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A few thoughts: Everton away

Firstly, the main reason for United’s defeat tonight was the failure to deal all night long with Everton’s Belgian international, Marouane Fellaini. For me, the failure lies at the hands of the coaching staff. It was Fellaini who was the tormentor in-chief of United in the 4-4 draw at Old Trafford that ultimately cost United the league and so you would have thought that United would have had a plan of how best to deal with him. It certainly didn’t look like it! Granted, the absence of four centre-backs through injury didn’t help but it was painful to watch at times the way he was persistently given time and space, left unchallenged to bring the ball down or allowed to turn and release the ball. United were duly punished for their failure to deal with the Belgian when he scored the winner. One thing that astonished and infuriated me was that it was Michael Carrick who was the man marking Fellaini when the Belgian scored. Surely it’s a basic rule of defending that you put your best header of a ball – Vidic – on their biggest threat at set-pieces.

Secondly, the problems in central midfield were all too obvious. The lack of a physical specimen in there again continues to cost us, especially away from home where there is a distinct feeling that teams think they can bully us and understandably so. Could you imagine Yaya Toure, for example, allowing Fellaini to have such an impression on the game? It’s all well and good having a fantastic array of attacking talent but unless you can dominate midfield and take the game by the scruff of the neck then in the bigger games against the better teams United will come unstuck. That being said, the return of Michael Carrick to central midfield will make a big difference once another central defender regains fitness.

Related to the problems in central midfield, I’ve found the buzz around Tom Cleverley the last couple of weeks bemusing and his performance tonight only crystallised my views on him. For me, he’s a tidy player but nothing more. I look at him and think what does he really offer to United? He doesn’t have searing pace, exquisite skill or a great shot – it was Cleverley who passed up a gilt-edged opportunity to equalise – struggles to beat a man and doesn’t drive at defences and commit opposition players. He also has an infuriating tendency to play safe, passing sideways too often and looking for others to take the creative burden. To me, it says it all that I found Anderson’s brief cameo far more encouraging than Cleverley’s 85 minute performance. I hope he proves me wrong but I don’t see Cleverley as ever developing into a player good enough to really influence big games.

It wasn’t just Cleverley who had a disappointing evening however. With the exception of Kagawa, De Gea and Vidic, no-one in United’s team could hold their head high. Rooney – who was extremely fortunate not to be hauled off before the game was up – and Nani, in particular, looked off the pace and were the worst of the lot; a lot of promising interplay broke down at Rooney’s feet and he was constantly dispossessed whilst Nani’s crossing and decision making was dreadful. The mitigating factors are of course that many of the United players had limited game-time in pre-season following their involvement in Euro 2012. The lack of action definitely told with the majority of the team lacking the requisite sharpness needed against a determined Everton team who hadn’t suffered the same problem.

The biggest positive of the game for United was the encouraging performance of Shinji Kagawa, the man signed from Borussia Dortmund this summer. Displaying a desire to get on the ball at all times as well as his trademark late dashes into the box for which he was nearly rewarded with a goal, he was at the heart of United’s best moments and at times linked up well with Rooney, Welbeck and Nani. Sometimes, he even seemed to be one step ahead of the others in his thinking but his performance bodes well for the future, particularly when the other players are on the same wavelength.

Still, it’s early days yet. Everton away was always going to be a tough game at any stage of the season and United were unfortunate that this game came at a time when our defence has been decimated by injuries. Next up are Fulham on Saturday afternoon – a match in which Robin Van Persie will probably make his first start for the club – and hopefully another four days of training will lead to United putting in a much sharper performance. They will most certainly need to against a Fulham team who will be buoyed by their five- goal hammering of Norwich on the opening weekend.


Do you agree/disagree with my views? Let me know by commenting below!

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By Sam McHale

Utd ST holder in the Stretford End. Lucky enough to be in Moscow '08, I eat, sleep and breathe football. Hoping - results permitting - to start Manchester Uni this September. You can follow me on Twitter: @Sam10McHale

3 replies on “A few thoughts: Everton away”

i totally agree with you.that was an incisive analysis.de gea was stunning,so was kagawa and even the unfit vidic was not bad out there.but i feel he shud have brought in anderson a little bit earlier……..

I’m surprised there was no mention of how terrible Evra’s performance was. Caught out of position multiple times and allowed dangerous crosses coming from his side. He appeared to be reluctant to close down on his flanks.

I agree with every word. Evra was awful as usual..I think the line up for Saturday should be: De Gea; rafael, wootton, vidic, evra; valencia, carrick, scholes, rooney; kagawa; v. persie.

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