Despite the loss, United’s defenders contained Chelsea relatively well and the visitors controlled much of the match. Shaw and McNair were necessary inclusions given an increasing injury list at United, while Rooney himself had to revert to a deeper midfield role which he played at points earlier this season.
It was a line up not unfamiliar to supporters given the injury crisis that followed Louis van Gaal throughout 2014 and given the overall performance, many will believe the result would have been difference without the absence of four key defensive players.
Shaw was excellent down the left and McNair didn’t lack confidence going forward which drew praise from their captain after the match.
“I thought they were excellent,” Rooney told MUTV after the full-time whistle.
“Obviously Paddy coming up against a good physical player in Drogba and he he handled him really well.
“Luke had been out but we know what a good talent he is. He came back today and gave a very good performance as well.
“I think the two lads will take a lot of confidence from that.”
Shaw has given his boss a headache now given the form of Daley Blind before he picked up an injury in last week’s derby match, whilst McNair will hope his performance has put him back in the frame for a regular spot in the squad.
United will hope to have Blind, Jones, Rojo and Carrick back next week for the trip to Everton, but McNair and Shaw proved able deputies against the would-be champions.