Our player-by-player verdict on Man Utd's squad: Who is most at fault for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's sacking?

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Our player-by-player verdict on Man Utd's squad: David De Gea outstanding but Harry Maguire woeful
Our player-by-player verdict on Man Utd's squad: David De Gea outstanding but Harry Maguire woeful

The curtain has finally come down on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's reign following Saturday's crushing 4-1 defeat at Watford.

United have taken just four points from the last available 21 in the Premier League and are now in a battle to finish in the top four.

Amid growing discontent in the dressing room and the dismissal of Solskjaer, Telegraph Sport runs the rule over United's squad and rates their performances so far this year.

David De Gea

It was Jose Mourinho who once said you know United have problems when their goalkeeper keeps winning the player-of-the-year awards and the club are back in that territory again. De Gea has been the best player by some distance this season and his damning indictment of a team who do not know what to do with the ball or how to defend in the wake of the Watford debacle spoke volumes.

The team’s slide has coincided with the goalkeeper’s dramatic return to form and United’s predicament would probably be even worse but for some outstanding showings from the Spaniard. There were big performances against Southampton, Wolves, Villarreal, Everton and Atalanta, he was United’s man of the match despite conceding four goals against Leicester, and ended his penalty hoodoo by denying Mark Noble from the spot to secure victory against West Ham. The Watford game could have been even uglier but for De Gea saving Ismaila Sarr’s first penalty and retaken spot-kick early in the game. Even against Manchester City the scoreline would have been far more severe but for his heroics.

Rating: 9/10

Aaron Wan-Bissaka

One of several players who is going backwards, his confidence at rock bottom, and it may require quite the job to restore it. His performance against Watford encapsulated his woes. United have failed to cultivate the attacking part of his game, with his passing, crossing and movement all leaving much to be desired, but even his defending is suffering now. He was sent off against Young Boys in September when his heavy first touch finally caught up with him and he has largely been in a tailspin since then.

Not in the equation as far as England are concerned with Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Reece James among others all far ahead of him. It is easy to understand why Solskjaer wanted to sign Trippier in the summer but harder to fathom how, out of the 804 right-backs United analysed before signing Wan-Bissaka, they felt he best ticked all their boxes.

Rating: 2/10

Victor Lindelof

Parachuted back in of late due to Raphael Varane’s injury, the Swede can pass but Watford’s pressing trapped him in possession, with few options to pick out, and he continues to struggle with the pace and physicality of the Premier League and is particularly vulnerable defending set-pieces or aerial balls. There is a whiff of the former Arsenal defender Philippe Senderos about him.

Rating: 4/10

Raphael Varane

Even the silky France defender would have been hard pressed to stop this slide but he was sorely missed due to injury during a torrid week when United shipped 11 goals in three games against Leicester, Atalanta and Liverpool and again in the shocking defeats to City and Watford, when they conceded six. The Frenchman had settled quickly following his summer move from Real Madrid and his return from a hamstring injury cannot come quickly enough for a team in freefall.

Rating: 8/10

Harry Maguire

Sent off against Watford for a second bookable offence after Tom Cleverley exposed more sluggishness on the ball, the United captain is in the worst form of his career and needs taking out of the team. Solskjaer’s hopes that two goals for England during the international break would trigger an upturn proved hopelessly misplaced. One of three England players to make Uefa’s Euro 2020 team of the tournament, Maguire’s form has nosedived since he was rushed back from three weeks out with a calf injury against Leicester after one day’s full training on the grass and his performances continue to go from bad worse. The world’s costliest defender is an accident waiting to happen at the moment.

Rating: 2/10

Luke Shaw

United’s most consistent performer last season, the left-back carried that form into the Euros with England but he has been a shadow of that player this season and admitted after an error-strewn display against Liverpool that he had to raise his game. His mix-ups with Maguire have been a symbol of United’s chaos.

Rating: 3/10

Diogo Dalot

The Portuguese was given the chance to stake a claim this season after United’s finances would not stretch to a move for Trippier in the summer but, with Wan-Bissaka suspended, he endured a torrid time against Villarreal in the Champions League when he was routinely targeted by Unai Emery’s side. He had not been seen since until he appeared as a second-half substitute against Leicester following Paul Pogba’s red card and struggled when he came on late against Watford.

Rating: 5/10

Scott McTominay

Another player whose development and confidence have collapsed. He impressed in the win against Tottenham but too many games are bypassing him and he is another who may benefit from some time out of the team. McTominay is probably most comfortable as a classic box-to-box No 8 but he is usually asked to sit deep and that role does not play to his strengths. Has been chasing shadows of late.

Rating: 3/10

Fred

So often United’s scapegoat even though there are others who are just as culpable for the mess on the pitch. Like McTominay, he is another who is not a classic defensive midfielder despite routinely being deployed as part of a double pivot. He lacks the composure and quality on the ball United are desperately missing in central midfield, although Brazil seem to have a lot less trouble getting a tune out of the player.

