First Team Player Ratings – 2018/19 Season: Many ‘professionals’ need a reality check only a few players can hold their heads high after this terrible season of football

Manchester United’s season is now over and many will be welcoming this as they will not have to suffer a lack of desire, ambition, determination, commitment and effort which this season seems to have delivered. Jose Mourinho started the season, was sacked in December 2018 and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was brought in as the caretaker manager, then being rewarded with a three-year contract at the end of March 2019.

By that time, the season was close to disaster despite the fact that United could have made the top four, using hindsight as the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Arsenal all dropped points over the last few weeks of the season, keeping a top four finish, at least mathematically, still possible if United had beaten Huddersfield Town in the penultimate match of the Premier League season.

The football under Mourinho was dire from the very start of the season and that improved, almost overnight when Solskjaer came in and United went through a winning run, which turned into an unbeaten run, which then turned into a period that many would rather forget. Many suggested that the players were to blame, some said it was all Mourinho’s fault and that was proven as incorrect pretty quickly as the same United squad then emerged.

This summer is going to be very important for United, who will need to be on the ball in the transfer market – something which they have never been in the past six years, which is worrying. Solskjaer will need to start getting in players who are able to play for the club without becoming obsessed with the wages they can gain, Snapchat or their clothing lines. It will be a tough job. Even tougher is the fact that many players in this squad have had their chance and need to be shipped out, which probably will not happen.

Here are the player ratings for the entire 2018/19 season for each player to have represented United at least once in any of the competitions the club has played in; Premier League, Carabao Cup, Emirates FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League. All ratings are out of ten stars, five being the level all players start out at during each game. If the player rates over five stars, they are doing well, less than five, they are not doing so well.

