Manchester United succumbed to a 2-1 loss at Fenerbahce a couple of weeks after dispatching them at Old Trafford, and although some will remark that this was merely a Europa League match, there were several worrying elements. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney were paired in attack after Paul Pogba’s withdrawal due to injury, and the team lost a great deal of dynamism as a result. The home side dealt comfortably with United’s increasingly ponderous attacks, and could even have had a third. A very disappointing result, and performance to boot.
Anthony Martial looked smart and purposeful throughout, and Pogba helped to dictate the game’s tempo until he was withdrawn.
A glaring lack of pace through the middle once Pogba was withdrawn, and a curious absence of intensity for much of the second half. United’s urgency seemed to evaporate at the half.
Manager rating out of 10
4 — Jose Mourinho had a tactical night to forget. His side played reasonably well at the outset despite going a goal down, but his decision to put Ibrahimovic alongside Rooney instead of bringing on Juan Mata or Henrikh Mkhitaryan arguably cost United the game, the team losing a great deal of drive from that point onward.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK David De Gea, 6 — Was beaten by two superb strikes. Could possibly have been quicker off his line when coming to confront attackers, but made a good stop low to his left in the second half.
DF Matteo Darmian, 5 — Got forward well on occasion but was lacking in creativity, and in a team that was not so quick through the middle United needed more from him.
DF Marcos Rojo, 5 — Blameless for both goals, though was exposed on the counter-attack on one occasion in the second half.
DF Daley Blind, 5 — Failed to produce the incisiveness of passing that has been his hallmark in United’s best games.
DF Luke Shaw, 5 — A difficult night for him. Failed, like Darmian, to make the attacks needed from him, notably overlapping with Martial, and was up against swift, creative opponents.
MF Ander Herrera, 6 — Was booked, perhaps harshly, for a first-half challenge.
MF Morgan Schneiderlin, 6 — Looked solid enough in the early stages until he was bewildered into making a tackle that almost resulted in a penalty. He was withdrawn at half-time and United lost much of their balance in midfield as a result.
MF Paul Pogba, 7 — A frustrating night for him as he passed well through the lines and pushed United forward until he had to depart with an ankle injury. His removal and the tactical changes that followed it changed the match.
FW Marcus Rashford, 6 — Was not as penetrative with his attacks as he usually is, struggling to get beyond a resolute defence. Taken off after an hour.
FW Anthony Martial, 7 — By some distance United’s best player. Floated past his man almost each time he was in possession, and looked oddly stranded whenever out wide. Cut inside with genuine menace, but seemed poorly deployed by Mourinho.
FW Wayne Rooney, 6 — Had an odd game. Scored a spectacular goal in the closing minutes, but much earlier had wasted a clear chance at only 1-0 down with a terrible first touch from a sublime Martial pass. Often dropped too deep to collect the ball when he should have been closer to goal.
MF Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 5 — Made some clever short passes after replacing Pogba but was overly aggressive from the start — he could have been booked or worse for putting his hands on a player’s throat — and his presence slowed the attack. Also committed needless foul when tracking back.
MF Juan Mata, 6 — His introduction in place of Schneiderlin was a bold step by Mourinho but it backfired as he was either too deep to cause damage or found himself occupying the same spaces as Rooney or Ibrahimovic.
MF Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 6 — Brought on for Rashford when United were 2-0 down, and was perhaps too anxious to make an impact, judging by one or two concessions of the ball. United’s attack looked far slicker when he moved into the final third, though. This was another frustratingly brief outing from him.
Musa Okwonga is one of ESPN FC’s Manchester United bloggers. Follow on Twitter: @Okwonga.