Manchester United’s oddity of a season came to a limp end on Saturday, courtesy a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Chelsea in the FA Cup final at Wembley. The game itself was a turgid affair, with both sides looking to nullify each other rather than take risks, and it was settled by the only player on the pitch who did take a chance on the ball. Eden Hazard was superb in winning a penalty off Phil Jones, and supremely calm while stroking the ball into the net for the only goal of the game. United huffed and puffed, and raised their game a bit in the second half, but a combination of a lack of creativity and poor finishing meant that they ended the season trophyless.
Here are the ratings from a disappointing day at Wembley:
GK: David de Gea (7) – Once again the best United player on the day. Could do little about Hazard’s penalty, but made a couple of good saves, and his distribution was precise throughout
RB: Antonio Valencia (5) – Started the game poorly, and while he had a decent match overall, was again lacking in an attacking sense
CB: Chris Smalling (6) – One of his better performances in recent weeks, as he showed far more ambition with the ball than usual and was positionally sound at the back
CB: Phil Jones (5) – Will be the fall guy for this defeat, as his lunge on Hazard conceded the decisive penalty. Had a decent game to be honest, but was let down by that one moment
LB: Ashley Young (6) – Was his usual energetic self on the flank, but failed to get forward with enough regularity
CM: Nemanja Matic (6) – Slightly shaky performance from the Serbian, as he was defensively quite tentative, and his passing lacked its usual zip
CM: Ander Herrera (5) – Was his usual industrious self, but failed to influence the game in either attack or defence
CM: Paul Pogba (4) – Another anonymous showing from the Frenchman on the big stage. His passing was awry for most of the game, and he managed to miss a free header from eight yards out late in the game, which summed up his performance
RW: Jesse Lingard (5) – Was barely noticeable on the pitch. Ran around a lot, but nowhere near influential enough with the ball
LW: Alexis Sanchez (4) – Poor outing from the Chilean, who failed to link up with his fellow attackers, while also contriving to be extremely ineffective with the ball at his feet.
CF: Marcus Rashford (4) – A shocker of a game for Rashford, as he continuously gave the ball away with misplaced passes, and lacked his usual brio when running at his man. United’s tactics did him no favours either; nevertheless, his confidence looks shot to pieces, and one hopes he has a decent World Cup with England
FW: Anthony Martial (N/A) – Brought a lot more directness to the United attack, but his final pass lacked quality
FW: Romelu Lukaku (N/A) – Barely got on the ball enough to be a threat
MF: Juan Mata (N/A) – Tried to get things moving quicker, but ended up spending a lot more time defending than he should have
Man of the Match: David de Gea
There was barely anyone deserving of this at the end of the game; it came down to who had the least worse game, rather than the player who had the best game. De Gea was once again blameless in a United defeat, having done everything he could have to prevent it, and his teammates and manager will need to improve by leaps and bounds next term if they are to challenge at the top once again.