David De Gea: The Spanish number one played all 38 matches in the Premier League and nine out of the ten matches in the Champions League. We all know that David De Gea has saved United more than he has done the opposite for the club but ever since that win in Paris, he has not quite been playing at the same standards, for whatever reason. The club should have moved to secure his services a long time ago but his future still seems to be in limbo. Heading into the final year of his contract, it is possible that De Gea could leave this summer (the last chance to get a fee for him) or he could leave on a free at the end of next season. Not the position that United need to see themselves in. De Gea is a class act, when in form. One bad season does not make a bad goalkeeper. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Lee Grant: The 36-year-old made one appearance for United this season after Sergio Romero was sent off in the Carabao Cup match against Derby County, he replaced Juan Mata as United lost 8-7 on penalties after a 2-2 draw. Grant never made any further appearances for United, although he was the substitute goalkeeper at times. The veteran goalkeeper still has one year left at the club and it would be hard to see him play any more than a bit part role at the club. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Sergio Romero: The Argentinian goalkeeper is a great number two, probably the best number two in the Premier League. He has played in the Champions League and the FA Cup this season, making just five appearances in total. I personally would have liked to see more of him this season, especially in the final Premier League matches of the season, of which United had little to gain, in hindsight anyway. He’s still got two years on his contract, plus the option of another year so should still be part of the club going into the 2019/20 season. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Victor Lindelof: 44 appearances in all competitions for United this season, he was definitely the best central defender at the club. His first season was a bit of a washout but he soon stood firm and held his own in the league, which he struggled in the season before. The Swedish international needs a solid defensive partner at the club, preferably someone who can lead from the back, as United just does not have a leader in the squad, not a capable one anyway. Lindelof should hold his head high and learn from this season. It could be the best thing to motivate him to achieve next season as it will be a season which matters for every player that remains in the squad. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Eric Bailly: Just 17 appearances for United this season was worrying for the Ivorian, who has struggled with poor form and injuries, ending the season with a knee injury which will see him return to action during pre-season, probably. Bailly was the best defender in his debut season with the club so in his third, seemed to be left out more often than not. Last playing against Chelsea (1-1 draw), he seemed to be gaining some momentum, which was a shame. He has a year left at United and is currently linked to Arsenal if United can recoup the £30 million they spent on him nearly three years ago. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Phil Jones: The fact that he earned a new contract at the club says a lot about the future of Manchester United. Looking logically, it is probably because he is English and will fit the homegrown rule in competitions. I do not think he is any more than a squad player. 23 appearances in all competitions, some horrible performances amongst them. Injury prone, poor decision making, a lack of ability seems to show the real Phil Jones. Puts himself on the line at times, which was good to see. Gone are the days that having potential is an excuse for the player. He’s just not good enough for a club like United. It has not worked. Time to see if he can be offloaded. I’d rather see Axel Tuanzebe play ahead of him. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Chris Smalling: Over the past few years, Chris (Mike) Smalling has been praised for his involvement in matches. This season, that seemed to be thrown out of the window. Just 34 appearances this season suggests that it will soon be time to admit that he’s nothing more than a squad player if indeed he has a future at United. After coming through the ranks under Sir Alex Ferguson, like Jones, he’s not really shown any leadership skills or anything to suggest that he’s now the most experienced player at the club, in terms of service. His height is the main thing going for him and the fact he can use that to benefit the club with aerial challenges but that should not mean he’s part of the future of the club. He can be replaced and there are players in the academy that could do that. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Marcos Rojo: The Argentinian defender made just six appearances for United this season, playing around 257 minutes of football. Granted, he has suffered from some injuries but his poor form must be the main contributing factor. To think that he was given a new contract just last year and seems to be a player who has played his last game(s) for the club. He is rash, which is needed sometimes but every time he has played, he’s seemed to be a red card waiting to happen. He’s not a bad player, just does not fit into this team, just like many others at this club. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Ashley Young: The English defender has shown that he’s out of his depth at United this season. Last season he was being praised, especially representing England in the FIFA World Cup, which seems to have been a false dawn on what he could offer. His crossing is poor, his defending is poor and his pace seems to have gone. He’s a professional but by no means should he be playing for Manchester United at this stage of his career. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Diogo Dalot: The 19-year-old Portuguese fullback came into the season looking to find the experience to help him grow as a player. At times, he was a burst of fresh air into this squad, being a true fullback, not a converted winger. Granted, his experience was few and far between before signing for United but there is, deep inside, a great player looking to establish himself. He’s played as a right-back, a right-wing-back and even as a right-winger in his first season at the club. He famously put in the shot against Paris Saint-Germain which spurred VAR to grant United a penalty. In a few years, Diogo Dalot is going to be a great player to have in this squad. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Luke Shaw: The England left-back made 40 appearances for United this season (he had 20 in his first season, eight in his second and 19 each in his third and fourth). The see him overcome that terrible injury, which took three years off his career was great. Voted as the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year by the clubs supporters, also the Player’s Player of the Season by his teammates, he will not have a platform to propel himself much higher. At 23, Luke Shaw has the time to become something and much more work could do that. I feel that he’s had a good season; scoring his debut goal, adding four assists for teammates, shows the level he could reach. Hopefully, all the negativity has been put behind him and this summer, he could come back fit and able to start another new era which needs to be positive for him and his teammates and it needs to work more than ever. