Usually when I sit down to write player-ratings, I intend to praise at least one or two men, even in defeat. But that is not the case today – at least not when it comes to Manchester United’s starting XI.
It is fair to say things did not go according to plan against Olympiakos, and while I am tempted to simply say everyone got a three and be done with it, here goes:
David de Gea 6
The Spaniard had no chance with the opening goal, which was wickedly but deftly deflected out of his reach. He could also do little about the second, expertly curled into the far corner leaving him clasping at air.
Chris Smalling 3
Clearly the make-shift right-back forgot a stud or two, so often was he on the ground. He looked uncomfortable out wide and failed to impress when going forward. As much as David Moyes needs a new midfielder or three, he should also consider a new right-back with neither Smalling nor Rafael doing enough to be a first and regular choice.
Rio Ferdinand 3
Two loose moments early on put the defence in trouble and he never fully recovered from that. He looked edgy throughout and gave the ball away too often. Gone was the composed defender seen in recent matches against Crystal Palace and Arsenal.
Nemanja Vidic 5
The Serb executed a phenomenal challenge when Dominguez ran through almost the entire United side – a goal-saving tackle no doubt. And while United would go on to concede two, Vidic did his best at the back.
Patrice Evra 4
Got forward well early on and again in the final flurry of activity that could easily have led to a vital away-goal. He did what he always does, and linked up well at times with Ashley Young. But he could not create a goal or two as he did at Selhurst Park.
Antonio Valencia 4
The right winger used to put the ball on a plate for Wayne Rooney, but the accuracy of his crosses have dipped considerably in recent times and that again proved to be the case against the Greek champions. He has so much ability but failed to use his speed to get past his man.
Michael Carrick 5
When Carrick gives the ball away, you know United are in trouble. Such was the observation of a commentator during the game. He could not dictate the play and was overrun at times. He needs a world-class midfielder alongside him…the sooner the better.
Tom Cleverley 3
The England international was not at it. He could not create any forward momentum and was outmanoeuvred time and again. He has had good games for United, but this was not one of them.
Ashley Young 4
Young played a lovely attempted reverse pass to Robin van Persie that was slightly over-hit and later provided a dangerous whipped cross that could have found the Dutchman. Aside from that he did little.
Wayne Rooney 5
After his star-showing against Crystal Palace it was a somewhat anonymous performance from Rooney. These are the type of matches he usually takes by the scruff of the neck but he was barely seen against Olympiakos and just could not play his way into the match.
Robin van Persie 5
It could all have been so different if the Dutchman had converted a relatively easy chance when through on goal. Instead he blazed over the bar and that away-goal failed to materialise. Early on he looked energetic and almost found the net from a tight angle. But with little midfield supply he was almost as anonymous as his strike-partner.
Danny Welbeck (replaced Valencia) 6
Welbeck added some much-needed spark to United’s play when he came on and it is only shame he did not arrive sooner. He may not be everyone’s cup of tea but he works tirelessly for the side and did so again here.
Shinji Kagawa (replaced Cleverley) 6
It is a strange and befuddling world when Shinji Kagawa spends most of his time on the substitutes’ bench, but that was the case again in Greece. However, when he came on United started to play, and he was at the heart of their 10 minute spell at the end of the game when they could have grabbed a goal…but didn’t.
image: © El Ronzo