Arsenal dealt us quite the body blow in the early game in the pub with a convincing win at Hull City. The four-point gap opened up between fourth and fifth looking difficult to bridge with Everton to play Manchester United, the team with the best away record in the Premier League. Having witnessed yesterday’s dominant win over David Moyes’ team you left wondering quite how that was possible. Make no mistake – this is certainly the worst Manchester United team I’ve seen visit Goodison Park in my life time.

We arrived at Goodison Park to a very buoyant atmosphere with the crowd up for the match. I was glad the reception afforded for David Moyes was not as vitriolic as I expected as I don’t think he would have deserved that given all his efforts at Everton over the years. At the end of the day it was Everton’s talking on the pitch which spoke volumes about just how much the club have progressed since last summer and how much Moyes is struggling in a Manchester United team which is certainly not devoid of quality.

There were no big surprises to the starting line-up with McCarthy returning into the midfield and Naismith simply playing his way into the attack at the expense of McGeady and Deulofeu (both of whom struggled mid-week against Crystal Palace). Barkley retained his place ahead of Leon Osman. Wayne Rooney captained Manchester United with Jonny Evans, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Alex Buttner featuring in quite a makeshift back line for the current Champions.

Ex-Red Tim Howard and ex-Blue Wayne Rooney captained the two teams and led them out onto the pitch. Howard winning the toss and Everton attacking the Park End in the first half. Everton had a few early openings in the game but perhaps didn’t show enough composure with Barkley and Naismith both wayward with half-chances. It was a strange half. Manchester United had a lot of the play though couldn’t pass a resolute back line and disciplined midfield. It meant Everton could excel on the break and they twice did so to good effect to put us 2-0 ahead before half time.

With the first goal Phil Jones unnecessarily handled and Clattenburg didn’t hesitate with pointing to the spot – Baines dispatching down the middle of the goal; and the second goal coming after a smart finish from Mirallas whence he was played through by Coleman and onside by Buttner. Everton 2-0 ahead before half time and the only relief for Moyes being that the gentlemen who decided to attend dressed as the Grim Reaper – and standing up mockingly every time Moyes took to the touchline – was ejected before the break. At half time Everton in total control and you already couldn’t see a way back for Manchester United who were yet to register a shot on target…with only perhaps a penalty shout for a challenge by McCarthy on Buttner their only possible opening.

It was a surprise that Moyes didn’t change it at the break for Manchester United as Everton locked the game down…even the introduction of Antolin Alcaraz at the expense of hamstrung Sylvain Distin irrelevant to the direction of the match. The midfield pairing of McCarthy and Barry didn’t give Manchester United’s midfield an inch and we continued to break down our right hand side to excellent effect – Naismith and Lukaku both coming close to adding further gloom to David Moyes, Steven Naismith particularly close with one opportunity which De Gea got down to tip around his post. Manchester United did eventually carve out a good opportunity with just a few minutes remaining though, under great pressure from McCarthy, Rooney was denied by a good Tim Howard save.

The second half was enjoyable for the supporters, the Gwladys Street teasing David Moyes with chants of “Moyesie give us a wave” compounding the agony for the Scot in what was a very comfortable win for Everton, the easiest I’ve ever seen against Manchester United in fact in my 20-odd years of watching Premier League football. Everton were fantastic, Manchester United were anything but. It left you head-scratching on just what went wrong against Crystal Palace mid-week but one thing is palpable – Everton will carry the fight for fourth right until the end.

Time will tell if we make it but we’re still in with a good chance.

Player Ratings:
Howard: Was there when called upon with one particularly good late save. I’ve never seen an Everton keeper so underworked against Manchester United. 7
Baines: Scored his penalty and had a solid game at both ends of the pitch. 7
Distin: Was resolute in the first half. I hope his injury doesn’t keep him out of our final three fixtures. 7
Stones: Excelled again at the back. Will only get better and better as he irons out some of his small errors and continues to distribute well offensively. It’s with great credit that he has done so well since coming into the team to replace our injured skipper. 7
Coleman: Excellent on the counter attack. Caused Alex Buttner headaches all game. 8
Barry: A brilliant disciplined performance by Barry in what could be his last game for Everton at Goodison Park. I certainly hope it’s not and that he will still be here next season. He’s had an exceptional year at Everton. 8
McCarthy: Covered every blade of grass and certainly didn’t appear injured. He’s really grown in stature this season and you can see him becoming a key player for Everton for a long, long time and is only likely to improve. My man of the match. 9
Barkley: Seemed a bit isolated out on the left and didn’t really get into the game. 6
Mirallas: One of his best performances this season. Took his goal splendidly and, supported by Coleman, was a persistent thorn in Manchester United. Has missed that consistency this season but does prove what a great player he could possibly be. Last summer I felt Moyes would come after Coleman and Mirallas. He still may do, though if they want to go is another thing. 8
Naismith: Had a good game. Perhaps not the best composure at times but always showed great energy and effort in attack and carried the fight to Manchester United as much as anyone. 7
Lukaku: Certainly offered a lot more than he did last Wednesday evening. We could have done with that performance then. Regardless he was quite busy and showed flashes of quality. If he is available this summer however I do think we may be better off spending the money elsewhere as we could maybe get better value for money with other players. 7

