Louis Van Gaal witnessed the same outcome his predecessor David Moyes witnessed last year at Goodison Park as United were soundly beaten 3-0 by the Merseyside Blues. After McCarthy scored within the opening five minutes, Everton went 2-0 up before the break through Stone. Mirallas’s third goal deep into the second half sealed the game as a contest.
Let us look at the five things learned from the game –
An overhaul in defence is needed in summer
Former Reds captain Gary Neville in a recent interview said United are just three players short of a title winning squad. However, seeing the way United defended against Everton, the Reds may require atleast three players in defence alone this summer.
If rumours are to be believed, Nathaniel Clyne is a United player in the summer. Then United may need atleast another couple of quality established players in the centre-back positions rather than buying versatile defenders like Rojo and Blind who can also do a job in the defence.
The present crop of players seems to be only efficient in filling the back four places on a temporary or an emergency basis. They don’t look like players with whom United can rely on for an entire season especially when aiming for the league title next campaign. Van Gaal needs to invest big in that department in the summer.
Van Gaal needs to find a replacement for Carrick
Manchester United looked two different sides when Carrick is in the team and when Carrick is not present. In both the six games winning run which United enjoyed in November-December and February-April, Carrick’s involvement was huge for the Reds. He was the unsung hero in both those great streak.
However when Carrick was not present, United not only struggled to play with any purpose in attack but were equally poor in defence. That is because Carrick is the only United player who is capable of sitting in front of the defence and not just help the team with defending, but also plays a crucial role in attack, with his neat distribution. However, the English international is not getting any younger at the age of 33. As a result of which Carrick cannot play week-in, week-out at the same level.
Hence, when the England international is not playing the immediate slide in Reds performance is very evident. So Van Gaal has got to find a replacement for him in the summer to hold the fort at the middle of the park for years to come.
New manager but the same outcome!
David Moyes will certainly not forget Goodison Park anytime soon. After enjoying several happy years at the club, his final outing as United boss also came in the same venue. In that match last year, United lost 2-0, with both the goals coming in the first half. Fast forward a year and United now with Louis Van Gaal have not improved much as the Reds came to the half time break with the same score-line. The change in manager has not helped United to improve their fortunes this season at Goodison.
The only plus this season can be said with the positive football United have played there on Sunday evening. However, in defence the Reds were as bad as they were last year. Hence, the expansive pressing football did not pay any dividends for United as they endured a similar outing. Infact United went one step ahead to lost the match 3-0. But, one thing we do know this time is Van Gaal will not be sacked like his predecessor after this poor result.
Possession is not guaranteeing many openings for the Reds
For the second week running United came out of a match dominating the opposition in terms of possession, but still ended up losing the match. Last week, Chelsea narrowly edged United 1-0 at Stamford Bridge despite having only around 30 percent possession.
However, this time though United suffered an heavier defeat despite dominating the possession once again. At the end of the first half at Goodison Park, United dominated the possession with 62% compared to Everton’s 38%. However, it was Everton who went into the break with a commanding 2-0 lead. In the second half too nothing changed, as United finished the match with 65% possession compared to Everton’s 35%. Nonetheless it was Everton who yet again came out on top as they beat Reds 3-0.
Sir Alex Ferguson never believed in retaining the ball as he only concentrated on what United managed when they did have the ball. But, Van Gaal’s all possession football has not yet found its secret mantra as United are having so much ball, but are not able to do much with it.
Top Four is not yet secured –
After beating Manchester City, many believed that the top four positions are all but secured for the Reds, but the harsh reality beckoned only after that for Manchester United. After losing two games in a row, the Reds know that top four battle is not quite over. With four games to go, United need atleast two wins and a draw to secure it with 72 or require three victories to guarantee them without any doubt.
Also with United set to face West Bromwich Albion (Home), Crystal Palace (Away), Arsenal (Home) and Hull City (Away), in the last four fixtures, the Reds know the minimum target which is set upon them is very much achievable.
However, the teams morale will be very low after the last 2 results, especially the one against Everton will be hard to recover from. So Manchester United know that unless they manage to achieve it, nothing can be taken for granted in this league until then. The Reds will be hoping to bounce back quickly next week at home to West Brom, then they can take it from there.
Image Courtesy: Dailymail and Manchester Evening News