Big problems for Jose Mourinho as Manchester United falter again
A dispiriting Manchester United loss at Stamford Bridge is nothing new -- they've won once in the league there in 15 years -- yet Sunday's 1-0 reverse was, in its own way, just as worrying.
Having spent tens of millions in the summer, United still had no way to provide Chelsea with a consistent threat and worse still, their passing was as inaccurate and lacklustre as it has been in recent matches.
Jose Mourinho has multiple problems to solve, and fast.
David De Gea was, at times, the only meaningful form of resistance. With a goalkeeper of lesser talents, this could have been a rout.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan continued his woeful form of recent weeks, while United's central defenders too often left Chelsea's attackers unsupervised in dangerous areas. The full-backs were too predictable and Ander Herrera failed to pass his way out of trouble.
Manager rating out of 10
3 -- Mourinho looked painfully short of ideas. United began the game in expansive fashion, but when Chelsea took it to them they quickly looked agitated and when they fell behind, they looked utterly devoid of creativity or organisation.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK David De Gea, 8 -- One of the few to escape with credit from this performance. Blameless for Alvaro Morata's goal and made some sharp stops, with the ball swerving late through crowd of players.
DF Antonio Valencia, 5 -- His passing was far worse than usual and his movement was predictable and unambitious. This was a game where United particularly needed him to drive beyond his man into the final third. He failed to.
DF Chris Smalling, 5 -- Lacked positional soundness and precision in his passing. Lost Morata twice in his area, once with a miskick, and once with a failure to track his run. The second time, he was fatally punished.
DF Eric Bailly, 5 -- A mixed bag. He relied on both robustness and guile, and acquitted himself well against Eden Hazard, not allowing himself to be beaten by the Belgian's speed or skill. But then was nowhere to be found when Morata rose for the winner.
DF Phil Jones, 5 -- Morata gave him a hard time, fouling him so that he scored one of the more spectacular -- and disallowed -- own goals in recent memory, and that set the tone for his afternoon. Was mostly solid but failed to play the ball out effectively from the back.
DF Ashley Young, 6 -- One of United's better defenders. He tends to keep a slightly higher level when most of his teammates are below par but like Valencia, he struggled to get beyond his man to the byline, and his crossing rarely found its mark.
MF Nemanja Matic, 6 -- Failed to dictate the tempo as he does at his best, though was probably the pick of United's midfielders. Passing was reasonable but he was left with a greater creative burden than he should have been.
MF Ander Herrera, 5 -- Typically combative but generated little light for all the heat he put into this match. His booking for a foul on Hazard showed the cynicism and defensiveness to which United's overall performance would sink, and he was again unable to pass the ball effectively into the final third.
MF Henrik Mkhitaryan, 3 -- The leading assist provider in the Bundesliga two years ago looked utterly lost again. He was unable to find space, orchestrate the play or retain possession. He is the ultimate confidence player, and for whatever reason he is sadly without it.
FW Marcus Rashford, 6 -- One of United's brightest players again, with a free kick almost giving them an undeserved equaliser, but he could not ultimately escape the lethargy of his teammates. His best ideas did not come off, on a rarely underwhelming night.
FW Romelu Lukaku, 6 -- Will attract great criticism but was wholly without service, having to drop deep to gain possession and receiving no touches in the Chelsea penalty area. Worked hard but was failed by tactics.
MF Marouane Fellaini, 6 -- An abrasive and energetic presence, who almost fashioned an equaliser late on. Not the prettiest intervention but far more incisive than the man he replaced in Mkhitaryan.
MF Anthony Martial, 6 -- Did not get into the flow of the game as well as should have been expected, with Chelsea mostly keeping him in check.
MF Jesse Lingard, N/R -- Battled gamely but to little effect against a Chelsea team who by then were rampant and seeking a second.
Musa Okwonga is one of ESPN FC's Manchester United bloggers. Follow on Twitter: @Okwonga.