Jose Mourinho began his Manchester United tenure with four straight wins, seeing the club through to a spot at the summit of the Premier League table and winning the FA Community Shield. The best is yet to come, but the performances from the players have been more than promising thus far. But how do the players stack up over the course of the month? Manchester United Player Power Rankings takes United’s previous five competitive matches (or four in this case) and compares the form of every United player to appear in those matches on a bi-weekly basis.
18. Marcos Rojo, 26, Left-Back; Appearances: 0 (1)
Marcos Rojo was unable to make an impact, only coming on as a substitute in the FA Community Shield. Hopefully, a United career can be made out of another player who seemingly had none left.
17. Chris Smalling, 26, Centre-Back; Appearances: 0 (2)
Chris Smalling appeared to be a substitute, to kill the game off, but he really didn’t play any role on the pitch other than wasting time and probably played less than 10 minutes, cumulatively. He has a tough job getting back into the side, but it was nice to see him back.
16. Morgan Schneiderlin, 26, Defensive Midfielder; Appearances: 0 (2)
Jose Mourinho used Schneiderlin the same way as Smalling, as a late substitute to close out games. He went to the Euros in France, didn’t play a single minute and missed most of the summer in the process, so it will take some time for him to reach full fitness. Fellaini went down with an injury at Hull, meaning the Frenchman could be thrown in the deep end for the Manchester Derby. Mourinho was giving him heavy instructions whenever he entered the pitch, seemingly related to closing space.
15. Michael Carrick, 35, Defensive Midfielder; Appearances: 1
Michael Carrick started one match against Leicester City, where he ultimately did his job without doing anything special. He’s reached the age where he’ll seldom put in a world class performance, but his presence is undeniable nonetheless.
14. Ander Herrera, 27, Defensive Midfielder; Appearances: 1 (1)
Ander Herrera put in a quietly excellent display against Bournemouth, completing the third most passes of any player in the Premier League that week. He remains a wonderful option to call upon, and happy to be a part of the rotation. Such is the quality of United’s performances that such a high performer is near the bottom of the list.
13. Marcus Rashford, 18, Left-Winger; Appearances: 0 (2)
Marcus Rashford hasn’t had enough time to play this month, despite his late goalscoring heroics against Hull City. Every forward ahead of him has also been involved in an important goal, regardless of just how timely his goal was. Much like the goal, Rashford’s time will come.
12. Jesse Lingard, 23, Right-Winger; Appearances: 1
Again, it would be unfair to place Jesse Lingard any higher, regardless of his goal-scoring heroics and all-round display during the FA Community Shield. He sustained an injury that day and United fans will wait eagerly for his return.
11. Juan Mata, 27, Right-Winger; Appearances: 3 (1)
Mata’s strange substituted-substitute appearance at the FA Community Shield was followed by three starts in the Premier League. He scored by chasing a lost cause against Bournemouth, and looked tidy, but seemed ineffective. Playing on the right is unfair to him.
10. Anthony Martial, 20, Left-Winger; Appearances: 4
Martial seems to be having problems off the pitch, and they are beginning to seemingly impact his performances on the pitch. Nonetheless, his dribbling is dangerous, he provides some much-needed pace and he bagged two assists. Louis van Gaal said not to expect anything from the Frenchman, who proceeded to blow everyone away, so give him some time.
9. Wayne Rooney, 30, Attacking Midfielder; Appearances: 4
Wayne Rooney’s goal and three assists (one of which was undeserved) make up for his terrible performances in all four matches. His work rate is admirable and he has moments of magic, so he’ll either have to continue producing a goal every game or significantly improve his ability as a footballer.
8. David De Gea, 25, Goalkeeper; Appearances: 4
David De Gea hasn’t had much to do, keeping two clean sheets, commanding his back line and looking assured when called upon. United’s best player seldom has much to do for the first time in years, but when he does, we all know he’ll show his quality.
7. Paul Pogba, 23, Central Midfielder; Appearances: 2
Joining the club and serving a suspension for his first game, Paul Pogba entered the setup in United’s third game of the season. Arguably the best individual performance across all matches was his miraculous display against Southampton, but Hull limited him moving forward by fouling him at every opportunity. Expect him to move up the list with more playing time.
6. Marouane Fellaini, 28, Defensive Midfielder; Appearances: 4
Starting in all of United’s matches, Marouane Fellaini looked great in the first three barring an error that made him the sole cause of Leicester City’s equaliser. Against Hull, he looked vulnerable because he couldn’t recover as fast as the likes of Pogba, Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia, and he sustained an injury. He looks a new player.
5. Antonio Valencia, 31, Right-Back; Appearances: 4
Antonio Valencia, much like Fellaini, has had a great renaissance, playing admirably in all four games and picking up an assist, also being the starting point of a few other goals. His crossing is far better, his defensive positioning continues to improve and he seems to be a key tactical part of United’s attack.
4. Luke Shaw, 21, Left-Back; Appearances: 4
It is absolutely wonderful to have Luke Shaw, the second of United’s four defenders in the top five, back. He is incredible defensively, already, and drives forward with arguably greater pace than Valencia. His flawless positioning and great recovery pace allow him to just edge Valencia.
3. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 34, Striker; Appearances: 4
It’s four goals in four games for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has started his United career with an absolute bang. He failed to score against Hull City, but he grabbed the winners against Leicester City and Southampton and a cracker against Bournemouth. He’s an incredible presence both on and off the pitch, a world class footballer and embodies the competitive nature with which United will carry themselves forward this season.
2. Eric Bailly, 22, Centre-Back; Appearances: 4
Eric Bailly’s performances earned him three Man of the Match awards in United’s first four games, with assured and aggressive displays at the heart of United’s defence. He looks both a solid defender and a great prospect for improving, as he begins to improve his composure and passing of the ball. Bailly already looks like one of the best defenders in the league, and he has barely arrived.
1. Daley Blind, 26, Centre-Back;Appearances: 4
Eric Bailly’s Man of the Match awards, as well as he played, were a little bit unfair to Daley Blind, who was phenomenal over the course of the month. Blind passes the ball incredibly, shows so much composure and can shut down sides all by himself. Particularly in the Hull game, Blind showed his true colours. He’s smarter than every other player on the pitch, which, if you speak to strikers, represents a tougher prospect than physicality. He’s the most uncredited footballer I’ve seen in such a long time, by both opposition fans and United fans.