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Monday, November 29, 2021

How Manchester United’s out-of-form players performed under Michael Carrick

Manchester United are through to the Champions League round of 16 after second-half goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho, his first for the club since his move in the summer, sealed victory over Villarreal.

And Mike McGrath was on hand to analyse how five players, who have been under fire this season, performed in Michael Carrick’s first game as interim manager.

Donny van de Beek

This fixture was a reminder of how badly the Holland midfielder had fallen under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. In last year’s Europa League final, with the destination of the trophy in the balance, Solskjaer did not trust Van De Beek, sending on Fred and Daniel James in extra-time instead.  

Michael Carrick handed him his first start, two months after he was selected in an EFL Cup game. He was expected to help support Cristiano Ronaldo with attacks from a No10 position but it was difficult to impose himself on the game with United surrendering possession. 

Much of his work was done in defensive areas as United risked getting overrun in midfield. He deserves credit for assessing that problem rather than abandoning defensive duties to attack. But he was clearly short of match-fitness, his runs half a second behind his team-mates and a mistimed tackle on Pervis Estupiñán, earning a yellow, showing that he needs a run of games to get his rhythm. Taken off after 65 minutes. 

Aaron Wan-Bissaka 

Under Solskjaer he received criticism for not getting forward enough or providing quality crosses for attackers to get on the end of. Carrick’s arrival hardly turned him into Cafu overnight, although as the game wore on he advanced up the pitch more and was attempting to forge attacks. 

Earlier, he shifted the ball out to Jadon Sancho and stopped in his tracks. After seemingly thinking about a raid forward, he drifted back towards the full-back area rather than trust his attacking instincts. It needed United to open the scoring for his confidence to increase. 

His one-v-one defending is still good when he faces wingers with pace, with enough speed to get himself out of trouble. He survived a handball shout early on when he bravely blocked one of Villarreal’s attacks. Referee Felix Brych, despite pressure from the Spanish team, turned away the protests and pointed to his chest, where it had hit Wan-Bissaka. Arnaut Danjuma had less success on that flank compared to Old Trafford when Wan-Bissaka was suspended.  

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