Sunday 4 December 2016

What players have let Manchester United down this season?

Published 20/02/2016 | 12:06

It has been a season of struggle at for Louis van Gaal, but which players have performed and which have let their manager down?

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ABOVE AND BEYOND

Cameron Borthwick-Jackson: The teenage left-back has arguably been United’s find of the season. Pressed into action through injuries to others, the youth product has barely put a foot wrong and looks a real prospect for the future.

Jesse Lingard: Given his best run of games as a United player, the former youth-team player has taken his chance. Not a winger in the class of some of Old Trafford’s finest, he still offers much-needed pace and penetration to United’s side and has weighed in with a couple of goals.

Anthony Martial: Not a stellar season for a player who cost £36m. But that always looked a tad high for a forward who was only 19 when he signed from Monaco. Has probably played more than Louis van Gaal expected but looks a real threat at his best and will get better.

Chris Smalling: The England defender has emerged as the leader of United’s back line. A slow burner, the 26-year-old has come of age this season. However, even he has seen his form dip slightly as the troubles of United’s season have taken their toll.

David De Gea: The goalkeeper never lets his standards drop. Some would say he is only doing his job but without the performances of the Spaniard, United would be in an even worse position.

DOING JUST ENOUGH

Wayne Rooney: Perhaps a bit harsh but there have been long periods this season when the England and United captain has struggled for form. His effort is never in question and he is United’s top scorer but he has never been able to really inspire and now missed a spell through injury.

Daley Blind: A steady-Eddie for United at the back. The Dutch international rarely does anything wrong but has not been able to make United’s defence watertight. An indictment of the team that he is often United’s best passer.

Matteo Darmian: Another who is reliable but not much more. The Italian international has done a decent job in his first season in the Premier League and has offered the versatility of playing as a full-back on either flank but offers little going forward.

Marouane Fellaini: Seen by some as the epitome of United’s short-comings, the big Belgian is not easy on the eye and wouldn’t have got near many of United’s past midfield line-ups. But he invariably does a job for his manager in a variety of roles and is strangely missed when not there.

Juan Mata: Has just shown flashes of his ability to be a match winner. Not helped by playing in a wide right role, Van Gaal has not always trusted him to be the ‘number 10’ where he should be United’s orchestrator.

LETTING HIM DOWN

Memphis Depay: Has totally flattered to deceive since signing for £25m last summer. Van Gaal’s apparent lack of faith in the Dutch international, 22, speaks volumes and in a side bereft of attacking talent he should have taken the place by storm.

Ander Herrera: Difficult to pin-point what Herrera’s best role is. Has played in a variety of midfield positions and invariably does a tidy job. But that’s about it and for £29m United might have expected more.

Phil Jones: His injury record makes it a little unfair to be overly critical. But the bottom line is the England defender does not play enough and has therefore made little contribution under Van Gaal.

Marcos Rojo: Another defender who falls into the same category. Has had bad luck with injuries but has not convinced when fit that he is the answer at left-back or the centre of the defence.

Morgan Schneiderlin: The France international cost £25m from Southampton last summer and after seven years in English football looked to have all the tools needed. But the 26-year-old has found the step up too much and has under-whelmed in central midfield.

Bastian Schweinsteiger: A strange case. The German international arrived at Old Trafford as a serial winner but has looked like his best years are behind him. Has not grasped many games from central midfield, although in his injury absence United do look weaker.

Michael Carrick: Another slightly harsh one as the midfielder is in many ways the consummate professional. Injuries have again taken their toll but even when fit he has not been the commanding presence Van Gaal would have hoped with his ball retention not of its usual standard.

Telegraph.co.uk

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