Newcastle United 1-0 Manchester United: Player ratings as Red Devils slump to disappointing defeat

Newcastle United 1-0 Manchester United: Player ratings as Red Devils slump to disappointing defeat

Matt Ritchie's second half strike enough for Rafa Benitez's side to clinch the points

Ryan Fisher

Manchester United slumped to a 1-0 defeat away at Newcastle United, with Matt Ritchie's strike the difference between the sides.

The defeat leaves United 16 points behind Manchester City at the top of the Premier League and a mere four points ahead of third place Tottenham Hotspur.

The defence

David de Gea - 6: United's last line of defence had a quiet afternoon, and was helpless to deny Ritchie's strike from finding the back of the net. The Spaniard did make a good save to deny man of the match Jonjo Shelvey in the early stages. 

Antonio Valencia - 5: United's skipper put in a poor display, with his usual ability to set up attacks seemingly missing from his game. He was caught up the field on counter attacks, yet never created anything that clear-cut at the other end.

Chris Smalling - 3: It was another shambolic performance from Smalling, who seems to get worse on a game-by-game basis. His distribution out from the back is absolutely diabolical, and leads to absolutely nothing positive for his side. He should've been penalised for bringing down Dwight Gayle in the box in extremely clumsy fashion, but he got away with it. He then produced perhaps the most comical piece of diving you'll ever see, leading to the free kick from which the goal was scored. A laughably bad performance.

Phil Jones - 4: Jones was equally guilty of a poor defensive display. His passing out was passive and often sideways, and was frequently caught out by the pace and trickery of Gayle and Ayoze Perez. Quite why Jose Mourinho continues to pair Jones and Smalling together is a mystery. The pair were back-ups to Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand in 2011, and they probably still would be if the legendary pair were still at Old Trafford. The clamour for the return of the injured Eric Bailly and loanees Axel Tuanzebe and Tim Fosu-Mensah is growing.

Ashley Young - 4: Having lost his regular place to Luke Shaw, Young has looked off the pace against Tottenham and again at St James' Park. He was sloppy on the ball and didn't offer his usual threat going forward.

The midfield

Nemanja Matic - 6: The Serbian put in a decent display, in an almost solo midfield effort. He played a wonderful pass through to Anthony Martial, which the Frenchman really should have buried to give United the lead.

Paul Pogba - 3: Pogba was injured in the warm-up, yet bizzarely still took to the field and started the game. He was visibly unfit, and just ambled around the field for the 60 minutes he was on. He offered very little in attack as a result of his injury, and no real intensity off the ball.

The attack

Anthony Martial - 6: Another peculiar decision from Mourinho saw Martial continue on the right, when he's quite obviously better on the left. Despite this, he got himself into dangerous positions and really could've notched up a hat-trick. He was denied  by a very impressive save from debutant Martin Dabruvka from close range. 

Jesse Lingard - 3: Lingard's purple patch throughout December and January has certainly slowed down, and his inclusion centrally into the team now seems to be to the detriment of the players around him, as they are forced out of position to accommodate the England international. A game of poorly weighted passes and no end product led to his substitution in the second half.

Alexis Sanchez: 7: Sanchez was at the hub of everything positive that United did. The intricate play that the Chilean is capable of is unrivalled by any other player at United. Some wonderful skill and build-up play provided Sanchez with a few chances, that he probably should have done better with.













​Positive up top

Romelu Lukaku - 7: It was one of his better games in a United shirt for Lukaku, and just about as good a display as he could've put in without scoring. His hold-up play was exceptional, consistently able to bring his teammates into play. He played some wonderful passes to play in the likes of Sanchez and Martial, and was extremely unlucky not to register at least one assist.