week for his absence from the squad, was included in the match-going 18 for the first time since the Premier League Manchester Derby.
United started poorly, conceding an incredible (but defendable) bicycle kick inside the first two minutes, and continued that way, only creating one real clear cut scoring opportunity in the first half and allowing Fenerbahçe to look dangerous with every attack. An injury to Pogba and a poor first half performance from Schneiderlin forced Mourinho to bring on Mata and Ibrahimović before the second half. After the break United pushed forward more vigorously but left themselves horribly exposed for counter attacks. Jeremy Lens punished United with a fantastic free kick which put the game to bed. Rooney managed to grab a consolation goal with a thirty yard strike but the celebrations were non-existent as the players knew they had not deserved anything out of the game.
De Gea: 6
Nothing he could do about Moussa Sow’s overhead kick, but probably could have put in more effort for Lens’ strike in the second half. Redeemed himself with two very good saves from Emenike when Fenerbahçe were pushing for a third.
Hugged the touchline and darted forward well but produced zero end product when it came to creating chances. His poor control let him down when Rooney had played a smart through ball to him in the first half and he struggled to get back and help his centre backs when Fenerbahçe broke in the second half. A 63% pass accuracy is not good enough.
A highlight reel for the purpose of proving that the Dutchman is not a centre back could have been made from the Thursday night game. Was outmatched against the speed and strength of Moussa Sow and failed to track Emenike in the second half which almost led to a third goal for the Turkish side. His forward passing was also way below par; he gave away the ball to Sow in Fenerbahçe’s half to give the Turkish side a four-on-two scenario just before half time.
Another semi-decent performance from the Argentinian at centre half. Won 100% of his tackles and made seven no-nonsense clearances which eased the pressure on the rest of the back four. Was caught in no-mans-land by Lens in the second half but that was more the fault of United’s lack of midfielders back defending than Rojo himself.
Had a torrid time against Lens who beat the young Englishman time after time in a similar fashion to Jesus Navas in the EFL Cup the previous week. Like Darmian, got forward often but failed to add any real impetus to United’s attacking momentum. Put in a good ball for Ibrahimović in the second half. Won zero tackles, headers or dribbles.
Was given the role of anchoring United’s midfield but offered next to nothing in creativity; the majority of his passes were backwards or sideways. Was spared from conceding a penalty in the first half by inches. Did not make any interceptions and only two tackles was not enough for Mourinho to have faith in the Frenchman for the second half.
Another poor late challenge earned the Spaniard a booking in the 18th minute; if his disciplinary record does not get any better soon Herrera will be spending a lot of time out with suspensions. Was tasked with the anchor midfield role in the second half when Schneiderlin was replaced by Mata but did not offer much protection to the back four. His awful back tracking led to Emenike’s brilliant chance in the 68th minute.
Looked promising in the early stages, probably, because the Frenchman was playing in the same position which saw him grow at Juventus; the left hand side of a three-man midfield. Showed brilliant vision and technique to pick out a Darmian overlap in the 17th minute. Suffered a nasty looking injury to his ankle after a clash with Souza. Attempted to run it off but was subsequently replaced by Ibrahimović on the 30th minute.
Struggled to be his dynamic and explosive self; was subdued by the joint effort of Kaldirim and Sen on the left wing. Had a promising five minutes after half an hour where he went on a mazy run and then set up Rooney with a smart backheel but became anonymous for the rest of the match. Substituted by Mourinho in the second half for Mkhitaryan.
Had a 7 out of 10 first half but a 5 out of 10 second. Played a brilliant disguised pass to Rooney which ended up being United’s best opportunity to score all game. Showed some nice one-two passing moves with the skipper shortly afterwards. Delivered some promising crosses in the second half but faded badly after the hour and became anonymous as Fenerbahçe grew into the game more.
Fluffed United’s best clear cut opportunity in the first half when his first touch let him down. However, United’s skipper grew into the game as it wore on and played some nice through balls to Darmian and Martial who bombed forward on either flank. His consolation goal was a blast from the past; Rooney picked up the ball 35 yards out, turned towards goal, assessed his passing options and decided to let loose a thunderbolt into the side-netting.
Another really poor game from the big Swede. Over hit a simple through ball to Rashford which could have seen United open their account. Could, and probably should, have got sent off for raising his hands to Kjaer’s throat shortly after coming on. Was dispossessed too easily and too often, in a similar fashion to Rooney over the past two seasons. Gave away a needless and petty foul in the second half which was converted directly by Lens for 2-0.
Was tasked with adding some much needed creativity to United, like he did against Burnley at the weekend, but failed to have any impact on the game. Missed a half-chance after Rashford laid the ball in his path in the penalty area in the opening stages of the second half.
Added more impetus to United than Mata but not enough to create anything spectacular. Gave the ball away shortly after coming on which led to a dangerous Fenerbahçe counter attack. Some nice touches and flicks showed that the Armenian is still the same footballer which won the Bundesliga Player of the Year award last season.