Man United vs. Galatasaray: Rating the Utd Players in Champions League Opener
Sir Alex Ferguson cannot possibly have been pleased with this performance, despite the result. United were on balance somewhat fortunate to leave with all the points, authors of their own shortcomings.
Very few players emerge from this match with an acceptable rating.
This is becoming a habit. Sir Alex built up the expectations, both in his press conference and his programme notes. Relating back to last season's failure to qualify and his errors in team selection he wrote:
"I will be playing stronger teams and we won't make that mistake again because European competition remains for me, the club and supporters the pinnacle of the game."
That's all very well, but once again United failed to put the opposition away. There were no excuses. Not even Wayne Rooney's absence could be blamed.
There were plenty of chances and yet another woeful penalty miss. Was it bad luck that none of the myriad crosses were converted, or inept finishing?
Once again too many top players in this, supposedly United's strongest available team (according to the Boss) were below par.
Once again, in his frustration, as he did against Wigan on Saturday, he sent his players out early after half-time, no doubt with a thick ear, to get the job done.
This time, they failed and Galatasaray could easily have wrenched a result, despite having only a couple shots on target.
There are no easy matches in Europe. Ferguson wants to win the group early so that he can blood young players in Europe. United will have to do better than this or even Cluj could be a problem.
Michael Regan/Getty Images
David de Gea (8/10) should share man of the match with Michael Carrick.
The Spanish keeper was back to his very best. He looked calm and composed throughout. In the second half he made a stunning double stop that saved the points for United.
On this form he should start on Sunday against Liverpool, especially as Andy Carroll has gone.
Michael Regan/Getty Images
Rafael (6/10) is showing growing signs of maturity. He is not the best defender in the world, but then neither is Marcello for Real Madrid.
He was given a torrid time by Amrabat until the latter's substitution after having been one of Galatasaray's best players.
That was no fault of Rafael. He resisted the temptation of old to throw himself to the ground and give rash fouls. The Turk was much stronger physically but the young Brazilian never shirked his task all night.
Rafael is an impressive header of the ball; he has good awareness of his fellows and played in several good passes.
He is a technically skilled attacking player, and we would like to see him go on more mazy runs into the box as he did when winning a penalty from the desperate Yimraz. After the mess that Nani made, maybe Rafael should have taken the conversion also.
Evra (4/10) was poor. It was hard to work out what on earth was going on down the left flank for much of the match. Nani was absent without leave over on the right much of the time and Patrice looked forlorn and friendless on the left.
The Boss must have flicked Nani's ear at half-time, because he stayed at home on the left more and at last Evra came into the game.
In truth, you could have formed the impression that Evra's confidence had been knocked sideways by the performance of Buttner at the weekend. He certainly wasn't his usual, ebullient expressive self. Maybe Sir Alex had told him to take his defensive responsibilities more seriously.
But he didn't do that very well either. His position must surely be under threat for Sunday.
Vidic (7/10) was solid but unspectacular. Most of Galatasaray's efforts came from range or in the air, and the captain didn't seem unduly troubled when heading the ball clear over and over.
His booking seemed harsh, but the referee had given him the benefit of the doubt right at the start of the match when there might have been a penalty.
He is still finding his form, but his commanding presence and the partnership with Ferdinand promises a string of clean sheets again this season.
Evans (6/10) might have been higher rated but for a dreadful mistake toward the end of the match. This is his Achilles' heel. When the obvious thing to do was hoof the ball upfield, Jonny once again tried to dribble out of his penalty area, lost the ball and United could have been in trouble.
When you think back to the City debacle, there are still question marks about his concentration for 90 minutes. He was highly competent in the air and OK on the ground. He needs a few matches to get back to his best.
Michael Regan/Getty Images
It was a surprise to many when Paul Scholes (5/10) started his second consecutive match.
It is also a concern when Sir Alex says he will play his strongest side and Scholes is in. What does that say about Tom Cleverley's prospects; or Anderson for that matter. Remember when they were the hottest show in town this time last year?
Paul did, and always does, some things very well. A few lazy but brilliant passes cheered the crowd. But uncharacteristically he gave the ball away in dangerous positions far too often and got caught in position.
Sadly, he doesn't look fit enough to play two games a week. If Sir Alex wants a pacy edge to United's game, then why does he keep picking Scholes.
He plays too deep in the main, is late to react sometimes, still lunges with tackles that make you hold your breath and, sadly, slows the game down.
He is still possibly the most technically gifted player in the squad. Maybe Sir Alex was thinking the generally slower pace of Europe would suit Scholes' game. But Galatasaray are a physical and pacy side themselves. Don't expect Paul to reappear in the return leg in the Turkish "cauldron of fire."
Michael Carrick (8/10) never gets the ratings he deserves. Apart from scoring an opportunistic goal (where was Van Persie?), Michael didn't put a foot wrong all night.
Some fans keep moaning that he slows the game down and passes sideways or backward too much.
