Man Utd have two finished players in squad after Aston Villa defeat
Aston Villa v Man Utd: Pictures
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Just as Manchester United look to be turning a corner under Erik ten Hag, Aston Villa go and batter them. Unai Emery’s side were superior in every department as they claimed all three points courtesy of goals from Leon Bailey, Lucas Digne and Jacob Ramsey. And the match in the Midlands will fuel talk of Cristiano Ronaldo and Donny van de Beek being finished, with neither player good enough on the day.
Manchester United had gone into their game with Villa on a high after recent victories over the likes of Sheriff, West Ham and Real Sociedad.
But the Red Devils were brought crashing back down to earth on a nightmare afternoon at Villa Park.
Bailey and Digne both struck in the first half to put the home side in dreamland, with Luke Shaw then pulling back a consolation after his deflected strike soared into the net.
Yet Ramsey scored shortly after the restart to restore Villa’s two-goal lead and send the home fans into a state of ecstasy.
For United, there were many bad performers on the day.
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Victor Lindelof was one of them, with the Sweden international blown away in the first half and unable to cope with the speed and pace of Ollie Watkins.
Christian Eriksen had a rare day to forget, too, while Marcus Rashford looked lost on the right – a position he’s clearly not comfortable playing in.
But Ronaldo and Van de Beek, whisper it quietly, may just be finished.
Ronaldo was given the captaincy in the absence of Bruno Fernandes and Harry Maguire, less than two weeks after it looked like he’d never play for them again.
And though he huffed and puffed, it became increasingly clear the 37-year-old’s powers aren’t what they used to be.
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It isn’t just Ronaldo’s shooting that has left much to be desired, with the Portugal international fluffing some good opportunities in the first half to score.
He just looks toothless up top. Gone are the days where his speed would cause issues, with the veteran a far more static presence than anyone would have ever imagined.
United are at their best when they have pace in the team.
And it looks as though Ronaldo will struggle to start most games based on this display, especially now Anthony Martial is finally fully fit and available again.
For Van de Beek, it was a horrendous afternoon.
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The United star was given a first league start since May 2021, with the midfielder coming in in place of the suspended Bruno Fernandes.
And it would be no understatement to say Van de Beek took the opportunity and threw it down the drain, with the former Ajax star an anonymous presence as his side slumped to defeat.
Next August will mark three years on from his arrival.
And Van de Beek has done nothing in the slightest during his time at Old Trafford to suggest he can be a hit and a regular for many years to come.
Neither Ronaldo or Van de Beek are good enough for a United team that are desperately hoping to return to the top of world football over the next few years.
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And it would certainly be a surprise if either player keeps their place in the team for the Carabao Cup rematch with Villa in midweek.
For the Red Devils, today certainly serves as a reality check.
There’s been talk of United potentially challenging for the league title but, right now, they’d take merely qualifying for the Champions League instead.
Ten Hag has long stressed there will be bumps in the road as he looks to wave his magic wand and bring the glory days back.
United, it’s clear, are a team in transition and more afternoons like today can be expected between now and the end of the campaign.
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