Considering Man United’s rampant start to the season and the way the team has swept aside its rivals in the early fixtures, it is something of a challenge to pick out any players who are clearly underperforming. In the first few games the Red Devils attacked with reckless abandon, scoring goals for fun as the notched up 21 strikes in their first 5 matches. Notable during this period however, was the ease with which the opposition was able to create decent scoring opportunities for themselves.
This lack of attention to defending was seemingly overlooked as the Man United strike force was in fine form and sweeping all before them. Soon though, the champions entered a set of fixtures which saw them struggle to score and fail to win in three consecutive matches. Man United drew away to Stoke, away to Liverpool and were decimated 1-6 at home by eternal rivals Manchester City. It was that loss which saw Sir Alex Fergusion refocus his team’s attention to defending, after which Man United were able to grind out two 1-0 victories away to Everton and at home to Sunderland.
The consistently poor defending this season is due in part to the constant reshuffling that Sir Alex Ferguson is forced to do as a consequence of injuries, loss of form and tiredness. There is also the issue of the young Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea who needed time to settle into his new life at Old Trafford. While de Gea had his critics early on, it was another youngster who, though he performed admirably for most matches, always seemed prone to the odd mistake.
Jonny Evans has had a mixed season so far. His reading of the game, his distribution and his ability to quickly change defense into attack have been eye catching. However he still lacks the defensive solidity and reliability of the classic Man United center backs. It was Jonny Evans who conceded a penalty at home to Arsenal this season, Jonny Evans who was caught napping as Fernando Torres scored a consolation for Chelsea at Old Trafford and Jonny Evans who was ruthlessly discarded as Balotelli scored the first of his two goals, before Evans was sent off as the last man in the Manchester massacre. The lad has a strong personality however, and with time and a few more pounds, he will improve.