After another painful afternoon in the Premier League at Turf Moor, United struggled to despatch Burnley drawing 0-0.
Manchester United with now 2 points out of a possible 9 and the 7 point gap behind Chelsea and Swansea City and is looking like a chasm, that demands that the points difference does not increase.
David de Gea; Made a few great saves and one that was key to save further embarrassment to Jonny Evan’s. Was rooted to the spot with the top class free-kick from David Jones that rattled the bar. Distribution was poor putting Blackett and Evans under pressure by rolling the ball out to them (in an attempt to retain possession) when it would likely be an advantage to launch the ball high up field to turn defence quickly into attack. 7.
Jonny Evans; Following on from the Irishman’s mare against MK Don’s Evans looks a bundle of nerves which is the reverse of last season and the most likely candidate to be the key central defender. He never looked commanding under cooking a pass back to De Gea. A few minutes previously rashly challenging to earn Burnley their free kick which hit the bar. It’s strange watching Evans look so ill at ease, although not difficult to fathom out why, with the experience and knowhow of Vidic and Ferdinand at his side gone. Evans however was better on the right of the 3 man backline, than the centre as he was severely exposed at Mk Dons. 4
Phil Jones; A bright light, cool calm and collected as the centre figure in the three back line. Burnley however never really pressurised our backs with intensity. Those days are on the horizon as the back 3 adapt to the new system the manager is asking them to adopt. 6
Tyler Blackett, We all want the United youngster to do well, and he does not look out of place in the left back role. Again lacking composure and naturally at his age, confidence to be on the ball and retain the football with the key component – finding a fellow team mate. Not easily giving the ball away. An encouraging prospect. 5
Antonio Valencia; When did we last witness Valencia actually cross the ball and beat the man defending his cross. There are few examples, yes recently his driven cross across the goal mouth for Juan Mata to side step into the net. But as well as getting back and forward to support Evans he should be providing killer crosses into the danger areas for our strikers to score goals. Antonio looks also bereft of confidence and his previous ability to cross vanished. 4
Angel Di Maria; Excellent first half, total excitement watching our No7. He is going to be superb at Manchester United given time and his determination to succeed in a new league. Di Maria was finding the chinks in the Burnley defence threading the passes through, a mighty encouraging start, and will improve as match sharpness and level of fitness under Van Gaal improves. 6
Juan Mata; Almost anonymous which is odd for all undoubted ability, the Spaniard flicked in and out of the game but needs to stamp his authority on the match as the principle orchestrator from midfield. 5
Darren Fletcher; The protection of the back 3, the Scotsman was slow, languid in passing the ball and being caught in possession. It’s quite sad to see this as we all know what Darren has been through with personal health issues, but maybe the effects of this turmoil on his body has had an effect on his footballing ability. We can only hope Fletch turns the corner and gets back to the player we have seen in past, harassing hurrying down the opposition into making errors. Not the other way round as at present. 5
Ashley Young; Yet another insipid display with zero cutting edge and nothing for the spearhead attack to work with. Could have had at least one penalty, possible two, the push in the box was blatant and merited the spot kick, the drive at the Burnley defender with his arms in an unnatural position debateable. Referee Foy saw nothing to review, one is left to wonder with Ashley Young and penalties previous diving history – when you actually deserve the penalty the embarrassing theatrics on his CV go against him and more importantly Manchester United. 4
Wayne Rooney; The United captain looked anything but today he looked off the pace and miles away from Burnley.
It’s fair to say with the honours Wayne Rooney is being bestowed upon him, United captain, England captain he needs to deliver big time on a regular basis with as many believe he is World Class performances. 4
Robin van Persie: Another United player who so much is expected off but looks totally different to the van Persie we watched play for the Netherlands recently in the World Cup. Likely not match sharp and fully fit, his touch was not as controlled as we know he can cosset the ball and bring it under control. This was not there today for the Dutchman, although he was improved in the second 45. Although in the first half brought a good save out of the Burnley keeper after controlling Di Maria’s pass inside the 18 yard box. Appeared as Manchester United’s most likely avenue of a goal. 5
Manchester United substitutes:
Anderson; Came on for the injured Di Maria in the 70th minute, made little or no impact. 4
Danny Welbeck; The United No 19 has a lot to prove to Van Gaal to extend his lifelong association with Manchester United. Replacing Van Persie in the 73rd minute Danny providing some needed pace on the flanks and a willing runner. Welbeck while his goal conversation rate needs improved drastically to be considered a top-top striker, he offers what Manchester United are craving speed and thrusting counter attack play the 23 year old displayed some urgency. 5
Adnan Januzaj; Hardly worth the effort off putting the young Belgian on the field, replacing Juan Mata (although injured) with 3 minutes to go. Januzaj merits after last seasons star performances in numerous matches the opportunity to blossom and test his credentials. Possibly Van Gaal is avoiding using Januzaj while the whole team is lacking in confidence and a collective work ethic, so as not to crush the youngsters confidence also. 5
Javier Hernandez, Michael Keane, Reece James, Ben Amos; not used.
Louis Van Gaal had this to say after the match, in which Burnley hit the bar early on through ex United player David Jones and the Clarets having the upper hand in the first 45, “It’s a disappointing result” the Boss said, “I think in the first half we did the same as Burnley did, fighting, and I think we have to play the ball against teams like Burnley. “In the second half we did much better and created many more chances, but then you have to score out of the chances and we didn’t do that.”
The manager as was expected handed his first start to our magnificent new signing Angel Di Maria, however the No7 had to leave the field in the 70th minute, Van Gaal advising us that “It was a precaution, it was a kick on his calf. The Boss explaining his thoughts on the United wingers first game in the League “It was not the world class player that we have seen, but you cannot expect that because he has to adapt to the English culture and the English way of playing and also to his fellow players. “His fellow players also have to adapt to his way of playing, and that needs time.”
Louis van Gaal who managed the Netherlands in Brazil in the summer at the World Cup to finish 3rd, and has detailed knowledge of Ajax’s – Holland, Daley Blind shared with us United supporters this on his likely transfer to the club “He’ll come to Manchester to have a medical, and then we might have a new player.” The manager in his now familiar cryptic humour “I think it’s very smart of the manager [to have three left-sided defenders]”
It would probably be smarter of the manager to train his thoughts on getting some Effing points on the board, or the League challenge is going to be over before we face Everton, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal in quick succession in October and November. Last season we recorded 5 points from 24 available from those 4 clubs!
Manchester United have now played 4 matches in this seasons campaign without a victory, we now enter one of these international break lulls, and our next first team contest is against newly promoted Queens Park Rangers at Old Trafford on the 14th of September. It’s a 14 day break for the United manager to start showing why he was selected as the boss, and bring his Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Ajax knowledge to the Red Devils and get focused on the Premier League challenge.
How would rate the Manchester United players today and importantly Louis van Gaal?