Rating: 3/10

Nemanja Matic

A popular and senior member of the squad, there is surprise Matic does not feature more regularly, even if it is clear that, at 33, he does not have the mobility he used to. Usually good on the ball even if he was getting dragged down with the rest of them during a rare start against Watford.

Rating: 5/10

Donny van de Beek

Solskjaer claims Van de Beek has not been frozen out but, to everyone else, it looks just like that. He has made only four league starts since joining United 14 months ago and his continued omission is a source of bafflement for many, including team-mates, given the poor form of so many others, the efforts the Dutchman took in the summer to improve his physical strength, his brighter showings in training and his technical quality on the ball. He had played just 15 minutes of Premier League football this season before his half-time introduction at Watford when he scored and set up a chance for Cristiano Ronaldo with a defence-splitting pass that the Portuguese should have finished.

Rating: impossible to mark as not had a look in

Mason Greenwood

After three goals in United’s first three games, when he looked their best player, the prodigiously talented 20-year-old striker has managed just one in his past 11 outings and is not being improved in anything like the way he should be. He is an outstanding finisher and one of the most exciting young prospects in Europe but the defensive part of his game requires development and with so many parts of the team imploding he is finding it difficult. It was decided Greenwood would stay away from the England fold this year but he looks like a player who would benefit greatly from time in different hands.

Rating: 6/10

Jadon Sancho

No one said the transition to English football would be straight forward but the severe struggles of a player Solskjaer courted for over two years and spent £73m to sign in the summer neatly encapsulate the mess that has taken root. Watford was his first start in six matches and he looked totally lost. A creative and goalscoring force in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund, Sancho’s crisis of confidence has been reflected in his reluctance to dribble and beat men, a hallmark of his game in Germany. After being drilled in Dortmund’s structured pressing game and Manchester City’s pattern play before that, Sancho seems completely confused at United.

Rating: 3/10

Bruno Fernandes

One of only four players to start all 12 league matches this season, United’s talisman for the past 18 months has been dragged down with the rest of them this season and delivered one of his worst performances in a red shirt against Watford. His game appears to have been thrown off kilter in part by the arrival of compatriot Ronaldo and his attempts to force the issue in recent weeks have only compounded problems.

Rating: 4/10

Paul Pogba

Sent off only 15 minutes after coming on against Liverpool, it felt like the lowest moment in the Frenchman’s baffling Old Trafford career and drew a savage response from former United midfielder Paul Scholes, who claimed he would not be missed if he never played for the club again. Out of contract at the end of the season, Pogba is not expected to be seen again until the new year due to a serious thigh injury and a parting of ways seems in the best interests of everyone involved.

Rating: 3/10

Marcus Rashford

Dragged off at half-time against Watford by Solskjaer, Rashford has scored three goals in seven appearances since his return from a three-month lay-off following shoulder surgery but has come into a team in disarray. He scored and was bright when he came on against Leicester and he got another goal against Atalanta when his running caused the Italians all sorts of problems. He looked inhibited by a dead leg against Liverpool and had been ill for several days before being thrown on at half-time against City. Another talented young forward in a rut who would benefit from working under a top-class coach.

Rating: 5/10

Jesse Lingard

Outstanding on loan during the second half of the season for West Ham, Solskjaer’s continuing omission of the England forward this season has left team-mates scratching their heads. Lingard offers clever, intelligent movement and urgency and intensity out of possession, attributes United are missing, but he has yet to start a league match and his exasperation has reached fever pitch. Talks over a new contract have been abandoned and Lingard is eyeing an escape route as he prepares to enter the final six months of his existing deal. Scored a sublime winner against West Ham in the league.

Rating: 6/10

Anthony Martial

A mercurial presence who returned from a long lay-off at the start of the season and has since been troubled by more injury niggles and a lack of playing time. Has long blown hot and cold and drifted far down the pecking order.

Rating: 5/10

Cristiano Ronaldo

Nine goals in 13 appearances and rescued United in the Champions League games against Villarreal and Atalanta when he got the winner in both matches, but Solskjaer has struggled to find a way to get the Portugal forward’s talents to complement the rest of his attack and, at present, there is a troubling disconnect among the forward players. For all the defensive chaos, United are struggling to score, too. Jamie Carragher is among those who have claimed that Ronaldo’s signing was better for the Premier League in general than United specifically but in the hands of another manager would things be very different?

Rating: 7/10

Edinson Cavani

A hugely-popular figure among the fans, Cavani’s season has been severely impeded by injury and the internationals and he is sidelined again, this time with a hamstring injury. He impressed alongside Ronaldo in a 3-5-2 against Spurs and United are missing his experience, nous and work rate.

Rating: 6/10

Do you agree with this United squad verdict? Who's pulling their weight and who's letting the team down? Let us know in the comments

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