Mason Greenwood shows promise, but Man United end season farcically in Cardiff loss
Manchester United completed a shambolic end to the season with a humiliating 2-0 defeat to relegated Cardiff, the result coming a week after a limp draw at Huddersfield, who will also play Championship football next season.
United end the season 32 points behind champions Manchester City, the furthest off the top they have finished since returning to the top flight in 1975. Their sixth-place finish means they need City to win the FA Cup final against Watford to avoid a Europa League qualifier on July 25, the same day they are scheduled to play Tottenham in a preseason friendly in Shanghai.
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing's double strike made the difference for Cardiff and the day ended with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer being told, "You're getting sacked in the morning," by away fans.
Mason Greenwood's full debut was the only highlight. At 17 years and 223 days, he became the youngest United player to start a Premier League game, fitting reward after a season that has seen him score 30 goals in 29 games for the Under-18s, U-19s and U-23s. With seven shots, he was the hosts' brightest attacker and completed the full 90 minutes.
Mendez-Laing's first-half penalty made it 15 games without a clean sheet, United's worst run since a 16-match streak in 1970. They have stopped the opposition at home just twice in the league all season, which is their worst record since 1962-63.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- With almost nothing to play for, it felt like the United manager was making a point with his team selection by picking a front six of academy products. The starting XI had an average age of 24, a sign perhaps of Solskjaer's plan going forward after Jose Mourinho's tendency to trust older players.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
DF Diogo Dalot, 5 -- Referee Jonathan Moss got it wrong when he decided the 20-year-old had brought down Mendez-Laing for Cardiff's penalty in the first half.
DF Chris Smalling, 5 -- It did not help that United were throwing men forward looking for a goal but he endured a traumatic second half when it looked like Cardiff could score with every attack.
DF Phil Jones, 6 -- Did well to clear Mendez-Laing's free-kick from under the crossbar and tracked Bobby Decordova-Reid to deny the Cardiff forward a good chance. Replaced at half-time.
MF Scott McTominay, 5 -- Asked to play at the base of United's midfield in the first half and then centre-back in the second. He will not want to see Cardiff's second goal, when he was shrugged off the ball, again.
MF Andreas Pereira, 6 -- The Brazilian international started well, fizzing an early effort just wide of the far post and dinking a clever pass over the top to create a chance for Greenwood.
FW Marcus Rashford, 6 -- Created a chance for Greenwood and worried Cardiff throughout without getting anything to show for it.
FW Mason Greenwood, 7 -- Showed up several senior colleagues and came closest to scoring by forcing Etheridge into two good saves. Greenwood did enough to suggest he should be a permanent member of the squad next season.
FW Anthony Martial, 5 -- Replaced Jones but did not do much.
DF Antonio Valencia, NR -- Came on for his last United appearance after a decade at the club.
FW Angel Gomes, NR -- Another youngster given a chance on the final day.