Seven Manchester United players appeared at Euro 2012, with a further six former Reds also playing at the tournament. Rant looks back on each player’s performance, with the tournament winding up with the Spain – Italy final in Kiev on Sunday:
Wayne Rooney, England
England’s talisman suffered yet another disappointing competition, after injury, poor form or dismissal struck at tournaments in 2004, 2006 and 2010. But after a five-week layoff, with Rooney hamstrung by an English system designed above all to ‘not lose’, how could anybody expect any different? Sitting out matches against France and Sweden, Rooney made a goal-scoring return against co-hosts Ukraine, before a frustrating outing against Italy in the quarter-final. The United striker has taken the brunt of national blame for England’s quarter-final departure, but aged just 26, Rooney has at least three more tournaments at international level. The question is: will he finally star in one of them?
Chances created: 2
Passing: 55/76 (72%)
Ashley Young, England
Young began the tournament as one of England’s brightest hopes, having scored six times in the previous 10 internationals before Euro 2012 kicked off.Yet, much like England’s other attacking players Young suffered for the negative system, turning in a poor set of metrics that included no goals, no assists and just two chances created for his team-mates over four matches. The former Aston Villa man can’t be happy with his overall performance. That more than half of Young’s touches came in his own half tells a story though – of a player deployed far more defensively that he is by United. There is more to come from Young, but he will be disappointed that he did not make his mark of this tournament.
Chances created: 2
Passing: 76/102 (75%)
Danny Welbeck, England
Strong performances from Welbeck under difficult circumstances at Euro 2012 mean that the United youngster will leave Poland and Ukraine with plenty to be pleased about. The 21-year-old was neat and tidy on the ball, whether deployed either as a traditional ‘number 9’ or dropping deep to augment midfield. The Manchester-born striker also scored a superb winning goal against Sweden – flicking home with his heel to seal England’s 3-2 win in Group D. Welbeck has a very bright international future ahead of him, especially if he can add goals to an excellent all-round game.
Chances created: 2
Passing: 82/90 (91%)
Phil Jones, England
The United defender-cum-midfielder was at Euro 2012 ostensibly as Glenn Johnson’s cover at right-back, although the 20-year-old failed to see any action in Poland and Ukraine. Jones may well have benefited from the experience of a major international tournament, although his club manager Sir Alex Ferguson can hardly be pleased that a player who suffered burn out and injuries during the second half of last season didn’t get a longer summer rest. Moreover, given Johnson’s less-than-secure defensive displays during the tournament, Jones may well be disappointed to have not seen more action.
Chances created: –
Patrice Evra, France
Former French captain Evra suffered another disappointing tournament, two years after the drama of South Africa at World Cup 2010. Selected despite some underwhelming club and national team displays over the past year, Evra was unceremoniously dropped by coach Laurent Blanc after France’s draw with England in the opening Group D fixture. It remains a perplexing decision given that Evra performed solidly against the English – this coming after the left-back was criticised for his performances in some of France’s warm-up games. Now aged 31, Evra may consider his international future.
Chances created: 1
Passing: 65/69 (94%)
United’s winger can be pleased with a strong tournament, in which the 25-year-old provided a string of consistent and threatening performances for semi-finalists Portugal. Embroiled in contract talks at Old Trafford, Nani can only have added to his reputation and value this summer. Nani, of course, was over-shadowed by Cristiano Ronaldo, but United player’s numbers add up to a fine tournament overall. Scored in the shoot-out loss to Spain in the semi-final, although will be disappointed with his performance against the World and European champions during the match itself.
Chances created: 13
Passing: 106/142 (75%)
Anders Lindegaard, Denmark
Failed to make any appearances as the Danish exited the tournament at the group stage. After nearly five months off through injury, United’s second-choice ‘keeper was fortunate to make the Danish squad at all.
Chances created: –
Former Reds at Euro 2012
Cristiano Ronaldo – the tournament in which Cristiano banished lingering doubts about his ability to perform at the highest level. Scored three times, hit the post on four occasions during the tournament. However, received criticism for not taking a penalty during the shoot-out loss to Spain
Gerard Piqué – still in the tournament, with Spain having made the final once again. Piqué didn’t have the finest campaign for Barcelona, but looks to be back to his best in the national shirt.
John O’Shea – a leading candidate among some pundits’ ‘worst team of the tournament’ lists. O’Shea, together with the haphazard Irish defence, were embarrassed against Croatia, Spain and Italy.
Darron Gibson – didn’t play for the Irish during a disastrous tournament.
Paul McShane – another former Red who didn’t feature for the Irish in three group matches.
Ron Robert Zieler – didn’t play for Germany as the Germans exited the tournament at the semi-final stage.