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Antonio Valencia: The veteran winger-cum-fullback played just nine times this season. Injury and form were considerable factors in the players final season at the club. 25 goals in 339 appearances for the club in ten seasons is not bad for him, considering he has been a right-back for the past six years or so. Valencia will be a big loss for United, in terms of ability. He had the pace and that great right foot, of which he’s scored many a goal with. Now there will be a new captain at the club and it needs to be a player with hunger, desire and sheer determination, which may not be found in many players already at the club. Valencia is a loss for United but his departure comes at the right time for him and the club. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Matteo Darmian: The Italian fullback made a total of eight appearances at United this season, playing more than 530 minutes of football. Still having a year left on his contract, it is hard to imagine the player still being at the club after the summer. There was interest in him last summer and during the January transfer window, so that should still be an option for him. Probably favouring a move back to Italy. He had such a good first season where he was compared to Gary Neville. It is a shame that it did not work out for him. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Paul Pogba: The Frenchman endured a tough season at United, his third season back at the club. Winning the FIFA World Cup with France should have given him the motivation to do the same for his club but it just did not happen. Many will say that Paul Pogba is the best player at United but for me, he’s nowhere near that level. Yes, he’s scored 16 goals, (half of them penalties) assisting a further ten in the 47 appearances he’s made this season, meaning he’s been involved in a goal (scoring or assisting) every two matches. The problem for me is the lack of leadership shown. He’s admitted himself that he did not do enough in matches, some of those whilst being the captain. Not good enough to not have the desire, determination and the ambition which is needed to be something magnificent at a club like United. He is subject to a lot of speculation with a move to Real Madrid. It was Barcelona last summer. Will he stay at United? If he does, he needs a major change to his attitude. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Juan Mata: The Spanish midfielder made 31 appearances for United this season, scoring five goals and assisting twice. He was often played in the right-wing role, of which he did not have to pace for, often cutting into the middle, where he had the attributes to play. His contract is up this summer and despite being offered a final contract offer by United, nothing seems to have been actioned. He is linked to Barcelona, along with many other clubs in his homeland. I would like to see him stay as I feel he could help teach Angel Gomes, who is of similar build, some key aspects to playing the game. He’s also an experienced head and seems to have the right attitude to succeed. It seems, by his blogs, that he cares about this club. That is something they need more of at United. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Jesse Lingard: Made just 35 appearances this season and suffered many injuries, which came at the wrong time for him. Scored five goals and got two assists, which was not all that bad but at this stage of his career, he should be doing a lot better. The dancing has become embarrassing of late as have the Snapchat videos, especially the one after Liverpool reached the Champions League final. Jesse Lingard seems to be all about his ego and image rather than about his footballing ability, which is wrong for a club like United. If he wants to be something more than a squad player, he needs to be performing on the pitch every time he walks on one. Otherwise, the decline will soon turn him into Sunderland standard. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Andreas Pereira: The 23-year-old made a total of 22 appearances for United this season, scoring one goal and assisting another, both against Southampton in the same match. The Belgium-born Brazilian may need to step up his game but he also needs to get himself into the starting XI more often than not. At this point in his career, he should be a player who is performing regularly and improving. Pereira was into his last year at the club this season and saw his one-year option (a clause in the contract) activated in March. He needs to show United that he is a player that has a place at the club and this coming season will be where he needs to show just that. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Fred: The Brazilian midfielder was the big signing from last summer and that has not worked out. The 26-year-old has found it hard to fit in at United. What were the scouts that scouted him thinking? Also, to throw around £50 million away in signing the player, who has little chance of succeeding, makes those who sorted out that deal look inept. He’s made 25 appearances, 12 of which came under Jose Mourinho, 13 under Solskjaer, scoring once getting two assists. His second season might be better than the first and it will have to be. I don’t think it is fair to write him off now but in a years time, if he’s still not performing, it will be just another big money signing which has failed and lost the club money. If only a footballing man was doing these deals for the club. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Ander Herrera: The Spanish midfielder has spent five years at the Old Trafford club and has already announced that his career at United is over, leaving as a free agent, which is a poor decision by the club, especially when you factor in that Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Ashley Young had been given new contracts ahead of him. Reports say he wanted a massive pay rise, which he might get with his new club; PSG? Herrera made 28 appearances this season, scoring three goals, also adding three assists to his tally. He was that ‘shithouse’ player in midfield who would do things no other player in the club would. He will be missed but perhaps the time is right to move in. This squad has been going nowhere for six years, it is time a new squad was built. Best of luck for the future. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Marouane Fellaini: The Belgian midfielder ended up signing a new deal in the summer, days before his contract was due to expire. I could see why he was kept but it seemed that he held the club to ransom in getting his new deal done. Marouane Fellaini made 21 appearances this season, twice under Solskjaer, playing about 31 minutes of football. It was clear that the player was not for him and he was allowed to leave during the January transfer window, leaving for China with Shandong Lueng purchasing the player. The supporters of the club got what they wanted, however, at stages after Fellaini left, United’s midfield was hit by injury, proving that he could have played a part but I personally would not have changed what happened for the world. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Nemanja Matic: The Serbian defensive midfielder has played 38 times for United this season in all competitions, scoring one goal. At times, he has been the driving force in the team (although not all that often). Other times, he has been slow, sluggish and unable to get the better of his opposition. It was good to see him sign for United but now, he is nothing more than an ailing squad player, if that. He is a true professional and has come out and apologised for his form, suggesting that he was the reason United had faltered. That is more than most of these professionals had done in admitting fault this season. He’s got another year at the club with an option for another. An experienced squad player, playing a bit part role might be all he has to offer now.⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

