Manchester United fans were divided in their assessment of Guillermo Varela after his display in the 1-1 draw against Liverpool in the Europa League on Thursday.
The Uruguayan, after a resilient performance at the weekend against West Ham, kept his place in the side despite the availability of Matteo Darmian and Antonio Valencia ahead of the seismic clash with Liverpool.
He was unable to maintain the lofty standards he set on Sunday, however, and was promptly hooked at half-time by Louis van Gaal. Some Man United fans were dismayed by the 23-year-old’s performance:
Varela, absolutely woeful. Called it 10 minutes in. He's an atrocious defender. Get him off at half time, Valencia or Darmian on… #mufc
— Ben Pearce (@benpearcetalks) March 17, 2016
Varela was #mufc's best player on Sunday but he's been their worst tonight. A liability from the start.
— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) March 17, 2016
Watched 5 or 6 times Varela out of position right hand side. Cracking attacker in his day but defending tonight has been a joke. #mufc
— Serge Adam (@SergeMUFC) March 17, 2016
Others, however, were more sympathetic towards Varela:
Varela is at fault for the goal, sure. But let's not make him scapegoat for the spineless 2-0 loss preceded it and put #MUFC in real trouble
— Andy Vale (@AndyVale) March 17, 2016
Bad management taking Varela off. Had played well, caught too high for the goal, and now his confidence will be ruined #MUFC
— Alexandra Stratton (@AlexLever) March 17, 2016
Varela inexperienced shows in his defending of the goal. As a RB you gonna have those moments. He'll learn #MUFC
— 💈✂️ ShaQ 🇯🇲🏴 (@oehairdesign) March 17, 2016
Frustration towards Varela is understandable. After all, United had taken the lead and were in the ascendancy before his defensive fragility allowed Philippe Coutinho to kill off the tie.
And yet, to place all the blame on Varela is unjust. We ought to remember that he is young, inexperienced and susceptible to the occasional off day. He hardly covered himself in glory for Liverpool’s goal, but questions must also be asked of Chris Smalling and David De Gea, alongside a wider inquest regarding United’s shambolic first leg performance which essentially decided the tie.