Europa League Final Summary
It’s honestly taken a while to start writing the ratings for the Europa League Final. This was a hard loss to take. Not just the fact it was a cup final and would win Ole and the team their first trophy since 2017, but because it was due to a missed penalty from a goalkeeper. That’s all. Granted it was a sluggish performance during the 120 and mistakes were made by both the players and staff but at the end, one kick of the ball and one save could have changed the result.
It dampens the spirits on a hugely progressive season that largely overcame the adversities of the start of the season. No pre-season, personal issues with squad members for various reasons, Ole not being fully backed in the summer and 61 matches played in a heavily congested fixture list. The fact United did not manage to have more than two week-gaps during the season demonstrates how difficult this season has been on everyone. And especially the teams such as United and Liverpool who have had a series of injuries and played week-in week-out.
Right now this result will hurt. It will probably still hurt until we are back watching the Reds walk out under the lights of Old Trafford in August. But now there’s nothing we can do but move on and hope the same Board-level mistakes are not made this summer and Ole is fully backed to compete on all fronts. The promise we hoped the board would keep last summer and they, throughout the season, truly failed and faltered even more than we expected.
Europa League Final Player Ratings
David de Gea 4/10
Nothing he could do about the goal. However…the penalties. Realistically about 7 were unsaveable. But four he could have stopped had his technique not prevented him from saving anything but poor efforts. It just didn’t work. The one that truly frustrates me is the Moi Gomez one where he was given notes that Gomez goes down the middle and ignored it. That’s the one that gets me. Looked very nervous when stepping up too.
I love David de Gea and he is a United legend who has saved us countless times and I hope this is not his last game for us. If he can get along with the fact that he will play the cups and occassionally rotate with Henderson when needed, then I hope he stays. If he can’t, I would understand if he wants to leave because Henderson is the future and should be the number 1 at the start of next season. But if so, give him a testamonial in the summer where the United faithful can say farewell properly and not on such a sour note as a missed penalty.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka 7/10
One of the best attackers for United ironically. Drove down the right and put in some great crosses. Diabolical that he was not even considered over Reece James or one of the other defenders in the 33 man squad. Utterly ridiculous.
Victor Lindelof 4/10
So weak and sloppy for the goal and was bullied all game. What’s more is his passing was so lateral. It showed just what we were missing with Maguire out and no one else available. I do think Lindelof is a United-quality player, but not as the lead centre back. At least not yet. He could prove as excellent depth for next season but Pau Torres looked like his older brother literally and figuratively in the Final. Passed with purpose, barely missed a header and a goal saving block. He looks much better and so would Varane. They have to be the bench mark and that competition would only improve Lindelof.
Eric Bailly 5/10
Equally poor in his distribution. I was surprised by his inclusion as he didn’t look too great against Wolves in comparison to Tuanzebe but didn’t really do much wrong defensively.
Luke Shaw 5/10
Deliveries weren’t on the money. Had one half-chance. Defended well.
Scott McTominay 8.5/10
Best player on the pitch undoubtedly. Brilliant performance that deserved a win. He turns up in the big games.
Paul Pogba 4/10
Gave the ball away trying to create but there was little movement ahead of him. I think there were parts of the game he could have moved further up and played a more advanced role. Perhaps he was told to dictate, perhaps the lack of a progressive centre back prevented him from doing so, who knows!
Marcus Rashford 3/10
Some great passing to Shaw but he looked injured. I was half surprised to see him start based on the way he played. And offside or not, that was a horrible miss. Never deserved the abuse he got of course. He was one of our best players this season and got us crucial goals/assists at crucial moments and all with injuries he’s had for over a year. A warrior, a saviour and a brilliant footballer. Just clearly struggling for fitness and feels he will let the team down if he doesn’t play.
Bruno Fernandes 2/10
Didn’t get a sniff. Not much that was his fault mind you, he had at least two players on him at any point. Maybe he should have drifted wide more and made more runs but credit to the Villarreal midfield. They did a job on Bruno.
Mason Greenwood 5/10
He was constantly making runs but rarely picked out by the defenders or midfield. Great crosses and some good linkup with Wan-Bissaka. Deserves his call-up.
Edinson Cavani 6.5/10
Predatory goal. Unlucky with a couple more but was isolated for a lot of the game. So glad he is staying for another year.
One thing I would say for the shootout is I’m glad none of them missed because the lot of them would have been slated and probably racially abused. Especially Fred, James, Axel or Lindelof. No one deserves that kind of abuse.
High energy that was desperately needed. Took his penalty well.
Axel Tuanzebe 6/10
Again didn’t put a foot wrong.
Daniel James 6/10
Juan Mata 6/10
Rifled penalty into the corner. I hope he stays for one more year and becomes a coach. He has so much knowledge to offer the youngsters. Especially the likes of Mejbri, Shoretire and Amad who need a bit of nous with their movement and passing. Still plenty to offer off the pitch.
Alex Telles 6/10
Took his penalty well. Hopefully his first year will help adapt to England and he comes better next season. Has a lot of quality to offer as a squad player and will keep intense competition with Shaw for a few years.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 5/10
He got some things wrong in the Europa League Final but did not deserve half the criticism he got from fans, the media and pundits. He put out arguably United’s strongest available team and had very little off the bench that could have affected the game. Realistically at the end of normal time, I would have liked to see James, Fred, Donny and Mata come on for Rashford, Greenwood, Cavani and McTominay who were all shattered. But how can you take game winners and the MOTM off at the start of extra time in a cup final? It was such a hard choice and unfortunately it didn’t pay off.
I reject any claims that Ole is a bad manager and just because Zidane, Pirlo, probably Poch and Koeman will leave doesn’t mean United needs to follow suit. We are a transfer window behind on the rebuild because Ole wasn’t backed in the summer and a lack of pre-season and still progressed from the previous season. Give him the ingredients and let him cook. Sancho, a DM, a centre back, maybe a striker and a right back at a push but the first three undeniably. At the end of next season there will be an inquest if there is no further progress on this season. However, I don’t think that will be the case. We are undeniably on an upwards trajectory with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. I think with proper backing and an actual pre-season, we will improve even further on this season and have some silverware to show for it.