It’s always easy to criticise, always easy to point out errors and bask in the sense of entitlement that a big club often generates to call personnel out… but sometimes there is a kernel of truth within the criticism – as good a footballer as the object of criticism maybe.
Most of the names on this list have never given up and have always shown great fighting spirit – but in another era of now-forgotten ruthlessness, they wouldn’t be near the Manchester United football team.
5 Daley Blind
Daley Blind was brought to Manchester United by Louis Van Gaal as he sought a trusted lieutenant to establish his own unique Dutch philosophy on United. A superb passer of the ball and a competent reader of the game, Blind, on the face of it was perfect for this – but the mere fact that Ashley Young is being preferred at left-back by the current management (and is doing much better than Blind was in the position, it has to be said) shows that Blind simply doesn’t have the quality to compete at this level of football.
The slowness of foot is also what keeps him from being an effective central midfield player in the (yes, it’s stereotyped, but that’s ‘cos it’s true) fast-paced Premier League.
4 Matteo Darmian
Matteo Darmian is one of the most versatile fullbacks in world football – comfortable on either the right or left of defence but he has never truly lived up to the potential he brought with him from Torino – and the Ashley Young factor again points out his limitations as a top-class full-back.
Not fast enough to trouble opposition fullbacks, with a cross that’s not good enough to for his center-forwards do anything with, Darmian is the kind of average-to-good footballer who have made United their home and have brought down the performance of the team as a whole.
3 Juan Mata
Now, now, calm down.
Nobody is saying that Juan Mata isn’t the nicest guy in world football. Nobody is saying that Juan Mata isn’t one of the loveliest footballers to watch when on song.
He is, though, hopelessly ineffective when things start getting even a bit physical and… as astoundingly blunt as this sounds… lacks the upper-body strength to be able to compete effectively with the increasingly more powerful opposition.
He also requires a whole lot of the ball to be able to make some impact on games – but is simply not good enough to build a team of United’s ambitions around, or to obtain the status of “luxury player” , one with the license to do anything without having the responsibility to hold position or trackback.
As hard as this is to read, and to write may I add, Juan Mata is just not good enough to play the role he seeks for a team that wants to win every competition it competes in.
2 Luke Shaw
Louis van Gaal, Roy Hodgson, and Mauricio Pochettino have all at one point of time in their interactions with Luke Shaw echoed Jose Mourinho’s comments on Shaw’s attitude, professionalism and struggle to maintain fitness.
Forget the fact that he still hasn’t shown what he is capable of (lad has bags of potential, no doubts about that), but for a team that prided themselves on being the fittest (and most professional-in-training) of the lot, Shaw’s attitude should in all reality be inexcusable.
1 Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Henrikh, he has chipped in with a bagful of assists (5 in the PL) already this season – but the correlation between his great performances and the presence of Paul Pogba on the pitch is quite simply eerie.
Without the Frenchman, Mkhitaryan was expected to take the reins and steer United moving forward, but in the past two months the Armenian has looked utterly lackadaisical, a touch lazy, and bereft of the creativity that he was supposed to bring to the ball park.
Oh and the way he shirks challenges can only grate on Jose Mourinho’s nerves.
Simply put, he still hasn’t earned the right to be the creator-in-chief of Manchester United, a mantle previously held by some of the greatest players this game has ever seen.