Blog, Blog Post, Clubs, David de Gea, Manchester United, Marcus Rashford, Marouane Fellaini, UEFA Champions League
FC’s Stevie Nicol says the Man United board cannot keep allowing Jose Mourinho’s excuses, with his latest being the players aren’t listening to him.

MANCHESTER, England — Manchester United were made to sweat against Young Boys but a 1-0 win at Old Trafford means they are through to the knockout rounds of the Champions League. It was far from comfortable and they had to wait until Marouane Fellaini’s goal in stoppage time to be sure of a place in the last-16. It was not pretty but things rarely are for Jose Mourinho’s team this season.

Positives

United kept going. Again. Having been accused of lacking heart by Mourinho after the goalless draw with Crystal Palace on Saturday, they showed they’re not prepared to throw in the towel just yet. It has been a feature of this season and it cannot be a coincidence when it happens again. Add this late winner to those against Juventus, Bournemouth and Newcastle.

Negatives

Mourinho said he wanted his team to kill off Young Boys early on but, like so many times this season, it didn’t happen. They have only managed four goals in 10 first halves at Old Trafford this season. Just two have those have come from open play. It was another game that should have been comfortable but they found a way to make it hard work.

Manager rating out of 10

5 – The United manager made a point with his team by dropping Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku to the bench and leaving out Alexis Sanchez entirely. It didn’t have the desired effect and whatever was missing against Palace was again missing here. Mourinho was, at least, brave with his substitutions but it was his go-to Plan B who saved the day.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK David De Gea, 7 — The Spaniard had nothing to do before making an incredible save at the base of his post to keep the score at 0-0 midway through the second half.

DF Antonio Valencia, 6 — Back in the team for the first time in two months. He wasn’t troubled defensively but didn’t get forward enough from right-back.

DF Luke Shaw, 6 — Returning from suspension he was one of United’s better players. At least showed the desire to get up and down the left flank.

DF Phil Jones, 7 — Starting for the first time since missing the decisive penalty against Derby, Jones was back flying into challenges as usual. Did well to get across and cover the space behind Shaw.

DF Chris Smalling, 6 — Paired with Jones for the first time since the FA Cup final and didn’t do that much wrong. He was asked to win the physical battles and did so.

MF Nemanja Matic, 6 — Survived Mourinho’s axe unlike Pogba and Lukaku. He was booked early on and got dragged around a lot more than he would have liked. Still looks off the pace.

MF Marouane Fellaini, 7 — The Belgian was involved in some of United’s best moves in the first half. Should have scored after the break but lashed his shot over the bar with the goal gaping but made up for it later in injury time.

MF Fred, 6 — Hasn’t been seen since his disaster at Bournemouth but the Brazilian was positive in midfield. Replaced by Pogba with United desperate for a goal.

As he seems to do quite often, Marouane Fellaini again came up with a crucial intervention for his manager Jose Mourinho
As he seems to do quite often, Marouane Fellaini again came up with a crucial intervention for his manager Jose Mourinho

FW Jesse Lingard, 6 — Worked hard and was diligent in his chasing but didn’t make the most of some of the good positions he found himself in. Gave the ball away too much.

FW Anthony Martial, 6 — Couldn’t be accused of lacking fight but had his work cut against Young Boys right-back Kevin Mbabu. Looked dangerous when he was on the ball but nothing came off.

FW Marcus Rashford, 5 — Should have scored inside five minutes when he went clean through. He will not have convinced Mourinho he deserves a long run at centre-forward.

Substitutes

FW Romelu Lukaku, 6 (for Lingard, 64) — Saw a header go wide. His glancing header led to Fellaini’s winner.

MF Paul Pogba, 6 (for Fred, 64) — Had a couple of nice touches and crosses but didn’t make a decisive difference.

MF Juan Mata, N/R (for Valencia, 72) — Came on too late for a mark.

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