The Red Devils couldn’t pick themselves up from weekend’s Derby defeat as they failed to respond against the Eredivisie side in their first group game of the 2nd tier continental competition for the new season.
The competition has never really excited United and it was obvious in the team selection. Jose had left Rooney and some other members of the first team in England as he chose to hand opportunities to those in dire need of them.
None was able to really justify the chance as a late goal from the Dutch club saw the Portuguese lose his ever game in the Europa League.
Rashford, Smalling, Rojo and Darmian were making their first starts under the new coach but couldn’t prove their worth enough eventually.
The England youth international was particularly starved of any supplies upfront as Martial, Mata and Pogba all struggled to connect with him.
The French winger wasn’t able to replicate his brilliant form while Mata’s defensive inabilities were highlighted once again. Pogba continued to do a little more of everything, and it didn’t yield anything worthwhile as usual.
The home team displayed why they currently top the league in Netherlands as they enjoyed much of the possession and played with more precision than United.
Even a 36-year-old Dirk Kuyt was able to lead his side to victory by showing a great deal of tirelessness when needed.
The former Liverpool man was everywhere on the pitch and did bring his vast experience to the fore.
The first period of the game went without any shots on target for both sides, as Martial blasted the best chance from United narrowly wide.
A lack of passion from the visitors couldn’t help as the hosts were regularly closing down on them, committing a lot of fouls (17+ but only one worth a yellow) in the process.
With some 30 minutes to go, Manchester United made a triple sub as Ibrahimovic, Young and Depay all came on for Rashford, Mata and Martial respectively.
The rhythm of the game changed with their introductions but it wasn’t enough as a well placed strike from Vilhena with 10 minutes to play was enough to inflict defeat on the visitors.
Depay wasn’t able to make any claims with his dull performance as far as aiming to get Premier League minutes go. The Netherlands international had been tipped by many to make way in the off-season following Jose’s arrival, but the tactician kept faith in him.
A lack of match fitness was obviously a huge factor that played down any impact he might have had off the bench. And that also told on the likes of Schneiderlin, Rojo and Darmian.
The heavy change in lineup sure didn’t yield the much needed result the coach would have hoped for, but there is still a lot of time for improvement as there are still 5 more group games to play in the competition.
The fringe players will have to do more if they are ever to succeed in their aim of convincing Mourinho of their qualities. For now, they have failed at it.