Norwich City 1-0 Manchester United: Rating the United Players in Tough Loss
A collective groan no doubt rang out at Carrow Road in the away-fans section when it was announced that Sir Alex Ferguson had plumped for the midfield partnership of Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs.
Both players, as well as many others in United shirts, were poor in the 1-0 loss to Norwich, as an Anthony Pilkington header succeeded in handing the Red Devils their third loss of the Premier League season so far.
Here are the full player ratings for United on a 1-10 scale, in which there are, unsurprisingly, very few winners.
Anders Lindegaard: 5
Anders Lindegaard returned to the United lineup Saturday in place of David de Gea, but did little to distinguish himself over the course of the game.
Perhaps caught a few yards off his line for Pilkington's goal, the Dane also looked shaky on occasion from crosses swung into his box.
Based on what we've seen from both keepers this season, de Gea has to be considered the team's No. 1 going forward.
Brazilian full-back Rafael also had a bit of a stinker against Norwich.
He failed to close down Garrido for the cross that led to the Canaries' goal, and was consistently caught out of position by the lively Pilkington.
Going forward, he tried to involve himself as much as possible, but was never able to deliver a worthy cross into John Ruddy's penalty area.
Chris Smalling: 5
Possibly at fault for not picking up Pilkington during the move that led to the Norwich winger's goal, Chris Smalling will be left a little disappointed with his contribution to the game Saturday.
He was caught flat-footed several times in crossing situations, as attackers in yellow shirts were regularly able to get in front of him.
Jonny Evans has been sorely missed in his absence.
Rio Ferdinand: 6
Rio Ferdinand was probably United's most reliable defender on the pitch against Norwich.
When he was caught out, it was more the fault of the midfield for not tracking back quickly enough to help out, than his.
Some assured passes under pressure also added a bit of gloss to a nondescript performance for the veteran defender.
Patrice Evra: 5
Having shown signs of improvement in recent games, Patrice Evra took a step back in this respect with his display Saturday.
The French full-back looked lackadaisical in possession, as far too many attempted passes went astray.
He also missed a golden opportunity to give his side a lead not long before halftime, but failed to make enough contact on an open header from an Ashley Young corner.
Antonio Valencia: 4
No excuses for the Ecuadorian winger today—he was terrible on the whole for much of the game.
His decision-making was off—too often he failed to pick out the overlapping runs of Rafael, instead looking for the unnecessary pass through the middle. His crosses were pretty dreadful too, as Javier Hernandez and Robin van Persie went underfed.
Rightly hauled off near the hour mark for Paul Scholes, Valencia's form of late has taken a very worrying turn for the worse.
Michael Carrick: 5
Not good enough again for the sideways-passing Michael Carrick.
Supporters of the midfielder claim that his role is vital to United's chances, but when he neither contributes going forward, nor helps out on the counter, what is the point of his inclusion in the team?
He does little wrong, but then, what does he really do right?
Ryan Giggs: 4
It truly is sad to see a United hero and real legend of the game fade out his career so underwhelmingly, but perhaps it is time for Ryan Giggs to hang up his boots.
Two years ago, he had the legs to compete and thrive in central midfield, but now his inclusion in the team only leads to constant surrendering of possession and little creativity in attack.
With the likes of the far more positive Anderson and Tom Cleverley sitting under-utilised on the bench, how on earth can Sir Alex justify Giggs' inclusion in the team?
Ashley Young: 7
A sad admission, but Ashley Young was undoubtedly United's best player Saturday.
His crossing was far superior to Valencia's, and when he switched wings late in the game, he looked far more dangerous running at defenders than the Ecuadorian had done.
He would have scored from a corner were it not for a fine Ruddy save, and he did his best to set up a couple of chances for Danny Welbeck late on with some deft crosses.
Robin Van Persie: 5
Plenty of praise has been hurled in Robin van Persie's direction this season, all of which has been justified.
But criticism must be given where it's due, and against Norwich, the Dutchman was poor to say the least.
Asked to play in a deeper role in the absence of Shinji Kagawa and Wayne Rooney, he seemed confused at times as to what his role in the team was, and when he was given opportunities to score, his touch let him down.
Javier Hernandez: 6
Nothing doing for Javier Hernandez Saturday, as his effort and passion went unrewarded.
The Mexican striker was never given the type of service he needs to thrive on, and was never able to create a decent shooting chance for himself.
Unless he wants to shed the tag of super sub, Hernandez needs to start scoring from the starting lineup as well as from the bench, but nevertheless his early removal from the game was perhaps premature.
Paul Scholes: 6
Looked far more dangerous and assured than Giggs, but was still unable to create anything tangible going forward.
Was at least positive and forward-thinking with the ball at his feet.
Danny Welbeck: 5
Touch let him down in the penalty area, and perhaps should have done better with a couple of good heading opportunities.
Wasn't given much time to contribute, but still had chances to score and impress his manager.
What did you think of United's loss against Norwich City? Who was the most to blame for the defeat?