Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal’s position at Old Trafford survived yet another week after his ‘boring’ squad displayed enough freedom and flair in their entertaining 3-0 home victory over Stoke City.
Jesse Lingard managed to break the tradition of this season by netting a first-half home goal before Anthony Martial doubled the lead with an amazing curled finish into the top corner. Skipper Wayne Rooney despite a disallowed goal found the net with a close-range finish from Martial’s perfect pass to complete a comprehensive win and a welcome return to playing ‘the United way’.
Here is how we rate the Manchester United players.
David de Gea 6
The Spaniard would not have had much easier nights for Manchester United as he had virtually nothing to do against Stoke. The saves he displayed were actually after the referee had already blown the whistle for offside.
Matteo Darmian 6.5
His return to right-back position has resulted in the Red Devil’s improved form. Defensively well sound like most Italian defenders, even on several occasions his delivery in the final third was excellent, too.
Chris Smalling 6.5
Not that much composed with the ball as usual but didn’t have to be. He won a few headers against inconsistent Crouch and throughout the match looked well in control.
Daley Blind 6.5
The moment when Blind nicked the ball off Crouch’s toes underlined his improved performances. Although lost the giant striker once, but Crouch was offside as he headed in.
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson 7
His 19th birthday showed the growing maturity this young defender in enjoying. Broke forward consistently from left-back and the cross for Lingard’s goal was a masterpiece.
Michael Carrick 6.5
After coming back from the latest injury setback Carrick has managed to calm down Manchester United’s midfield in his usual understated way. Perhaps an outsider to make Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2016 England squad still but a few more performances like the one will certainly put him back in the reckoning. Still a passing master on his day.
Marouane Fellaini 6.5
Old Trafford got the chance to see the biter got bit when he challenged Crouch aerially and even got an arm across his face for his trouble before substituted late on. Critics will not stop but probably an effective defender at set-pieces.
Jesse Lingard 6.5
Finally ended the Red Devil’s four-month wait for a first-half goal when he stricken a header inside the box. This was his sixth appearances in a row and you can understand the confidence is gradually developing.
Juan Mata 7.5
Set the positive tone of the match with an early shot and also knitted play together well, none or so than in the first goal’s build-up. However should have scored a goal himself but surprisingly fluffed a close-range header. Eventually found Martial with another perfect ball in the build-up to the third goal.
Anthony Martial 8.5
Definitely an outstanding signing of van Gaal. A constant nightmare to Stoke’s weak defence, his goal for the Red Devil’s second flew past Butland even before the goalkeeper could make a move. Then sacrificed the chance to score again as he set up Rooney for a tap-in for the third. Substituted late on to a standing ovation.
Wayne Rooney 7
Playing with much more confidence than he has done in recent years. Twice he was involved in the build-up to Martial’s stunning goal, although was angry to see an effort disallowed for a push on Johnson, but then scored to take him within five of Sir Bobby Charlton’s club record.
Subs: Memphis Depay (for Martial 79) 5
He was very close with a late shot as he was trying to take a revenge for his dismal performance at Stoke last December, in which he was blamed for the first goal in a 2-0 shock defeat.
Ander Herrera (for Carrick 80) 5
Andreas Pereira (for Mata 88)
Unused subs: Sergio Romero (Gk), Guillermo Varela, Paddy McNair, Morgan Schneiderlin