So here's the thing. Carrick is in the engine room. More and more sides are playing five in midfield against United's four. The two central midfield players are critical. If he wasn't there they would be overrun.
He hardly ever gets caught in possession, plays incisive passes, intercepts as well as anyone and has as good Opta stats as most top midfield players in Europe.
Watch the comparison with wunderkid Joe Allen at the weekend. The Liverpool midfielder is economical and efficient with his five-yard passes, but he doesn't dictate a game the way Carrick can.
Antonio Valencia (7/10) would have scored a higher mark if any of his many crosses had been converted.
He was back to his sizzling best down the right wing. Is there a better right wing in Europe, despite his one-footedness?
So was it the quality of his crosses, or the lack of positioning or anticipation by his goal-scoring colleagues, that meant a barrage of centres went begging?
Ferguson won't be too sad about that because against lesser teams the likes of Van Persie, Kagawa and especially Chicharito will get a hatful of goals.
Valencia's tackling ability is always useful too, and he was one of the few players who could go home contented (except for the lack of end product).
Nani (5/10). Some would disagree with even that score. Nani, Nani, Nani...if Sir Alex ever gets a heart attack, the Portuguese winger is bound to be the cause.
Why on earth does he think he deserves a new contract of £130,000 a week?
He's got one helluva lot to prove to his manager to restore his faith.
Frustratingly, when he gets the ball, he is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous players in England. He can turn defenders inside out.
He's also a great hair remover. Sir Alex must have had apoplexy when Nani grabbed the ball for the penalty that Rafael fairly won.
Surely the Boss didn't sanction this choice of penalty taker? When he picked up the ball and walked to the spot, the entire crowd groaned in anticipation. To a man, woman and child we all knew he would miss it. The attempt was embarrassing.
This is getting serious now. Including preseason, Rooney, Van Persie, Hernandez and now Nani have now missed penalties. None have lost a game...yet.
But this one could have put the game to bed early and we would all still have our fingernails.
More to the point, if the Dutchman was having a night off, why doesn't Scholes take them? Surely you just put your foot through the ball rather than the "quickstep" or chip that we have seen this season.
Get it sorted, Sir Alex!
Michael Regan/Getty Images
Michael Carrick saved the blushes of his two striking colleagues tonight, showing them how to score goals out of the blue.
Kagawa (6/10) huffed and puffed and could have had a penalty. He should also have had two goals if he hadn't insisted on taking an extra touch.
He has the ability to carve holes in defence whether to make chances for himself or others. Somehow the tangle of legs of the Turkish defence kept denying him tonight.
Outside the box he was unspectacular with the exception of a few runs and passes. Something was missing tonight. Was it the back twinge or was it his striking partner?
This was Van Persie's (5/10) worst match so far. He was mastered far too easily and was no threat whatsoever.
Clearly the Galatasaray coach had done his work, and it is worrying if Ferguson's master plan was so easily worked out.
Kagawa and Van Persie may be No. 10 and No. 9 by the positions they play, rather than a twin spearhead, but surely they need to play closer to each other for their undoubted skills to produce an end product.
Chicharito's arrival was long overdue by the time he came onto the pitch. At least he knows how to create space around the six-yard box.
Michael Regan/Getty Images
This was one substitution that was always going to be made at some time, whatever the state of the match.
Sir Alex might be generally unsentimental, but has he let his feelings get ahead of himself by bringing in Darren Fletcher (5/10) so soon?
Yes he has had 90 minutes with the reserves, but he looked very rusty tonight, misplacing an important pass to Valencia almost immediately and being caught in possession.
He may have put back the two stones he lost, but frankly he still doesn't look that well.
Yes, we all rose from our feet to herald his return. At his best he is the missing link, but what must Tom Cleverley be thinking now that first Nick Powell on Saturday and Darren Fletcher have leapfrogged him?
Maybe we'll get the answer against Liverpool. Surely Sir Alex won't start Scholes again? We'd love to have a fully fit Fletcher alongside Carrick in the engine room, but he's not fit.
Liverpool are there for the taking and Cleverley must start.
Ironically the two players most likely to be disadvantaged this season were also the two most obvious substitutions that United needed, and they duly appeared.
Chicharito (6/10) looked back to his sharp best and was desperately unlucky not to score. He is now very definitely an impact substitute in the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer mould.
Danny Welbeck (6/10) looks to be the most in-form striker at the moment. Once again he made an immediate impact, and with his height and strength he will scare many a defence this season—in Europe and at home.
After Nani's woeful inconsistency and assuming Young is not fit, surely Sir Alex should start Welbeck on the left wing against Liverpool.
But then rumour has it that Wayne Rooney has made a remarkable recovery, so how about this team for Sunday?
De Gea, Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Buttner, Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Welbeck, Rooney, Van Persie.
An easy three points, surely? Unlike tonight, which should have been but for a couple of overpaid prima donnas.