Manchester United remain stuck in a rut after a stuttering goalless draw with Valencia that extends their winless run and keeps the pressure on Jose Mourinho.
Background shenanigans, disjointed displays and poor results have put Old Trafford in the eye of a storm, but Tuesday’s Champions League tie offered the chance to divert some of the mounting focus.
Yet United’s worst start to a league campaign in 29 years would be compounded by a disappointing 0-0 draw against a Valencia side with just one LaLiga win to their name this season, leading Mourinho’s men to be booed at the final whistle.
David Beckham and Gary Neville were among a number of United greats in the stands on a night that had started with their former team-mate Paul Scholes castigating “embarrassing” manager Mourinho.
When things belatedly got under way, Mourinho’s side struggled to stamp their authority on their first Champions League home match since Sevilla inflicted a shock defeat in March.
Valencia attempted to replicate their countrymen’s heroics at Old Trafford, where the home faithful began chants of “attack, attack, attack” early in the second half and would then cheer the substitution of Alexis Sanchez.
Valencia goalkeeper Neto denied Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku as United pushed late on, with Marcus Rashford hitting the bar as the players showed the hunger Mourinho called for.
But that promise soon faded. David De Gea held onto a fizzing Goncalo Guedes strike as Valencia grew into proceedings with sharp, quick passing.
United held firm and reduced the Spanish side to hopeful attempts but were creating little themselves.
Rashford was United’s best player in a frustrating first half. The 20-year-old hit a low shot wide after bursting between bodies and challenges in the 15th minute, then had an attempt from distance and saw a header blocked.
Guedes appeared the visitors’ biggest threat yet was still being allowed space, bending just wide of De Gea’s goal four minutes into the second half.
“Attack, attack, attack” was soon the demand from pockets of agitated United fans, with Pogba and Rashford seeing efforts blocked in their attempt to answer those calls.
Manager Mourinho’s men were playing with renewed intensity and Pogba saw a free-kick tipped over by Neto. However, the midfielder’s next notable moment would be a slip that allowed Cristiano Piccini to get in a cross that Michy Batshuayi rifled over.
Guedes was close to meeting a pass and racing through on United’s goal as Valencia continued to threaten, but Lukaku was also now proving a nuisance.
The Belgian striker raced onto a pass, cut inside and forced a save out of Neto, who blocked an attempt from the same player at the near post minutes later.
There were a few cheers when out-of-sorts Sanchez was replaced by Anthony Martial, but the visitors continued to knock on the door as the Stretford End’s calls for United to attack increased.
Rashford clipped the crossbar with a free-kick and Lukaku headed over from a corner, with Marouane Fellaini also trying his luck before the match ended with jeers from the home fans.