Power Ranking Every Player for Manchester United in 2017/18 Season so Far

Paul AnsorgeFeatured ColumnistOctober 7, 2017

Power Ranking Every Player for Manchester United in 2017/18 Season so Far

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    United's team-spirit on display.
    United's team-spirit on display.Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    In the last few years, it has been tough to put together power rankings for Manchester United players because there have not been enough consistent performers to justify high positions.

    It is lovely to have the opposite problem. Essentially, any of the top 15 here would have had a decent shot at the top five in previous rankings based on their current level of performance. The problem, for once, has been deciding which excellent performances to reward with the highest positions, rather than finding enough good ones.

    These rankings are based on players' performances during United's seven league games and two UEFA Champions League matches so farso the UEFA Super Cup and Carabao Cup games are excluded.

    It will be fascinating to watch how these positions shift and change as the season progresses.  

19. Victor Lindelof

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    Lindelof in Champions League action.
    Lindelof in Champions League action.Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press

    A player who will be hoping the positions shift and change as the season progresses is Victor Lindelof. Largely excluded from action so far, Jose Mourinho has clearly decided Lindelof needs an extended bedding-in period. 

    Mourinho's decision makes sense based on some of the Swede's shaky performances so far. However, it still seems reasonable to assume much better likely lies ahead for Lindelof's United career, in spite of its slow start.

18. Matteo Darmian

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    Darmian in action against CSKA Moscow.
    Darmian in action against CSKA Moscow.Dan Mullan/Getty Images

    One league start and one Champions League substitute appearance so far in this campaign have Matteo Darmian clearly demarcated as a back-up option. 

    He has been generally fine when he has appeared, but Ashley Young is getting games ahead of him at the moment, and it would not be a surprise to see the Italian move on in January or next summer.

17. Chris Smalling

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    Smalling applauds travelling supporters in Moscow.
    Smalling applauds travelling supporters in Moscow.KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/Getty Images

    With Phil Jones and Eric Bailly starting the season as Mourinho's go-to centre-back pairing, Premier League football has been hard to come by for Chris Smalling. He has made just one start in the league. He would appear to be behind Jones in the pecking order for now, and based on his form at the back-end of last season in particular, that is no surprise. 

    He remains an important part of the squad, though when Marcos Rojo returns, it will be intriguing to see whether Smalling drops another rung down the ladder. In spite of one good season of form under Louis van Gaal, Smalling has yet to really kick on and prove himself at the top level.

16. Ander Herrera

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    Herrera in Premier League action against Crystal Palace.
    Herrera in Premier League action against Crystal Palace.Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Last season's Player of the Year has found his place in the starting XI taken by Nemanja Matic, but more worryingly, he has not even been the go-to replacement in Paul Pogba's recent absence. 

    His last couple of performances have been more encouraging, but he was notably poor during his first Premier League start of the season against Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium.

    There have been a few more hopeful signs in his more recent run-out, though, which fans will be happy about given his enormous popularity with United's support. There is clearly much better to come from Ander Herrera. 

15. Jesse Lingard

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    Lingard takes a tumble against Palace.
    Lingard takes a tumble against Palace.Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Jesse Lingard's job this season has been to help United change things up. Mourinho has turned to the academy graduate—now an important part of the first-team squad—to freshen up tired legs or add defensive discipline. This was particularly effective against Crystal Palace on Saturday, when Henrikh Mkhitaryan's sloppy performance was causing attack after attack to break down.

    Lingard added dynamism and penetration to that performance, something he has done well in short bursts. He is not everyone's idea of "United standard," but he is certainly a useful and valued part of Mourinho's squad.

14. Daley Blind

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    Blind enjoys a chuckle in training.
    Blind enjoys a chuckle in training.PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

    Daley Blind seems to have lost his place to Young, for now. That is perhaps a little harsh on the Dutchman, who has generally performed reasonably well at left-back.

    However, United have been improved by Young's speed, and for now, Blind will have to content himself with an "OK" grade.

