Manchester United 1 - 1 Everton
Some close family friends are Manchester United season ticket holders and I got a lift up from them, Rob and his mother-in-law Cath picking me up from work. We were aware of the likely M56 crawl before we set off and our expectations were certainly met as we slowly made our way towards Old Trafford, Rob parking up about a 20 minute walk from the ground, just away from all the heavy after-match traffic.
Before kick off we just about had time for a quick pint. "We'll go the Town Hall" said Rob. Noticing my curious look he continued "It's a pie and a pint for fiver!". And sure enough, we got there and it was just that, complete with a reasonable selection of beers, quick service and a tasty pie. It was nice to recharge a little after a frustrating drive. We also gave ourselves plenty of time to get into the ground. Rob and Cath going one way, me taking Sir Matt Busby Way to the East Stand.
I was into the ground and up to my seat rather effortlessly, the players going through their final drills before heading in for final preparations. The team was changed somewhat from the Merseyside derby with Ronald Koeman deciding to go with four at the back, removing Matthew Pennington and drafting Gareth Barry into the midfield. Kevin Mirallas was preferred to Dominic Calvert-Lewin in attack. I was a little surprised to see Joel Robles retain his place in goal after quite an awful performance against Liverpool. Ex-blue Marouane Fellaini began the game for Manchester United whilst up front Zlatan Ibrahimavic returned from suspension.
It's a fabulous stadium Old Trafford and the Everton supporters certainly got behind their team from the off, though I am sad to report on a fair bit of racist language from a few guys around me aimed at pretty much any of the black players out there, including our striker. "Revel-head" and "Malteser-head" amongst others are of course unacceptable names to be thrown at players and I was sad to hear that from, I must stress a small minority, of my fellow Evertonians. It's been some time since I've heard anything like that.
This takes the shine off what was a dogged and spirited effort from Everton. We began brightly and got to grips with the game fairly early in what was quite the battle with tackles going in. Sadly the referee failed to officiate the game fairly, giving Manchester United the benefit of the majority of decisions and booking Idrissa Gana Gueye early on while letting Marouane Fellaini get away with similar offences without caution.
Our opener came somewhat out of nothing when Phil Jagielka did brilliantly to improvise and turn in a volley with his back to goal, squeezing it through the legs of David de Gea. A strange goal that one but good to see us now a threat from corner kicks again after our set-piece purgatory under Roberto Martinez. It took a while from where we were to figure out who had squeezed the ball in, until we realised it was Phil Jagielka who had sneaked it home as the players re-emerged for the restart.
The closest Manchrster United came to a first half equaliser was also from a set-piece, this time when Daley Blind's free kick was well saved by Joel Robles. Andre Herrera was first to the rebound but could only hit the crossbar from a tight angle. Jesse Lingard was simply pathetic in winning the free kick, deliberately obstructing Kevin Mirallas and then going down in a heap when Kevin tried to get around him. The referee was just as pathetic in his free kick award, this one of a series of poor decisions by Neil Swarbrick throughout the game.
We arrived art the break unscathed having defended resolutely. As for the second half, I'm a bit torn on what to make of it. The lads were ever so spirited and fought hard for what really should have been a very gritty three points, but Manchester United were not really getting past us and I felt we were looking good for the win until Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Luke Shaw were introduced. Luke Shaw, taking to the field to chants of "you fat bastard" from the Evertonians, provided better width from the left and was able to offer a better quality of cross, whereas Henrikh Mkhitaryan was able to offer more vibrancy as an attacking threat. This forced Ronald Koeman into a reactive change and I felt we went too defensive too early. With a quarter of the game still to play the lively Kevin Mirallas was sacrificed for another central defender in Matthew Pennington. I felt this played a bit more into Manchester United's hands and they were able to really pin us back and pile on the pressure.
