Manchester United player ratings: Januzaj and Evra the stars of the show

Manchester United got back to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Swansea City on Saturday.

Vincent Ralph rates the display player-by-player:

David de Gea 7

The Spaniard had little to do but did that well. He now commands his area in a way that appeared impossible when he first arrived from Spain. He was composed throughout and had his defenders to thank for a relatively quiet afternoon.

Rafael 7

There may still be a mistake floating perilously close to the surface of the Brazilian, but against Swansea City he was his dynamic best. He got forward time and again and laid a chance on a plate for Danny Welbeck that the striker should have buried. While most of the best work came down United’s left, Rafeal played his part.

Nemanja Vidic 7

Rumours abound that Vidic will be on his way at the end of the season, but his performance on Saturday suggested he still has plenty to offer. Some brave blocks prevented Swansea from having too many shots on target and he handled the threat of Wilfried Bony well.

Chris Smalling 7

As with Vidic, Smalling was comfortable at the back. While the Swans had plenty of the ball in the first half there was little threat on the United goal. Smalling’s biggest contribution of note was somehow missing an open goal from just yards out, hitting Shinji Kagawa’s delightful cross over the bar when it was harder to miss than to score.

Patrice Evra 9

The French full-back was outstanding in the second half, bombing forward at every opportunity and linking up superbly with Adnan Januzaj. His shot led to Danny Welbeck’s goal and Evra also provided a string of dangerous crosses. Were it not for Januzaj’s fantastic performance, Evra would have been man-of-the-match.

Antonio Valencia 7

Valencia produced a calm finish for the opening goal and it was that strike that allowed United to play with far more freedom from then on. He sent in some dangerous crosses and hugged the touchline with the skill he always does. But he was shown up somewhat by the goings-on on the opposite flank. If he ups his game a little more, he can still play a vital role in David Moyes’ United.

Darren Fletcher 8

How grateful Moyes must be to have Fletcher back in his team. The Scotland international was great against Swansea, dictating the play in the middle, winning the ball back and outshining Michael Carrick. After a cagey first half where both midfielders sat deep, Fletcher shone in the second 45 minutes.

Michael Carrick 7

Carrick did what he always does, and he did it well. He and Fletcher combined well in the middle after a lacklustre first half. If they can replicate the second-half performance on a regular basis, Moyes will be a little less desperate for a new midfielder (although the need is still very much there).

Adnan Januzaj 9

A goal for the precocious Belgian and I would have awarded him a 10. But that really was the only thing missing from a breath-taking performance that saw him inspire United almost single-handedly…until they began to take his lead and play with more confidence. He hit the bar with a free-kick in the first half, before digging out a cross to ultimately set up the first goal. It was his great play tracking back that also led to the second strike for Welbeck.

Shinji Kagawa 7

The Japanese midfielder almost played his way to an 8. But not quite, His header led to the opening goal but he should have played in Welbeck when he opted to shoot later on. From there he grew into the game and his whipped cross should have seen Smalling end the game as a contest. But that same accusation could be levelled at him when he was clear through late on. After doing all the hard work he should have just put his foot through it, but instead attempted a delicate finish that was cleared off the line.

Danny Welbeck 7

Welbeck should have scored with United’s best move of the first half. But he made up for it with a deft flick to divert Evra’s shot in to make it 2-0. That made it six goals in his last six league matches. He is still not a Wayne Rooney or a Robin van Persie, but he will do until they return.


Alex Buttner (replaced Patrice Evra) 6

The Dutchman was composed in defence and cleared the ball well on occasions when challenged. He had one chance to break forward into the box but aside from that was fairly subdued during his late cameo.

Javier Hernandez (replaced Danny Welbeck) 5

Hernandez was introduced late and did little during that spell. He looks anything but the predatory finisher he was when he arrived, but only needs time on the pitch to prove his worth.

image: © Gordon Flood

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