13. Ashley Young

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    Young and Fellaini celebrate another successful link-up.
    Young and Fellaini celebrate another successful link-up.PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

    Young might be even higher up these charts had his good performances been executed over a longer period. As it is, 13th is creditable for a player who has played in just five of United's nine games so far—three in the league and two in the Champions League.

    His decent placement has been well earned thanks to some fine run-outs in those games. He has an assist in both competitions and has added a new, potent dimension to United's left-flank, which has benefited both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

12. Antonio Valencia

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    Antonio Valencia is congratulated after his wonder-goal against Everton.
    Antonio Valencia is congratulated after his wonder-goal against Everton.OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

    United's de facto captain this season given Michael Carrick has only played in the Carabao Cup, Antonio Valencia has recently hit better form after a slow start. He was particularly poor against Stoke City and Leicester City, both games in which his delivery from the decent positions in which he found himself was sorely lacking.

    His stunning goal against Everton seems to have provided him with a much-needed confidence boost, and he looks to be approaching something like his best again. A decent season so far from Valencia.

11. Juan Mata

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    Mata celebrates his first goal of the season against Palace.
    Mata celebrates his first goal of the season against Palace.Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Juan Mata got off the mark for the season against Palace. He is still yet to register an assist. That is not to say his performances have been bad—they certainly have not. He is one of those who belongs firmly in the category of players hitting a performance level that would have been rewarded more highly in previous seasons.

    He sits as low as 11th in spite of the fact he has generally done well, knitting play together and allowing other attacking players to flourish. It is just that he has not often been directly involved in the fireworks. It seems likely he will hit a production purple patch at some point during the season, but for now, this placement seems about fair.

10. Eric Bailly

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    Mourinho congratulates Bailly on another job well done.
    Mourinho congratulates Bailly on another job well done.KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/Getty Images

    Competition for places in the top 10 is pretty fierce, as we have seen, but Eric Bailly is worthy of a spot.

    He has not been mistake free, but for the most part he has been consistent, energetic, a fine reader of the game and an asset to Mourinho's United. The decision to bring him to Manchester in summer 2016 has been one of the Portuguese manager's finest while in charge at the club.

9. Marouane Fellaini

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    Fellaini has been in fine form this season.
    Fellaini has been in fine form this season.Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Marouane Fellaini is in excellent form, significantly outstripping expectations, scoring important goals and making a valuable contribution in Pogba's absence. Even before Pogba's injury, Fellaini was involved as Mourinho's first-choice midfield substitute option.

    Whether the Belgian can sustain this run of form remains to be seen—that has not been what has happened historically—but for now he is well within the top 10 and has been playing well enough to be contention for a higher placement if he keeps this up over a longer stretch.

8. Phil Jones

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    Phil Jones makes another important intervention.
    Phil Jones makes another important intervention.Stu Forster/Getty Images

    Jones has made, essentially, two mistakes all season. They were both against Stoke, and both cost United a goal. Were it not for those mistakes, Jones would have been nailed on for a top-five spot and could have been a contender for United's best player so far this season.

    The England international has been absolutely stellar in Mourinho's defence, proving once again that with an extended run in the side, he has what it takes to be a defender at an elite level.

    He is excellent at snuffing out danger when counter attacks are building; cutting off passes into the channels is a particular specialty. And he has an almost ridiculous level of personal bravery, meaning he is always prepared to put himself in harm's way for the cause.

    If he can stay fit for most of the rest of the season—a huge "if" given his injury record—he is on course for the season of his life.

7. Paul Pogba

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    Barring injury, Pogba would likely be higher up the rankings.
    Barring injury, Pogba would likely be higher up the rankings.Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    If Pogba had not got injured after four league games and 20 minutes of Champions League football, there is every chance he would be top of this list. Barring perhaps the Stoke game, he had played well just about every time he had taken the field. Freed up by Matic's presence, he is already on two goals and two assists for the season.

    And his all-round play has been excellent. There is a school of thought that he should be played as far up the field as possible, but in truth, he is the kind of complete midfielder who benefits from picking the ball up in deep-lying positions.

    United's best performances of the season have come with him and Matic in a two—games in which Pogba has definitely played in midfield rather than attacking midfield, albeit with an attacking mindset.

