How Manchester United's out-of-form players performed under Michael Carrick

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Jadon Sancho (left to right, clockwise), Michael Carrick, Manchester United's starting XI vs Villarreal and Donny van de Beek - How Manchester United’s out-of-form players performed under Michael Carrick - GETTY IMAGES / REUTERS
Jadon Sancho (left to right, clockwise), Michael Carrick, Manchester United's starting XI vs Villarreal and Donny van de Beek - How Manchester United’s out-of-form players performed under Michael Carrick - GETTY IMAGES / REUTERS

Manchester United are through to the Champions League Round of 16 after second-half goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho, his first for the club since his move in the summer, sealed victory over Villarreal.

And Mike McGrath was on hand to analyse how five players, who have been under fire this season, performed in Michael Carrick's first game as interim manager.

Donny van de Beek

This fixture was a reminder of how badly the Holland international midfielder had fallen under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. In last year’s Europa League final, with the destination of the trophy in the balance, Solskjaer did not trust Van de Beek, sending on Fred and Daniel James in extra-time instead.

Michael Carrick handed him his first start, two months after he was selected in a League Cup game. He was expected to help support Ronaldo with attacks from a No 10 position but it was difficult to impose himself on the game with United surrendering possession.

Much of his work was done in defensive areas as United risked getting overrun in midfield. He deserves credit for assessing that problem rather than abandoning defensive duties to attack. But he was clearly short of match-fitness, his runs half a second behind his team-mates and a mistimed tackle on Pervis Estupiñán, earning a yellow, showing that he needs a run of games to get his rhythm. Taken off after 65 minutes.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Under Solskjaer he received criticism for not getting forward enough or providing quality crosses for attackers to get on the end of. Carrick’s arrival hardly turned him into Cafu overnight, although as the game wore on he advanced up the pitch more and was attempting to forge attacks.

Earlier, he shifted the ball out to Sancho and stopped in his tracks. After seemingly thinking about a raid forward, he drifted back towards the full-back area rather than trust his attacking instincts. It needed United to open the scoring for his confidence to increase.

His one-vs-one defending is still good when he faces wingers with pace, with enough speed to get himself out of trouble. He survived a handball shout early on when he bravely blocked one of Villarreal’s attacks. Referee Felix Brych, despite pressure from the Spanish team, turned away the protests and pointed to his chest, where it had hit Wan-Bissaka. Arnaut Danjuma had less success on that flank compared to Old Trafford when Wan-Bissaka was suspended.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka (left) and Arnaut Danjuma - How Manchester United’s out-of-form players performed under Michael Carrick - AFP
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (left) and Arnaut Danjuma - How Manchester United’s out-of-form players performed under Michael Carrick - AFP

Harry Maguire

At Watford in his last action as a Solskjaer player, he looked shellshocked and out of control as he was dismissed. Here he seemed to have collected himself and ready to start afresh.

Maguire was put up for media duties before the game and admitted the players “have to take a big responsibility as well" following Solskjaer’s dismissal. At least there was a response from the players, even if they were overrun at times as Villarreal put pressure on David de Gea’s goal.

United still looked vulnerable with Maguire and Victor Lindelof at the heart of their defence and it needed De Gea to save them with a string of impressive saves.

Maguire marshalled the backline and tried to keep possession but it was tough against a team intent on pressing, which led to Manu Trigueros fouling the England centre-back. The hosts’ best route to goal seemed to be cutback crosses. A third clean sheet of the season, which shows how well they did in Spain and also their problems this season.

Jadon Sancho

A spectacular first goal for United, crashing his finish off the bar in the final stages. It rewarded him for a fine performance.

In the first half when United barely saw the ball it was naturally difficult for Sancho to make an impact on the game. But he remained patient and made good decisions when his team-mates eventually found him.

Just before the half-hour mark, he showed what he was capable of with a pacy cross that was inviting a striker to finish off - and it needed Raúl Albiol to hack away from his own six-yard area.

His first run saw him collect the ball from a De Gea throw and attack Villarreal at speed before laying off a pass that Van de Beek should have done better with, and would have with more match-fitness.

In the second half, he was sent through and should have scored his first United goal but Gerónimo Rulli saved. United’s £73-million summer signing was willing to muck in for a result. Despite his price tag, he was the “draught excluder”, laying on the floor to block a free-kick from going under the wall.

Anthony Martial

Carrick made a huge call by picking the French forward for his first Champions League start of the season and just his fourth in all competitions. He was picked ahead of Marcus Rashford, who has been in good form.

Martial tried to link up with Alex Telles on the left flank but it was a frustrating hour or so for him before he was taken off. He tried to get on the ball and cut inside his full-back but Villarreal looked in control of the game while Martial was on the pitch.

It was only when Carrick made his substitutions that United got into the game more and Ronaldo snatched his goal. His presence adds competition to get in the team as Bruno Fernandes and Rashford push for recalls.

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