That said, we did have plenty of chances to break and it was a combination of either the final ball lacking; the final ball well defended; or, more predominately, a real lack of cohesion between our forward players, that ensured the second goal never came. As the game wore on, though a lot was asked of him, we really needed more from Romalu but he was dead on his feet and could only contribute in fits and starts. At the other end, in no particular order, Paul Pogba headed against the crossbar when Manchester United where again given a free kick when Everton should have had it first but the referee typically favoured the hosts; Marouane Fellaini span and shot comfortably wide; Zlatan Ibrahimovic had the ball in the net but it was disallowed for offside; and, Zlatan headed over the crossbar with a good opportunity. Joel Robles, unrecognisable from the frozen man on Saturday, mopped up the rest. The travelling Evertonians roared their team on throughout.
We were into injury time and Everton had withstood a barrage of pressure and looked to be heading for the points. Maybe pressure brings panic and panic leads to bad decision making? Well it was certainly misguided of Ashley Williams to handle Luke Shaw's effort. Joel Robles likely would have saved it, but handle he did and the referee really had to give the penalty, much to his glee no doubt. A red card also for Ashley which the referee also really had to give. Having missed a penalty in his last outing I didn't really have much hope of Zlatan missing another and it was never really in doubt as he tucked it away in the corner. Everton tried to rally but as soon as it was punted long from to Romalu Lukaku from a free kick, Neil Swarbrick blew for full time...of course.
What a gutting way to have a win snatched away from you. I really thought we had done it but it wasn't to be. Credit to the buys to reacting with such spirit following Saturday's disappointment. It's a real shame as winning at Old Trafford would have made quite a statement and would have put us up to fifth position, even if temporarily. What an Everton way to lose out on the three points.
Still with seven games to play and four of them at home, we have an opportunity to finish the season strongly and you never know, it's possible that Arsenal and Manchester United could drop more points yet, even with their games in hand. Perhaps more crucially, so long as we don't finish any lower than we are now, we will have a European campaign to enjoy next season. Let's finish the job for this campaign, do some positive transfer business this summer and look forward as it's been a very promising campaign.
Onwards and upwards Blues.
Robles: Unrecognisable from Saturday's game and I'm dumbfounded as to how a player can be so poor one game yet so pivotal and decisive the next. Maddening. 9
Baines: Did very well and worked ever so hard both at left back and as wing back. A great effort. 8
Jagielka: A rock solid display and it's hard to fathom that he was performing so poorly earlier in the season that he was dropped. A true captains performance both with the goal and his marshalling of the back line and he was the most unlucky on the pitch not to finish on the winning team. My man of the match. 9
Williams: Ruined what was perhaps his best performance yet with his handball. I liked the telling off he gave to Romalu Lukaku for not pulling his weight when the ball was played up to him. Like most of us, I've been largely unimpressed with Ashley, but this performance shows what he can be capable of. There could be hope for him yet, even if he has to sit out on Sunday against the champions. 7
Holgate: Did very well and is much more comfortable at right back with some protection ahead of him. 8
Barry: Particularly in the second half he was very handy and made plenty of defensive tackles, headers and clearances. Also unlucky not to have finished on the winning team. My prove a vital squad player next season. 8
Gueye: Also excellent. Got about the pitch in his usual manner and did well given how long he had to do so with a caution against his name. A solid effort. 8
Davies: Worked tirelessly though struggled. As with all young players, you have to let them make their mistakes and learn the hard way. Give him a couple of years and he really could be the complete player. 5
Mirallas: Was lively throughout and unlucky to be hooked. I imagine he won't start the next game - surely Ronald Koeman can't have been impressed with his petulant attitude when he was substituted. 7
Barkley: Had a good game and used the ball well most of the time. Was fairly effective in the second half before substituted. 7
Lukaku: Battled well basically until our defensive reshuffle and then he hardly seemed interested and seemed to sulk a bit when more was needed of him. He was simply exhausted come the last 10 minutes however, which is probably why Dominic Calvert-Lewin was sent on to support him. 6
Pennington (for Mirallas): Made some good tackles and clearances as Everton soaked up the pressure. He will feel better for his efforts after his Merseyside derby struggles. 6
Calvert-Lewin (for Barkley): Was difficult circumstances to come into but he couldn't quite affect the game as was perhaps hoped. 5
Reader Comments (34)
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1 Posted 05/04/2017 at 07:31:34
It wasn't just Williams who was giving Rom stick... the usually quiet Baines was all over him as well, and when you piss off your teammates that much, you're having a stinker. Rom just wasn't involved enough or sufficiently connected with his teammates, especially at the end when he was needed.
