EPL 2016/17: Middlesbrough 1-3 Manchester United, Player Ratings
David de Gea – 6.5/10
Usually Manchester United’s saving grace, David de Gea didn’t have much to do in this game. He made an important save from Ramirez when the game was scoreless, and was rarely called upon. He couldn’t do much to prevent Gestede’s goal, which was a minor blemish on a flawless game.
Chris Smalling – 5.5/10
The weak link in United’s defence, Smalling struggled quite a bit against Negredo. He was at fault for Boro’s goal, with a poor clearance – a culmination of an error-strewn performance, which included a clumsy attempt to head the ball back to De Gea that will be replayed for years to come alongside Phil Jones’ iconic headed clearance.
Phil Jones – 7/10
The English centre-back held things together for United, covering for the errors of his teammates multiple times. Jones prevented Negredo from getting on the scoresheet and equalizing for Boro with a great diving tackle in the box, a moment that could have changed the narrative of the game.
Eric Bailly – 5/10
Gaston Ramirez made mincemeat of Bailly in the first half, as the Ivorian struggled at right-back. This necessitated a tactical rethink by Jose Mourinho, who instructed Antonio Valencia to drop back and help Bailly out. The Ivorian was involved in a heated exchange during and after the game – not his best 90 minutes in a Red Devils jersey.
Antonio Valencia – 7.5/10
The Ecuadorian took full advantage of being let loose on the wings in the first half, and was arguably United’s best outlet, drawing a great save from Valdes at his near post. He defended superbly in the second half, and got his reward thanks to Valdes’ howler – a situation that would not have arisen had Valencia not pressed him down after running the entire length of the pitch.
Michael Carrick – 6/10
Arguably the most important player in Manchester United’s squad, Carrick held things together in midfield, despite being left all alone when Fellaini made his forays up the pitch. He focussed a bit more on the defensive side of things in this game, and made some intelligent interceptions in the second half as Boro upped the pressure.
Marouane Fellaini – 7/10
The Belgian had an error-strewn performance right until he scored the opener for United with an extremely well placed header. He improved massively after that moment, dominating things in midfield, although he was a bit erratic positionally.
Ashley Young – 7/10
Young was instrumental to United’s attacking play in the first half as he made merry down the left wing. He supplied a beautiful cross to the far post for Fellaini’s opener, and followed that up with constant support down the left. He was a bit quiet in the second half, but remained defensively solid.
Juan Mata – 6.5/10
The Spaniard dictated United’s attacks at the start of game, and ought to really have had an assist when he supplied Rashford with a perfect low cross into the box. Mata’s free role meant that he troubled Boro’s midfielders, often drawing them out of position and creating space for his teammates.
Marcus Rashford – 6/10
Another day, and Marcus Rashford could have easily walked away with a hat-trick and a rating of 9. As it was, the United youngster ensured that Boro remained in the game, spurning two gilt-edged chances within 20 minutes, although he did trouble the Boro defence with his incessant running.
Jesse Lingard – 7/10
Lingard took advantage of the space in midfield that was opened up by Mata, threading two through balls to Rashford in the first half, but made some poor decisions in promosing positions. All that was forgotten when Lingard hammered an absolute thunderbolt to double United’s lead and make the game relatively safe.
Marcos Rojo (69’) – 6/10
He was brought on to add much needed steel to the United defence and fulfilled his manager’s wishes. The Argentinian made a couple of important interceptions as United saw the game out.
Anthony Martial (80’) – N/A
The Frenchman did not spend enough time on the pitch to affect the game in a meaningful manner.
Matteo Darmian (90+4’) – N/A
The Italian was brought on to run the clock down, and did his job.