Liverpool 2-0 Manchester United: Player Ratings

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: Daley Blind of Manchester United applauds the crowd after the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 first leg match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on March 10, 2016 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: Daley Blind of Manchester United applauds the crowd after the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 first leg match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on March 10, 2016 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images) /

In a performance that was as poor as anything Manchester United have produced since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, only one player deserved praise.

Manchester United lost 2-0 to Liverpool at Anfield on Thursday night – and only David De Gea came away from the game with any credit whatsoever.

The home side won comfortably and could have easily scored four or five on the night. Were it not for United’s Spanish goalkeeper, the tie would have been over even before next week’s return leg at Old Trafford.

As it is, the remaining 10 players – and Louis van Gaal – will need to improve dramatically if United are to have any chance of progressing to the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

The first-leg result was so damaging, and the player ratings make for grim reading.

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David De Gea: 9

The Spaniard was United’s best player. That’s been said far too many times in the last three seasons. On Thursday, he made a tremendous block from Sturridge, clawed Philippe Coutinho’s goal-bound effort away from danger, tipped the Brazilian’s thumping long-range shot over the crossbar and punched Nathaniel Clyne’s powerful drive clear. De Gea, as has so often been the case, played brilliantly and deserved so much better from his team-mates.

Related Story: Liverpool 2-0 United: Red Devils Outplayed

Guillermo Varela: 6

The Uruguayan, rightfully preferred to Matteo Darmian, was assigned to man-mark Coutinho. He did well in that regard and even got forward to spin Alberto Moreno with a delightful turn, which won a free-kick in a dangerous area. In the second half, he moved to right-wing-back in a 3-5-2 system but never really got the opportunity to attack. Varela has played well since the turn of the year and was one of the better performers on the night at Anfield.

Chris Smalling: 5

United’s best and most experienced defender failed to hit the heights of his performance away at Anfield last season. He wasn’t awful, but he dallied in possession too often and wasn’t as commanding as he can be. One untimely slip nearly let Sturridge in to score, but De Gea – unsurprisingly – bailed him out.

Daley Blind: 5

The Dutchman has looked so, so tired in the last three games and needs to be rested at the weekend. Against Liverpool, Blind’s long-distance passing failed to inspire, while the movement of Liverpool’s attacking quartet exposed his lack of pace and agility. He has had a fine season, it must be said, but Blind has underwhelmed in the last fortnight.

Marcos Rojo: 4

The Argentine was poor at left-back. His timing of tackles seemed, as usual, way off. His passing was inaccurate. His defending was clumsy. In short, the return of Luke Shaw – or even Cameron Borthwick-Jackson – can’t come soon enough.

Morgan Schneiderlin: 5

The Frenchman faced the unenviable task of dealing with Liverpool’s interchangeable attack. There was no way, on his own, that he could stop them all. That said, his passing failed to get United going. His first season at United has been somewhat hit and miss – with more hits than misses – but his display at Anfield left a lot to be desired.

Marouane Fellaini: 4

The Belgian doesn’t even divide United’s fanbase anymore. The truth is that the vast majority of them wouldn’t bat an eyelid if he was sold this summer. Against Liverpool, he was haphazard, committing so many niggling fouls. In the closing stages, he quite clearly elbowed Emre Can in the face and will be lucky not to pick up a suspension as a result.

Marcus Rashford: 5 

The teenager was thrown in at the deep end in this game. He was also tasked with playing a strange defensive role, as if to quell the overlapping threat of Moreno. At half-time, with things not going well at all, he was the player substituted.

Juan Mata: 4

In a fast-paced match, the Spaniard looked a little lost. It was as if he couldn’t keep up. Whenever he got the ball, swarmed by high-pressing Liverpool players, he was unable to provide a threat. One moment in the game summed up his performance: Mamadou Sakho, under pressure, swatted him to the ground and went about his business casually. It came as no surprise when Mata was substituted.

Memphis Depay: 4

The Dutchman has earned praise in the last few weeks for his improved performances. Against Liverpool, though, he was desperately poor. A good cross into the box for Rashford in the opening minute was contrasted by an awful free-kick that was sliced well wide. One feature of Memphis’ first season has been wayward shots from distance, which is something he needs to cut out of his game. In the second half, playing loosely as a striker, he did create a chance for Anthony Martial with a clever through ball, but it came to nothing.

Anthony Martial: 4

The Frenchman was ineffective in the game. Playing as the lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 in the first half left him completely isolated in attack. In the second half, playing as a right-sided striker in a 3-5-2, he had a little more joy but still failed to have an impact. It was one of his least impressive performances in a United shirt.


Michael Carrick: 4

The 34-year-old did, at the very least, enable United to get a foothold in the game when he was introduced at half-time. However, playing as a centre-back did him no favours, and his shocking clearance led to Liverpool’s second goal, which may well have ended the tie.

Bastian Schweinsteiger: 6

The German, who has played just once in 2016 due to injury, showed some leadership when he came on and tried to cajole his team-mates. Unfortunately, by that time it was too late. If United are to end the season even remotely well, Schweinsteiger will be key.

Ander Herrera: 6

There were rumours that the Spaniard picked up an injury in the buildup to the game. Like Schweinsteiger, when he came on it was too late. Herrera, though, should start in next week’s return leg.

Next: United's 5 worst defeats under Van Gaal

In truth, some of the above ratings are a little generous. United’s defeat to Liverpool was embarrassing. For Van Gaal, his two tactical setups failed, his substitutions came too late and, well over 18 months into his tenure, his much-discussed philosophy still isn’t evident.