I think you're overly generous with the subs... the oddly-chosen Pennington still looked panicky to me, and Calvert-Lewin was a disaster. At a time when we needed someone to not only keep the ball but drive at goal, Calvert-Lewin lost every challenge and fell over on most of them. Koeman gets the blame for not choosing Lookman or Valencia instead. I give him an 8 for his lineup and game plan and a 3 for his subs.
2 Posted 05/04/2017 at 07:43:44
I would take a slightly different view of Barkley's performance, however good in spells, but he had two clear chances to turn the screw on the break and just seemed to hesitate bringing each move to a messy end one of them taking play backwards into our own half from close to the edge of their box.
I'm now having serious doubts this lad has enough to make it with us a shame, but I have a feeling Koeman could be coming to the end of his tether with him. I hope he proves me wrong.
Depressing to hear the Neanderthals are still around there were a couple near me who couldn't complete a sentence without the word 'cunt' in it not kids either. Two feet away from my daughter and a young boy next to her. It really does turn your stomach.
Thanks again, Paul, for the time and effort onwards and upwards.
3 Posted 05/04/2017 at 08:29:17
On the subject of the racist away support, I'm afraid it is still a problem. These toe rags think being away from home somehow gives them licence to freely vent their spleen. I witnessed it at Wembley against Chelsea and afterwards wished I'd made a note of the seat numbers of those involved and reported it to the club. Maybe this is a course of action worth considering taking in the future?
4 Posted 05/04/2017 at 08:29:41
I really don't rate Ashley Williams but he did have a good game until the penalty.
I hope all the critics of Jagielka and Barry have had a reality check, the two were outstanding last night.
5 Posted 05/04/2017 at 09:47:59
And lets be honest, Man Utd's form of attack compared to Liverpool's is massive. They are happy to throw the cross into the box or the long punt/pass in repeatedly where the like of Jags and Williams will mop that up all day.
Liverpool get the ball down and run and press defenders in numbers. We panicked every time on Saturday they did that. Pennington probably is still having nightmares and Holgate too.
At the other end of the pitch, would I swap Rom and Barks for Sigurdsson and another workmanlike striker? Yes, in a heartbeat.
6 Posted 05/04/2017 at 11:42:04
We have nothing to play for now and if Rom can't be bothered to show for the big games then bench him...
7 Posted 05/04/2017 at 12:04:00
I think the changing moment was bringing off Mirallas for Pennington. For all his frustrations he held the ball up very effectively for us and took a lot of pressure from the midfield and defence.
The last two games have given me enough proof that we need to offload two players in the closed season, Lukaku and Barkley. It's time to cash in while we can and start to rebuild this team with fresh investment.
8 Posted 05/04/2017 at 12:13:06
I agree Sigurdsson would be a fantastic signing, since I knew we tried to sign him in the summer.
I have watched him whenever I can (only on TV)... his delivery hits the money nine times out of ten. Just his all round game is top drawer.
Just hope we can make this happen.
9 Posted 05/04/2017 at 12:25:01
Also good to see Williams shout at Lukaku and start to show the leadership we bought him for. Is that a 3 game ban for a straight red?
Maybe we can do a Barcelona and play with just one at the back in Jags. I'd like to bring Browning back from loan if we can.
10 Posted 05/04/2017 at 12:40:31
I watched the Everton show last Friday. Browning is back from loan at Preston. Injured.
Don't know how long for but surely Kenny at RB with Holgate inside is the other option to Pennington for Saturday.