    The sooner he is back to full fitness, the happier United fans will be.

6. Henrikh Mkhitaryan

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    Mkhitaryan scores in Russia.
    Mkhitaryan scores in Russia.Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press

    This might seem like a slightly lowly position for a player with five league assists and a goal each in the league and the Champions League already this season, but in truth, Mkhitaryan's performances have been a little mixed.

    The 59 per cent pass completion ratio with which he ended the game against Palace is one of those statistics that really does accurately reflect the quality of a performance. 

    It cannot be denied that his net contribution has been enormously positive, hence a top-six spot in the list. A touch more consistency and he could be pushing for an even higher ranking come the end of the season.

5. Marcus Rashford

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    Rashford celebrates his Champions League debut with a goal against FC Basel.
    Rashford celebrates his Champions League debut with a goal against FC Basel.Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Two goals and three assists in the league and a goal in the Champions League is a fine return for United's homegrown boy wonder. His first assist against Palace was a particular highlight given the confidence and ability he displayed in beating his man in the build up to it. That was an indicator of the kind of form he is in.

    He is one notch below his left-wing job-share partner just on the basis of Anthony Martial's superior return, but the kid from Wythenshawe has a lot to be proud of.

4. Anthony Martial

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    Two United forwards share a hug.
    Two United forwards share a hug.Dave Thompson/Associated Press

    If Martial had been a regular starter, imagine where he would be. However, in spite of being 14th for minutes played in the league among United's squad, he is joint second for goals scored and joint third for assists. He has been more regular in the Champions League, where he has a goal and two assists.

    And all of this has been done with the kind of panache and elan that has made him an absolute joy to watch almost every time he has played. Mourinho has to find a way to get him into the team more regularly, but even before he has, Martial has made ample demonstration of his worth.

3. David De Gea

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    De Gea in the rain.
    De Gea in the rain.Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

    David De Gea is playing at as high a level as he ever has in a United shirt. That is really saying something, too, given how good he has been in the past. He is clearly part of the "best goalkeeper in the world" conversation and increasingly should be considered as one of United's best ever. 

    Whether he has surpassed Peter Schmeichel or Edwin van der Sar is unclear, but what is clear is that he is an incredible 'keeper in incredible form. With United playing so well as a collective, it must be dispiriting for opponents to realise that even if they do get past all the rest, De Gea will probably just save their attempt anyway.

2. Nemanja Matic

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    Matic makes a tackle in Moscow.
    Matic makes a tackle in Moscow.YURI KADOBNOV/Getty Images

    Matic was in serious contention for the No. 1 spot here, kept off it only by the sheer volume of goals Romelu Lukaku has scored.

    But United's summer signing from Chelsea has been central to so many of the good things that have happened this season. His own performances have been great. His destructive qualities have come as no surprise, but what has been something of a revelation is just how useful he is on the ball. His passing and movement are progressive, incisive and intelligent.

    And above and beyond his personal performances, there has been his dramatic impact on the team as a whole. He was expected to free up Pogba, giving him a more expansive role, which he has certainly done, but in truth he has freed up the whole of the attack, with Mourinho seemingly more confident to allow his attacking players freedom of expression.

    A big part of why United have scored so many goals is that they have been allowed a stage on which to perform by Matic's presence. He's superb signing who has had a huge impact.

1. Romelu Lukaku

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    "What number are you in the power rankings, Romelu?"
    "What number are you in the power rankings, Romelu?"DIMITAR DILKOFF/Getty Images

    And talking of superb signings who have had a huge impact, Lukaku has played in seven league games and two Champions League games for United, in which time he has only failed to score once. He has a total of 10 goals in those nine games and has been everything United fans could have hoped for and more.

    His link-up play has been better than expected, and his off-the-ball movement superb. As well as the hatful of goals he has scored himself, he is also a big part of the reason the supporting cast have so many, too. He occupies defenders physically and mentally, allowing space for his team-mates to run into.

    It has been a dream start to his United career, for player and fans alike. With new signings occupying the top two spots here, it is no wonder United are looking so much better than they were this time last season.

          

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