On a night when it felt like it all could have gone wrong, we give credit where credit is due. Ole and the squad put on a complete performance in a 6-0 drubbing of Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup 4th round. It would have been very predictable for United to go out and give a sub-par performance, only to blame it on pitch conditions and opposition tactics. Instead, the Reds showed perhaps more attacking intent and cohesion than they have all season.
Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – 9
Positive: Although Tranmere were dreadful, it was very much down to Ole’s team selection and tactical set-up that led to such an overwhelming victory today. Set up in a 3-4-1-2, United were able to dominate in numbers in the midfield: on defense they pressed hard and created turnovers all game; on offense they moved the ball quickly and forward with purpose.
Negative: Would have liked Ole to figure out another way to rest Matic, while also giving Fred the day off. Up 5-0 at half, there’s enough reason for him to remove Maguire and Matic for Bailly and Chong. Move Lindelof into the center of midfield, and just see out the game for an easy five goal victory. Fred plays almost every single game and this should have been an off-day. A minor stain on otherwise perfect day for OGS.
GK: Sergio Romero – 8
Did not have much to do but commanded the air better than De Gea and made a couple of strong saves. Continues to be the best backup keeper in the world and DDG will start to feel the pressure of Romero, and the return of Dean Henderson from loan, this summer.
RWB: Diogo Dalot – 7
It’s plain as day at the moment why Ole deploys Dalot more as an attacking option than a straight-up fullback. On the offensive side of the ball, Dalot was very strong today. Dropped to help his teammates, moved the ball quickly and forward, and had a beautiful cut-back and finish for his goal. On the other side of the ball, Dalot was beat far too often and turned too easily.
RCB: Victor Lindelof – 7
Did not have much to do today on either side of the ball. Most of our action started at the foot of Harry Maguire and defensively, Lindelof was not put under much pressure. Did give away a couple of fouls due to lack of strength.
CB: Phil Jones – 6
Almost a very classic Phil Jones half of football, after he was yellow carded and then went down injured. Had a normal clumsy day and was abused a few times by Ferrier, especially on a run in the 60th minute. Class header for a looping goal that arguably caught the keeper out of position (keeper today for Tranmere was shocking). The goal surprised everyone, but most of all, Phil Jones.
LCB: Harry Maguire – 9
On the heels of two straight poor performances to start his captaincy, Maguire redeemed himself with a MOTM performance. Brought the ball out from the back with comfort, passed through the lines, and scored a shot from distance that made you jump out of your seat. The two reasons this was not a 10/10 are: Tranmere really didn’t test us defensively at all; and on the ball they did not pressure Maguire either. When on the ball, Maguire was on a walk in the park. He played a fantastic game and had it been against better opposition, it would be a 10.
LWB: Luke Shaw – 7
Like most of the back-line, had very little to do on the defensive end and was given ample amount of time on the ball. Got forward well but lacked the passing ability in the final third. Did well though considering United scored 5 in the half, with Shaw dealing with the worst of the pitch problems.
CDM: Andreas Pereira – 4
Not much to say here. Even in a performance where United dominated in every facet, Pereira was still sub-par. Worked hard as always, but loses the ball far too often when the pass is anything but simple.
CDM: Nemanja Matic – 8
Dominated the center of the park in the first half and Tranmere made him look like Matic of 3-4 years ago. Broke up play and dictated the tempo of United’s dominance by moving the ball forward quickly through the line. Correctly taken off at halftime for a well deserved break.
CAM: Jesse Lingard – 7
Played his best game in ages. Pressed harder than anyone else and yet managed to drop deeper as a passing option for his teammates. Got his goal with a decent finish that was arguably the keeper being caught out of position. Combined with Martial, Matic and Shaw well to move the ball quickly.
ST: Mason Greenwood – 7
Was actually quiet in a first half in which United dominated. Helped move the ball quickly with his teammates, but did not create anything or have any significant chances. Calmly buried his penalty on his ‘weaker’ foot and you could see what it meant to him. The only forward player without his goal gets his – you love to see it.
ST: Anthony Martial – 8
Was the focal point of the attack and did everything you want from a striker. Made far more forward runs than the last few games and dropped to link play with Lingard and Greenwood well. Perhaps slightly lucky with the minor deflection for his goal, but it was a great finish and well deserved.
SUB: Fred – 6
Should not have been out there and it didn’t look like he wanted to be out there. Was on cruise control and looked annoyed at the constant challenges coming in from behind him.
SUB: Tahith Chong – 7
Looked lively, which is what he’s known to be. Did well to pick up where Martial left off and was lightening quick to beat the opposing keeper to a through ball and drew a penalty. Chong also hit the crossbar late into the second half.
SUB: Brandon Williams – 6
Came on for Maguire, giving the captain a break, and changed our formation to a four at the back. Did not have much impact on the game.