DAVID DE GEA: 8
Looked agile and alert and cannot be faulted for any of the six goals that rocketed past his jumpy, shell-shocked form to nestle in the back of his forlorn, bedraggled, windswept net. Hair stood up to the test, maintaining its stiffness throughout what was an absolute shellacking of the first order. Good communication with his defenders, including the slightly high-pitched "What are you doeeeng?!" after an hour or so and a lively star jump in front of Very Smalling after the 6th (or 5th, there were so many, they merge into each other after a while)
Very very long legs, exceedingly long legs which he stuck out to the best of his ability but could not seem to catch Small and Spanish where he needed to be caught, right in the Brussels sprouts. Forged forward, legged it back, turned around and pop, the ball was in the back of the net again.
rio fortygrand: 6
The man for the big occasion. England's Mr Occasion. An occasion just waiting to happen. Would have got a much higher score but for his below average impression of a quayside bollard. Until he threw that risky impersonation around the 4th minute, he was doing so well alongside the ever-dependable Jonny Evans.
SIXES AND EVANS: 9
|Scene in the Utd penalty area after Balotelli goal|
CAPRICE EVRA: 5
But was he playing? I don't think so. There's a mistake here. Hang on, just check the programme. Yep, he was out there. Five it is then! Very good. Just like the Invisible Man.
NINNY NANI NONNY: 8
Was asked to cause havoc down the wings and carried out his instructions to the letter. On both the left, when he was there and the right, when he switched, there was absolute and utter chaos. Very nice indeed. Made a beautiful egg custard at half time with some of the eggs that the manager had laid. Delicious.
DARREN FLETCHER: 9
Goal of the game from "Fletch", a player who is so much more than just a water-carrier and so much less than a proper effective professional footballer in the crunch of the really big occasion.
Cannot be given a mark as he was put in a small perspex box after 22 minutes of the game and shot off towards the Moon with one of sly, skullduggery-man Balotelli's "Ultra Catherine Wheels" attached to it. Will almost certainly fall back to Earth eventually and, when he does, there will still be plenty of people hanging about ready to laugh at him.
LAURA ASHLEY: 8
Beautiful frocks, just enough frills, just enough embroidery, just enough latticework in the bodice, if you know what I mean. Could have made a nice cushion cover out of some of those crosses. Really quite fetching. When in full flight, it all sort of flew up around his thighs, which was less nice.
WAYNE ROONEY: 10
Tonking. Not put off by the glare from his wife's party make-up, pasted on by a fleet of McAlpine dumper trucks as the match progressed. Kept running, but mainly in the wrong direction to fetch Anderson's passes. Still can't fault his energy, attitude or indeed his lovely full bonce of auburn hair. Reminded me of Ginger Rogers with a Digestive Biscuit Eating Disorder.
DANNY WELBECK: 8
Showed distinct signs that he really is the real deal. Really. Really real deal. Ploughing a lone furrow upfront cannot be easy, but that is what you have to do when you are away to Inter Milan. Oh hang on...
JOE HART: 6
Didn't see him make one good save all game. Will have to up his performances if he wants to one day play for England.
MICHAEL RICHARDS: 6
Forgot all about his defensive duties and pushed way up the pitch like a runaway tractor. No 2nd gear, does everything at an enormous gallop. Felt very sorry for Ninny Nani Nonny, who must have been perplexed by the full back's odd positioning way up the right wing. At one point appeared to be trying to rip his way through entire defence. Absolutely reckless attitude to such a big game.
VICTOR KOMPANY: 6
JOE LESCOTT: 6
Played almost completely spoiling role, which was a shame for a central defender. Relies almost completely on his left foot, with a little bit of right and a tiny bit of head. This meant that he was often seen turning in little tight circles which made it difficult for the impressive Welbeck to get the ball back, which spoilt what was supposed to be an evenly matched fight.
GALE CLICHY: 5
Seems to have lost all of his Arsenal prowess, where he would run away from the ball constantly and let giant inviting spaces open up between himself and any number of dreamy creamy central defenders with names like Cushion, Poem and Pamphlet. Like Richards, he often looked like a winger, which is ridiculous in a tight match where he was expected to defend resolutely. Poor.
JAMES MILNER: 6
GARETH BARRY: 5
Here's another one. Did anybody see him out there? Me neither. Neither here nor there, given the run around by Anderson, until he was mysteriously shipped off in his little skypod to the Moon. Disappointing afternoon counting sheep for Gareth. Also wore terrible trousers to Rooney's birthday party.
YAYA TOURÉ: 5
What does he do exactly? What is his role in the team? Is he a bulky bastion of defence or a bulky invading Viking? Too often he just appears for the big matches and stamps his authority on things without the least permission. He is also far too fast for a big lad. Where was he today, when the little men were threatening to take over? More questions than answers here, I'm afraid, and questions that will have to be answered by someone wiser than me in the weeks to come.
SMALL AND SPANISH: 6
This little man could eventually be a good player, if he would just indulge himself a bit more. We saw from Ninny Nani Nonny how to do interminable stepovers then get clouted into touch, how to do the wibble-wobble then fall over yourself, how to track back without getting your hair wet, but Small and Spanish didn't pick up on any of these little tricks and was the worse for wear as a consequence. No shimmies, no ineffectual waving of the right leg, no poncy poker straight legs before hitting a freekick towards the flagpoles on the roof. All in all, very Spanish and thus deeply disappointing.
MARIO BALOTELLI: 4
He burnt his house down on the eve of the match. What can I say? Should not really have been on the pitch, as his mind was obviously elsewhere. Sixes and Evans clearly affected by the Italian's antics, which were bordering on gamesmanship in my books. At one point was seen to take a small box of matches from his back pocket, making Evans veer away wildly with his arms in the air. This led to the space which led to the other thing going wrong, which ended up in poor distracted United conceding the 4th goal (or was it the sixth, I've lost count)
SERGIO AGUERO: 6
EDIN DZEKO: 5
Another ineffectual display. Came on and missed two gilt-edged sitters with his first two touches. By the time he had warmed up, the game was almost over and he could only get himself the two goals, one of which came off his knee, the other off his foot.
Referee MARK CLOVED FOOT: 5
Extremely poor performance from this usually one-eyed, one-sided, hey-look-at-me ref. Usually so sure in his early pointing, his manly gesticulating and his gentlemanly leaning towards the home side. Today, nothing went right for the Gateshead Grimace, from the rash of wrongly produced cards to missing five crucial offsides for City's goals.