Saturday, October 19, 2013

Just Punishment: Manchester United 1 - Southampton 1 -- Game Summary and Player Ratings

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Photo by Rachel Kramer Bussel on Flickr

Adam Lallana scored an 88th minute equalizer to peg back Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday, the latest setback in a season full of them for the Red Devils' increasingly under-fire Manager David Moyes.  Only the most ardent of United supporters would deny Southampton their point on a day in which the visitors outplayed the home team in virtually every facet of the game.

This year's United squad seem unable to keep the ball, and the visiting Saints were keen to exploit that deficiency, pressing the error-prone United midfield and backline into giveaways and inaccurate passes all afternoon long.  Other than the undeniable spark provided by the coltish Adnan Januzaj, the United attack looked flabby and uninterested again this afternoon, a possible sign of tired legs or a lack of cohesion in the locker room.  Compounding matters for the frustrated fan base, the team and its Manager appear to have fallen into a defensive shell as the game neared the 70th minute, hoping their once-invincible Old Trafford fortress would provide them the support necessary to stretch a shaky lead all the way to the finish line.  Unfortunately for both the team and Moyes, the strategy failed to work, and United were justly punished on the afternoon.

It's early days, but three wins in eight league games was clearly not the start the club was hoping for.  The glum reaction after Lallana's strike from former manager Alex Ferguson and former United CEO David Gill, sitting side by side in the Old Trafford Directors' Box, told the story of the game: another disappointing performance, more dropped points, and the pressure beginning to mount. 

Herewith, our individual player ratings on a game that has to be seen as a collective loss

De Gea: Stood up to the early pressure from the visitors, and denied Clyne from point blank range as the game wore on. Unclear if he could have done more on Lallana's late equalizer. 6.5

Rafael: Offered more than the alternatives at right back and his defensive brain farts seem to be fewer and further between these days. 6.5

Jones: Could he finally be fulfilling his promise as a center back? Jones offered a quietly efficient performance today and made a crucial second half interception to shut down a threat. Missed a late clearance when moved to midfield to accommodate Smalling. 7.0

Evans: Doesn't give off the same air of authority as Vidic, but cleaned up an awful lot of messes.  A generally confident performance from the Northern Irishman. 7.0

Evra (c): Made some nice attacking runs and overlapped well with Januzaj. 6.0

Nani: Looked lively on the right wing and offered accurate crosses: a novel concept for United this season. 7.0

Carrick: Forced to play a deeper role with Fellaini involved. He's not playing at nearly the same level as he did last season. 5.5

Fellaini: Turnovers and poor touches remained the norm for the Belgian. It's becoming clear that he's unsuited for the role in which Moyes is playing him -- which is strange given their collective history. Fellaini fouled often to break up Southampton's play, but was too easily beaten too many times to be considered for a central midfield role. 4.0

Januzaj: Adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the team. Unleashed Rooney and RVP for the early breakthrough with a perfectly weighted through ball. His whippet-like movement caused Southampton's midfield and defense continual problems, and his dipping shot from 25 yards gave Boruc all he could handle. 7.5

Rooney: Unlucky when he damaged the crossbar in the 28th minute. Dropped deeper in the second half, and while he looked decent linking up with RVP, poor touch often plagued his performance. 6.5

Van Persie: Fought hard to get involved and was rewarded when Boruc's first half deflection fell to his feet. A typically classy finish from a tight angle gave his side the early lead. His second half header hit the bar for a goal that would have sealed the deal. 6.5


Giggs (Nani), 69:  He may be first choice off the bench in the Moyes regime, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to figure out why. 4.5

Welbeck (Fellaini), 77:  Sprung free late on, but failed to get the ball to a wide open Rooney.  Switched off on defense to allow Southampton a late shot. 4.5

Smalling (Rooney), 87: Taking off an attacker for a defender with the lead at home?  That's pointless, which is almost what United were on the day, as well. N/A

This is farlieonfootie for October 19.

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