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25th Apr 2019

Fred awarded 7/10 in bizarre ratings of Manchester United’s performance against Manchester City

Kyle Picknell

Last night we saw ‘the good Pogba’ and a ‘classy and composed’ Fred, according to The Guardian

Player ratings are an art form. They’re easy to do but extremely difficult to master and if, like me, you believe French doom-mongers L’Equipe to have it absolutely spot on, dishing out 1s and 2s like the old Xavi-Iniesta-Busquets Barcelona midfield, then you will be similarly appalled by the numbers the Guardian player ratings were peddling after last night’s Manchester derby.

For anyone that watched the game it was clear that other than for the first 30 minutes or so, during which they managed to hassle Manchester City into unusually clunky passages of play, United were far inferior to Pep Guardiola’s side, who won fairly comfortably. This is the Manchester Derby at Old Trafford, remember. It’s not supposed to be like that. As Gary Neville put it in his post-match analysis: “I think that’s as good as United have got. That’s that team. What we saw there tonight between Manchester United and Manchester City was the gulf in class between the two teams.”

The Guardian, or at least Jamie Jackson, saw it differently and opted to give only one Manchester City player – the ethereal Bernardo Silva – a higher player rating than the likes of Fred, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford.

Fred, in particular, turned in a horror show of a performance, gifting the City midfield the ball with such regularity it is now unclear whether he actually possesses trichromatic vision. He got a 7.

Paul Pogba, whose most notable action during the game was to lose a headed duel with the notoriously fearsome aerial threat Raheem Sterling, got a 7 as well.

Yeah, let’s rip these apart, shall we? Let’s do just that. Find the Guardian’s player rating and justification in bold, with my translation of what they actually mean underneath.

Manchester United

David de Gea – His most dire display for United? The Spaniard was culpable for both of the City goals. 2/10

One of the few players I could rate at least semi-accurately as I didn’t need to pay attention to him other than the replays for the goals.

Ashley Young – Responded to recent criticism with a compact display in a solid rearguard (De Gea apart). 5

Solid rearguard, as in only conceding two goals with a defence containing Ashley Young, Chris Smalling and Matteo Darmian is something of an achievement.

Matteo Darmian – First league start under Solskjær and he was accomplished enough to vindicate selection. 6

Unlike Phil Jones, managed to complete 90 minutes without ploughing head-first into the turf or pulling a face you only see on those roller coaster pictures snapped halfway down a 100-foot vertical drop. That’s good enough for us.

Chris Smalling – Had a near-nightmare moment, nearly deflecting a shot into his own goal – but De Gea saved. 6

Pretty much: “Had a shocker but was bailed out by the player we gave a 2 rating to so, I don’t know, a 6? Yeah. A 6 will do. That somehow makes sense.”

Victor Lindelöf – Was rarely troubled by City’s attackers in what was a smooth display from United’s best centre‑back. 7

The only competent United defender. So give him an extra point, I guess.

Luke Shaw – Pace was a threat on his return from a three‑game ban but he faded after the break. Booked. 6

Gave Bernardo Silva the freedom of the city for the opening goal but we’ll say something vague about his ‘pace being a threat’ before he ‘faded’ and choose to mention an irrelevant three-game ban instead. *man shrugging emoji*.

INTERLUDE: Please tell me, Player Ratings @ The Guardian, please tell me that you haven’t just given the three centre backs in the above image a 6, a 6 and a 7 respectively? Please tell me that isn’t the case.  Please tell me I am somehow mistaken and that is not, in fact, what have you done.

Paul Pogba – Would he bring his A-game? This was the good Pogba who always looked to be positive. 7

Yeah, sorry. Time to come clean guys. I was watching Location, Location, Location instead. Had a 50/50 chance, didn’t I? Phil Spencer was on form anyway, helping Tom and Sue find an absolutely gorgeous new home in Suffolk.

Fred – Composed and classy, and did all of the running expected of a holding midfielder. 7

This is my first football match. What’s going on? What are the rules? Who are the blue team? City? As in… Coventry City? Number 17 doesn’t even have to look when he kicks it! Wow! He just boots it anywhere! Apparently just so he can run and try and get it back over and over! He must be good. A comfortable 7. A 7 if I’ve ever seen one.

Andreas Pereira – Was cultured in arguably his best display in United colours – unlucky to be replaced. Booked. 7

Cultured, as in I don’t know how to describe him as a player. I have no idea. Was he actually unlucky to be replaced even though he offers little attacking threat (despite being a ‘cultured’ player apparently!) and United were 2-0 down at the time? Who knows! Not me, that’s for sure.

Marcus Rashford – Troubled Kompany and Laporte at times but will be frustrated at not capitalising on his ascendancy. 7

Marcus Rashford could shit in my bed and I’d still come home, give him a clap, a pat on the head and rate it seven out of ten.

Jesse Lingard – Harried and hassled defenders but missed two golden chances to score, the second an open goal. 5

Think… think I’ve actually got this one about right. A weird, weird feeling. Oh well, time for the City team. I’ll be sure to mix it up again.

Manchester United team total 65/110

Manchester City

Ederson – Passing not always precise but made one superb interception from Lingard’s ball to deny Rashford. 7/10

Was excellent at being a goalkeeper but not up to my admittedly lofty standards for passing a football demonstrated by my rating of Fred who, in comparison, kept finding the Manchester City players with unerring precision.

Kyle Walker – Hit one pass straight out, was shaky and failed to join the attack enough to aid his team. 4

I’m literally describing Fred here.

Vincent Kompany – Booked inside 10 minutes in what was a torrid evening in 18th league outing in a derby. Booked. 5

A full point worse than Chris Smalling I reckon, who conceded two goals and should have conceded another after getting turned inside out by Raheem Sterling in his own box, as well as almost putting one in his own net himself. Sounds about right.

Aymeric Laporte – Like Kompany, he could not handle Rashford early on in one of his poorer displays this term. 5

“I am quite clearly a Manchester United fan.”

Oleksandr Zinchenko – Struggled with the pace and when booked put himself under pressure. Booked. 5

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Fernandinho – Was the pick of City’s midfielders until he had to limp off early in second half after tackle on Pogba. 7

I have called him the pick of the City midfielders but still decided to give them all the same rating.

David Silva – Could have been sent off for a boot in Pereira’s chest but was also a telling influence. 7

David Silva here, just about as good as Fred.

Ilkay Gündogan – Was initially unable to control the midfield for City but became more of a factor as the game went on. 7

Words words words words words meaningless words that don’t actually tell you anything just vague empty words words words.

Bernardo Silva – Like his team, got better as the contest progressed and scored a fine goal to break the deadlock. 8


Sergio Agüero – Given little service up front but was still sharp and difficult for the home team to contain. 7

Won’t mention him hitting the post. Will instead opt for ‘sharp’ and ‘difficult to contain’ as though I am describing the pain I felt watching my team lose and the bias in my player ratings instead.

Raheem Sterling – Should have scored opener as the interval neared but was instrumental in City’s second strike. 7

Ripped United apart for the second goal and manipulated Fred like he was sewing up his daughter’s school trousers. Which he probably does because he is a lovely man. Outjumped 6 foot 4 Paul Pogba for a towering header despite a 9-inch height difference. The same rating as both of them it is! I’m getting good at this.

Manchester City Team Total – 69/110 (Nice)