James Garner: The 18-year-old played just one minute of football for the first team this season, which was not ideal for him, but he was happy with it. Another player making his debut for this club at a young age. James Garner is a class act and has the talent, drive and determination to succeed. Predominantly a defensive midfielder, Garner could be the heir to Nemanja Matic or whoever else Ole Gunnar Solskjer will look to in this position. This lad has a good future ahead of him and he’s been a leader in the youth setup, which is a bonus. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Scott McTominay: The Scottish international has played 22 times for United this season, scoring two goals, although both came in poor performances for United (a 2-1 defeat to Wolves and a 1-1 draw with Huddersfield Town). After the Huddersfield draw, he was filmed sitting in the dugout after the match and looked like he was reeling, which was good to see. He has the passion and some think he’s got nothing else. He might not be a world-class player but can bring something to this team. He might not be the first choice as a starter but will give his all to this team. That, right now, is what United needs more of. Players who care and are willing and able to give their all for the team. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Angel Gomes: The 18-year-old is a great prospect at United and maybe should have played a bit more this season than his two Premier League appearances which amounted to just 25 minutes on the pitch. His passing, when he replaced Andreas Pereira in the 2-0 defeat to Cardiff City on the final day of the season, was second to none. He needs to be a regular next season, getting himself more experience and building his confidence in the squad. Sir Matt Busby once said; “if they are good enough, they are old enough,” or words to that effect. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Alexis Sanchez: The 30-year-old has been at United for 18 months or so and it, at least so far, has not worked for him. He has got three years left at the club though. Sadly though, I do not think it is going to work out. His reported wages are very high and one of the reasons for the problems at the club right now (other players have been seeking significantly higher wages and most of those have offered more than Alexis Sanchez has). The Chilean has made a total of 27 appearances this season, scoring two goals, assisting a further four. Based on what he achieved at Arsenal, it is clear that adding more time is going to continue this downward trajectory in his career. Rumours suggest that he could be leaving this summer, however, it will be another costly one for United. Ed Woodward never seems to learn, does he? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Romelu Lukaku: The Belgian striker has made 45 appearances for United this season, scoring 15 goals, adding a further three assists, which compared to his debut season at the club, has seen him achieve a lot fewer goals, which is a worry and a reason why Solskjaer did not use him as his first-choice striker during the second half of the season. It would be fair to say that the Belgian has not got a lot of creativity behind him and has to drop back to help in chance creation, often leaving nobody further forward which saw these chances wasted. That said, there are suggestions that he could be off to Italy in the summer, which would be good for both the player and United, allowing them to move on from something which just has not worked out. The only factor here is that Romelu Lukaku has three years remaining on his contract with the option of a fourth so if he is pushed out, it will be costly for United. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Marcus Rashford: The England forward has made a total of 47 appearances for United this season, largely playing as the main striker (under Solskjaer). This has seen the 21-year-old score a total of 13 goals, adding a further seven assists, which is a good amount of goals, considering that many forward players have shared the goals this season. He scored the winning penalty to see United into the quarter-finals of the Champions League, overcoming PSG in Paris but since that night, both he and United had not been the same. Rashford had a busy summer, which could have taken its toll and a break this summer, apart from playing for England twice next month, could be what he needs. However, he does not get off too easily as he is just as culpable as many players in the squad this season for not trying. This is part of the game and if these ‘professionals’ are not up to it, other players will be glad to step into their boots and play for this club. Marcus Rashford has a year left on his current contract with the option of a further year so this next season will be key for him. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Anthony Martial: The Frenchman was rewarded with a new contract (five years) weeks after Jose Mourinho was sacked, which was telling that the manager was one of the reasons he was ‘unhappy’. This season Anthony Martial has made a total of 38 appearances, scoring 12 goals, assisting a further two goals, which is not a great number for a player of his calibre. Martial has not seemed happy of late if at all he has ever been happy at United. His body language suggests that he just does not care and there have been many people, most of them professionals, who have challenged the player about his attitude. It is a shame as the lad has bags of potential and just needs to apply the relevant amount of effort and determination to let it shine. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tahith Chong: The 19-year-old Dutchman made four appearances for United in the Premier League, the Champions League and the FA Cup this season, all from the bench. He may only have played around 74 minutes of football (not including time added on) but he has shown his abilities and the fact that United have another capable player to field on the right-wing, which is a position that the club has struggled with for more than six to seven years. Tahith Chong is a player that Solskjaer could utilise a lot more next season, even in the Europa League. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Mason Greenwood: The 17-year-old became the youngest ever player to play in the Premier League for Manchester United (aged 17 years 223 days) when he made his full debut in the competition on the final day of the season, a 2-0 defeat to the already-relegated Cardiff City. Greenwood was a breath of fresh air and showed what could be served from him in the coming season if given the chance. Greenwood made four appearances for United, three in the league (one start) and one in the Champions League, against Paris Saint-Germain. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This summer, there is a lot of work to do, not only by Solskjaer but also the players and everyone else at the club. Manchester United will not achieve anything again with players who are not arsed about anything or with those in charge of the club not learning anything from the abject failure they have brought to the club over the last six years. United is no longer one of the bigger clubs in the Premier League or Europe. They are a fallen giant perched on a ledge which may see them either climb to safety or fall some more. Hopefully, nobody will want the latter.

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