February 26, 2024
No consolation for Antony after a disappointing Europa Performance | Player Ratings

No consolation for Antony after a disappointing Europa Performance | Player Ratings

It goes without saying that players and fans alike had a fair share of nightmares following the 1-0 loss to Real Sociedad in the Europa opener for the season.

The expectation was high but that was doused by the drastic dip in performance among some players topped by the newcomer Antony and Brazilian teammate Fred as well as Ronaldo. Perhaps, it is a reminder to Erik ten Hag that there is still much work to be done.

David Silva came back to haunt the Red Devils – though in controversial fashion – as the ex-Manchester City star won a second-half penalty when his shot struck the arm of Lisandro Martinez. Brais Mendez then stepped up to convert from the spot.

Manchester United had claimed all points winning four games in succession in the Premier League.

Now they can see that it’ll be a process to embed Antony into their system, while they face fresh questions over whether Cristiano Ronaldo can thrive under Ten Hag, with the 37-year-old failing to convert two gilt-edged chances.

Outstanding Performance for the night


Ever so quietly, the Brazilian gave a glimpse of the assuredness he will bring to Manchester United’s midfield.

His efficient use of the ball is something they have missed – while his disguised passes repeatedly put Manchester United on the front foot in the first half.

He was less effective when Christian Eriksen was replaced at half-time, but there were signs of what the pair will be able to do as a partnership.

By no means was it a towering full debut – but it is already apparent that he will be a fixture in this midfield.

David Silva:

On his return to Manchester, the Spanish magician was pivotal to this win, with his shot hitting the arm of Martinez in the box and prompting referee Marco Di Bello to point to the spot.

Mendez duly fired home the only goal of the match.

In truth, Silva was largely subdued, but it will have been particularly satisfying for him to silence the red half of the city.

Christian Eriksen:

Manchester United noticeably worsened when he went off.

It would have been interesting to see what he might have done if played in the No. 10 role – but even from a deeper position, he managed to thread passes through Real Sociedad’s defense.

Manchester United’s lack of threat after the break confirmed how vital he is to them.

Dips of the Night

Cristiano Ronaldo:

Finally handed his first start since that 4-0 defeat at Brentford – but this was a match that will raise further questions about his suitability to Ten Hag’s system.

It wasn’t that the Portuguese was unwilling to fit into Manchester United’s pressing game. It is rather a question of what that takes away from his natural qualities.

Ronaldo is one of the deadliest goal scorers of all time – yet it was notable just how uncertain he was when in the box.

He was fractions away from making contact with an Eriksen cross early on. Then he was guilty of mis-controlling a through-ball from the same player. A brilliant header looked to have given Manchester United the lead – but he needed to be in an offside position to get there. Then, in the second half, he failed to convert another header from close range after Bruno Fernandes’ perfect cross.

If allowed to concentrate solely on finding space in the box, would he be more decisive?

This is what Ten Hag must ask himself.

Fred at No. 10:

The decision to play the Brazilian furthest forward in the first half was a peculiar one from Ten Hag – especially ahead of Eriksen.

While he pressed and worked hard behind Ronaldo, his use of the ball was nowhere near good enough in that role.

Too often his passing was loose, causing to Manchester United to concede possession.

He dropped deeper when Fernandes came on for the second half, where he should have been all along.


This was some come down after his heroics against Arsenal.

Antony played on the periphery throughout – seemingly more concerned about Aihen Munoz’ threat than hurting Sociedad himself.

He didn’t look fit enough to burst into the danger zone, while his use of the ball rarely looked like opening up the visitors.

By the time he was taken off in the second half, it felt like mercy from his manager.

Manchester United Ratings: Defence

David de Gea (6/10):

Though he could not keep out Mendez’s penalty, he did everything else asked of him.

Diogo Dalot (6/10):

His first-half cross saw Ronaldo thunder a header home – but the offside flag ruled it out.

Harry Maguire (7/10):

Chosen on the right when he usually plays left when alongside Lindelof. This was a solid step forward for the Manchester United captain.

Victor Lindelof (6/10):

Won some important headers in the first half and was disciplined when switched to right-back after the break.

Tyrell Malacia (7/10):

Early burst forward was a sign of intent and he constantly forced Real Sociedad into retreat.


Casemiro (7/10):

Known for destructive qualities, but so efficient with his use of the ball and repeatedly played through Real Sociedad’s midfield.

Christian Eriksen (7/10):

The player was most likely to cut Real Sociedad open in the first half. One cross to Ronaldo was almost perfect – and then another through ball deserved a finish from the Portuguese forward.

Fred (5/10):

Started in the No. 10 position and never looked comfortable there. Simply does not have the accuracy to play such a creative role.


Anthony Elanga (5/10):

Most involved of United’s forwards early on – but faded after half-time.

Cristiano Ronaldo (5/10):

Certainly worked hard to be involved – and his ruled-out first-half header was a throwback to his glory years. But should have scored two golden chances.

Antony (5/10):

Never looked like repeating the feats of his debut. Looked very off the pace and subdued before being taken off.


Bruno Fernandes (6/10):

Immediate impact with a perfect cross that Ronaldo had to score from. Manchester United’s most threatening player in the second half.

Lisandro Martinez (6/10):

Wonderful clearance denied Sorloth a certain goal – but soon after conceded a penalty when charging down Silva’s effort, to give Real Sociedad the lead. Might have been the wrong call, though.

Jadon Sancho (4/10):

One errant shot typified his lack of impact.

Alejandro Garnacho (5/10):

A couple of bright sparks.

Questions for Erik ten Hag

Why did he play Fred at No. 10? The Brazilian never looked capable of opening up Real Sociedad.

Meanwhile, he has serious questions to ask himself about his plans for Ronaldo. He’s got the veteran chasing and pressing – but is that really the best use of one of the deadliest finishers the game has ever known?

Read Also: How will Ronaldo fare at the 2022 World Cup – Luis Figo makes prediction & names best team

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