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Bruno to the rescue! Man Utd winners, losers & ratings as Fernandes saves sloppy team-mates in Carabao Cup

Bruno Fernandes delivered the go-ahead goal during a fiery second half in which he showed his customary edge. The midfielder angrily clashed face-to-face with Aston Villa players as he inspired his team-mates. He may not be popular among rivals, but Old Trafford sure does love him.

It was a needed shot of energy for the Red Devils, who made sloppy defensive mistakes in transition and didn’t wake up until the latter stages of the game.

After losing to this same Aston Villa squad in the Premier League last weekend, history appeared set to repeat as the visitors took the lead for the second time in the 61st-minute through a Leon Bailey shot deflected in by Diogo Dalot.

 

Erik ten Hag called on the cavalry from his bench to help Fernandes kick the side into gear. Those substitutes did the trick. Alejandro Garnacho was alive once again and after Marcus Rashford levelled proceedings, it was the young Spaniard who assisted Fernandes’ winning strike.

The Winners

Bruno Fernandes:

Sure, not everything he tries comes off and yes it can be incredibly frustrating when he opts to go to ground too easily, but Fernandes’ influence on this United XI is massive.

Being able to give him the ball in tight areas against teams who are sat in a low block is key. Be it a flick around the corner, a pop shot or a lofted pass into space, he’s got it all in his locker.

His emotional energy, when channeled to galvanise team-mates, is infectious in the best of ways. It’s been at the heart of United’s good moments this campaign.

You’d like to see it more consistently from Fernandes, who was by no means perfect tonight, but his presence was absolutely felt.

Diogo Dalot:

The Dalot resurgence was an admittedly unexpected but very welcome plot twist at Old Trafford.

When Jose Mourinho picks you out as a teenager to come and play at United, you obviously have something special about you. But it had began to feel like the ship had sailed. How wrong we all were.

Dalot was crucial once again, and his presence on the right-hand side has very quickly become central to helping Erik ten Hag’s side slice open teams. Villa’s second goal wasn’t at all his fault, but instead that of his colleagues. He was put in an impossible position.

A January right-back addition would probably be ideal, though, because United will struggle if he gets injured.

Marcus Rashford:

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the goal, shall we? Because it was that good.

On the day Rashford’s place at the World Cup was confirmed, he put United back on level terms at Old Trafford with a composed effort that he wouldn’t have scored three years ago. Hurdling several challenges inside a frantic penalty area, Rashford adjusted his feet, turned on the ball and smashed hard and low to beat the goalkeeper. A proper striker’s finish.

A confident Rashford is a scary one for the opposition. And boy does he look confident once again. Now please stop being offside.

The Losers

Harry Maguire:

Every time Maguire pulls on the United shirt under Ten Hag, something seems to go awry.

Admittedly, too often there has been a media pile on on the 29-year-old, but criticism is fair and again necessary. Simply put, he’s just not at the required level to be playing in a developing United outfit, or any other top side – and that includes the England setup.

Maguire lacks the pace to make recovery runs which results in him dropping too deep or getting caught out, as he was for Ollie Watkins’ opener. He lacks agility in equal measures and can’t make up for it with aggression. It’s time to move on.

Fred:

A very, very poor night at the office for the Brazilian, who did not play like a man just named in the Selecao World Cup squad.

That brief period under Ralf Rangnick earlier this year had United fans thinking ‘what if?’ regarding Fred and the tutelage of Ten Hag. But just as he seemed to be finding his feet, they’ve gone again.

His passing was incredibly poor, he was caught on the ball too often and when Christian Eriksen came on, the difference was night and day.

IShowSpeed:

For those who haven’t become aware of internet sensation ‘IShowSpeed’ at this point, where have you been living the last few months?

The endlessly entertaining and rather frighteningly outgoing streamer has blown up in 2022 for his sudden idolisation of Cristiano Ronaldo and, as such, Manchester United.

‘Speed’ resides in Ohio and blew up when saying his favourite football team was ‘Cristo Ronaldo’ earlier this year, before butchering his iconic ‘SIU’. That sparked a love affair like no other, and as it so happens, Speed found himself in Manchester on the same day of their clash in the cup with Villa. He went to Old Trafford, having spent the day traipsing around town in search of his idol, but CR7 wasn’t in the squad due to illness.What a shame

Man Utd player ratings: Defence

Martin Dubravka (5/10): Perhaps could’ve been out quicker to narrow down the angle on Watkins, knowing who was in front of him.
Diogo Dalot (7/10): Key in providing both width and a pass into the half space on United’s right flank. Close to opening the scoring after 24 minutes. Caught too high up for 1-0, then popped a lovely floated ball into Fernandes’ path for 1-1 immediately after; that’s the risk you take.

Harry Maguire (4/10): Absolutely burned for pace by Watkins for the opener. Very hard to see a world where Maguire looks good in a United shirt these days when Ten Hag wants them to play so high up the pitch. Out of his depth.

Victor Lindelof (5/10): No calamities, but again not a performance that inspired confidence. United look worryingly vulnerable with their two best central defenders not in the XI.

Tyrell Malacia (6/10): Enjoyed the space afforded to him to attack into with Villa sitting back. Played a few nice passes in behind, but still not quite as solid as his competition in Luke Shaw right now.

Midfield

Scott McTominay (6/10): McTominay was poor – in the first half, anyway. Then, he slowly improved as the game went on and scored at the death. He can thank Garnacho for that.

Fred (4/10): Couldn’t weight a pass for the life of him and really struggled to pick up effective positions or thrive in tightly-packed areas. Ceded possession after another scruffy moment which led to Villa’s opener. Not a performance that would’ve forced him back into Ten Hag’s thinking.

Donny van de Beek (4/10): Still trying to build up match sharpness after a lengthy period on the sidelines, but Van de Beek doesn’t have long. Chances come and go quickly at United, and he isn’t taking his. He’s great at spotting runs, but he has to do much more than that and be able to affect the game more consistently.

Attack

Bruno Fernandes (8/10): His influence on this XI is monstrous. That Fernandes-shaped hole that was so apparent at the weekend closed up here. Not everything he tries comes off, but when you have such a high quality of pass to play at any moment, it’s a serious asset.

Anthony Martial (7/10): A return to the XI, an hour played without injury and a goal. Who is this man and what did they do with the Anthony Martial of the last five years or so? A sharp and clinical breath of fresh air.

Marcus Rashford (7/10): Born offside. Please Marcus, watch your line – you are almost always the fastest player on the pitch. He gets a pass, though, because he was brilliant aside from that. Direct, sharp touches and composed in front of goal.

Subs & Manager

Alejandro Garnacho (8/10): Very composed to fizz the pass into Fernandes first time for 3-2. Followed that up by putting the ball on a plate for McTominay and grabbing another assist. A brilliant cameo – he’s special, this one.

Anthony Elanga (6/10): Stretched play and ran in behind defenders as the game drew on.

Christian Eriksen (7/10): Gave United so much more quality in possession.

Casemiro (N/A): Not enough time to make an impact.

Lisandro Martinez (N/A): Same as above.

Erik ten Hag (7/10): Changed an XI that lost at the weekend, but was likely disappointed with the response he got in the first half. To Ten Hag’s credit, though, his substitutes did the trick. An evening where he will have learnt more about his fringe players; invaluable.

 

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