11 Posted 05/04/2017 at 13:18:21
Every time Rom got a run on goal he tried to just bulldoze his way through and failed on every occasion even when there were really good options (Barkley and Mirallas come to mind) for a pass to a better placed player.
Whenever Zlatan got the ball he always looks for other options and only then if there aren't any he will take it on himself unless it's a clear chance for himself.
It's all very well being greedy as a striker but Rom seems more interested in making himself look good rather than the team.
Maybe that's what Ashley was saying to him!
12 Posted 05/04/2017 at 13:18:30
13 Posted 05/04/2017 at 13:56:50
On the pen, I blame Robles. Either call it or tell Williams to move if he's in your way. Schmeichel senior for example controlled the box. He yelled a lot but conceded very few. We know Robles has a mouth on him as he bitches to the media when he's dropped. He needs to boss the penalty area.
In lieu of instructions from behind I think Williams took the view "do no nothing and concede, or get sent off and they get a penalty. Certain goal or 50/50 chance of a goal."
It's ironic too that his detractors are lamenting his absence. Based on the comments on here about him all season, you'd think people would be happy he's suspended.
14 Posted 05/04/2017 at 14:03:56
15 Posted 05/04/2017 at 14:10:06
16 Posted 05/04/2017 at 15:00:52
Take the ball to the corner flag and maintain possession or win a few throw-ins, anything as long as the opposition aren't bobbing the bloody thing about in our penalty area.
Yet again, just like the Chelsea away game last season, we don't have cool heads when we needed them most. For some unknown reason when Everton are leading these away games with basically seconds left they just can't see it out.
Rank amateur, it's gone on for years and I'll say it again this summer, we need to look at employing a sports psychologist.
17 Posted 05/04/2017 at 15:14:24
18 Posted 05/04/2017 at 15:21:32
The guy is an arsehole, he's over rated, doesn't turn up when he's really needed and has a disrespecting shit attitude. Get rid.
19 Posted 05/04/2017 at 17:21:40
He was a typical workmanlike centre-forward who would control and pass or give and go.
So much like Costa, protecting the ball and holding defenders off.
This is why so many do not rate Lukaku. He still has so much to learn about the game.
20 Posted 05/04/2017 at 17:25:52
21 Posted 05/04/2017 at 17:28:28
Ok I'm no goalie so maybe I was wrong about Joel's but mainly I'm defending Williams. It looked to me like it was going in. If Zlat missed that pen we'd have been hailing Williams a la Suarez v Ghana.
22 Posted 05/04/2017 at 17:55:06
Please look at other important facets of the game before giving out player ratings.
23 Posted 05/04/2017 at 20:33:05
The only way is to 'out' them, just take a note of their seat number, and the club are duty bound to investigate. Might be difficult to prove of course, but if the same people are acting the same way for every game, a patter will emerge.
What a shame we still have these morons amongst us.
24 Posted 05/04/2017 at 22:50:46
25 Posted 05/04/2017 at 23:04:50
26 Posted 06/04/2017 at 06:51:22
As a former goalkeeper at a reasonable level, I do think Robles would possibly have been able to react and save the shot that Williams handled. It was a poor decision by Williams who at worst could have simply thrown his body in the way.
As for Lukaku, once again his ball-greedy "me me me" attitude showed his lack of team ethics and highlighted the reason why I am not convinced the 'big teams' he craves will be queueing up to sign him.
He recently quoted Suarez as as being one of his idols. I've watched many of Barca's games this season and seen Suarez work as hard at creating chances for others as he has at scoring himself. I'd advise Rom to watch a few videos of his hero in action. He's a long way from being the player he thinks he is.
With both Williams and Baines berating him for his lack of effort off and on the ball, Koeman needs to do something to prevent a situation developing that sees his teammates turning against him.
After 58 years of watching Everton, I can't remember a leading scorer who hasn't been universally loved by the fans. After 4 seasons, Rom continues to divide opinion among the fan base, which kind of tells its own story. Unlike those who came before him, Rom is a long way from being viewed as a 'legend: except perhaps in his own mind.
Time to get real, Rom, and stop believing the publicity machine. Knuckle down and learn to become a team player, a leader on the pitch. Then maybe... Just maybe...!
As for last night, even Bournemouth showed how to go to Anfield and take something from the game. Were you watching, Ronald Koeman?
27 Posted 06/04/2017 at 07:46:57
I agree; Suarez though is a better player than Lukaku. He's got far better technique and he's more clever, a team player with a nasty streak.
28 Posted 06/04/2017 at 08:33:30
I've said for many years now that when we can take 4 or 6 points every year from Liverpool FC, that will be the time we will be competing for the Premier League, Champions League slots and some of the main silverware on offer.
Regardless of who manages our club or who runs the club as a business, our minimum requirement as a football team is to beat the Red Shite home and away every season. Part of the problem with this fixture is not only a football / tactical issue but also a mental / psychological problem that we need to overcome. Only when we overcome this fucking voodoo of Liverpool FC will be the time we move forward as a club.
What did we go to Anfield to do last weekend; our tactical plan was pathetic. We're just never smart enough against this very average Liverpool team. I'd be happier if we just went there and parked the bus and played for a 0-0 draw.
Whatever we need to do, player hypnosis, change in diet, move out of the city, change in the way we analyze the game, bring in other resources to provide this much needed step change.
Unless we start to change our complete strategy for this particular fixture, we will just carry on "existing" in this City.
29 Posted 06/04/2017 at 15:44:54
We won't just carry on "existing" in this city if we move out of the city as you suggested two lines earlier in your post.
Move out of this city?
Rethink that one mate.
30 Posted 06/04/2017 at 16:39:22
Having said that, if a body of fans yelled "You lazy rich twat (regardless of your background, colour or size)," to some 'stars', and fit it to a catchy tune, I reckon every fan of every club may join in!
There's a difference!
31 Posted 07/04/2017 at 07:04:28
At present he is a big fish in a fairly small pond, but place him on the world stage and I think he could drown under the weight of his own belief and expectations. Be very careful what you wish for, Romelu Lukaku, legend in your own back yard.
32 Posted 07/04/2017 at 07:19:55
Actually all Lukaku talks about is wanting to win trophies, that a player is judged by trophies, and he wants to compete in the biggest competitions for clubs that challenge for trophies. Try reading his actual quotes.
“Everton as a football club has a great history. But the future has to be written. You get me? Because we always talk about the teams of the 80s and 70s, and if you look it was great. But we as players, we want the fans talking about us instead of us talking about them.
“You want to be remembered as well. No matter where you play you want to be remembered. You cannot only be remembered by scoring goals, you want to be remembered by winning trophies.
“That is what the fans want. So instead of living in the past, you have to think ahead. How this club has to grow, how this club has to improve, which player does it want to bring in so you can challenge for the big trophies?”
“You want to show who is best. But as a team you want to be the best. I want my team to be the best. I want my team to be the most attractive to play in the league. The big aim in football is to win as many titles as you can.”
Yeah Brian, definitely not a single mention about being part of a team in his actual words. Except of course where he literally says "I want my team to be the best." But yeah, he's all about goals and nothing else, except he only says everything to the contrary, that it's about the team and competing for trophies that matters.
33 Posted 07/04/2017 at 11:59:50
It also reported Chelsea are tabling a bid of £100m for Lukaku and Barkley. I am beginning to think that would be good business.
34 Posted 08/04/2017 at 06:15:06
Rom's problem, highlighted in many published statistics this season, show him to be among the laziest forwards in the league. How often do we see him chasing down a player to retrieve the ball when he loses out in a tackle? Where is his intent to run his guts out to win 50/50 balls? How often do we see him not look up for options to pass, to create, instead of attempting shots that simply cannon off the defender in front of him?
It's all very well him saying he wants to be part of a winning team, I just want him to demonstrate more willingness to work for the team instead of for his own self-aggrandisement. That's the difference between Rom and the truly great strikers in the Champions League.
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