Substitutes:
Alcaraz (for Distin): Settled in quite effortlessly really. May be called upon these last few games if Distin and Jagielka remain injured. Good to know he seems ready. 7
Osman (for Barkley): Did OK. Quite a comfortable display. 6
McGeady
(for Mirallas): Not on long, can’t judge.

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Chad Schofield
362 Posted 22/04/2014 at 09:05:33
It really was an easy win in the end with Roberto again showing he is a dynamic manager and Moyes showing his staid predictable set-your-watch-by-em substitutions. It fekt a bit like beating Fulham in the end.

Just heard he has now been sacked. He'll get another job soon, but necer again for a team that wants attacking football.

Nick Entwistle
387 Posted 22/04/2014 at 09:51:13
I think you're slightly over the top on the Everton performance. Utd funnily enough had all the possession, did all the attacking but fannied about the box and got done on the counter. Like Everton on a bad day.

The difference here was Rooney. He had the worst game I've ever seen him play. He ran and ran but I don't remember for all his positioning once doing something decent with the ball. You'd question him going to the WC on that performance.

Tommy Coleman
394 Posted 22/04/2014 at 10:15:04
Nick Entwistle. You've been quiet recently.

Now the season is coming to a close...

Want to admit you were wrong about Martinez?

Want to admit you were wrong about Moyes?

At the start of the season you said I knew nothing about football if I thought Everton could overtake Man Utd, I told you you knew nothing about football history if you thought it couldn't. Want to admit you were wrong about that ?

Peter Barry
402 Posted 22/04/2014 at 10:32:30
Just can't bring yourself to praise Roberto can you Entwistle how typically misguided you are just like you were about TGT with whom you will be forever linked in most TW posters minds.
Peter Barry
403 Posted 22/04/2014 at 10:32:30
Just can't bring yourself to praise Roberto can you Entwistle how typically misguided you are just like you were about TGT with whom you will be forever linked in most TW posters minds.
Nick Entwistle
426 Posted 22/04/2014 at 11:15:46
Raghhhh...

We lost in exactly the same way against Palace. Everton on a bad day. No big deal.

John Daley
429 Posted 22/04/2014 at 11:23:46
"We lost in exactly the same way against Palace"

We absolutely did not. Did you actually bother to watch either game? Whatever you want to say about that Palace defeat and some of the sub-par performances from our players, one thing you can't lay at their door was a lack of fight and determination to try and salvage something until the final whistle. One of those teams was a broken down, will-sapped shadow of it's former self, playing with no plan, pride or passion. The other team was managed by Roberto Martinez.

Oh, and the reason that united had 'all the possession, did all the attacking' was because they played right into Roberto's gameplan. Everton could have kept the ball and played it about without any in attempt at penetration whenever they wanted. It was a pre-meditated choice not to.

John Daley
430 Posted 22/04/2014 at 11:23:46
"We lost in exactly the same way against Palace"

We absolutely did not. Did you actually bother to watch either game? Whatever you want to say about that Palace defeat and some of the sub-par performances from our players, one thing you can't lay at their door was a lack of fight and determination to try and salvage something until the final whistle. One of those teams was a broken down, will-sapped shadow of it's former self, playing with no plan, pride or passion. The other team was managed by Roberto Martinez.

Oh, and the reason that united had 'all the possession, did all the attacking' was because they played right into Roberto's gameplan. Everton could have kept the ball and played it about without any in attempt at penetration whenever they wanted. It was a pre-meditated choice not to.

John Daley
431 Posted 22/04/2014 at 11:23:46
"We lost in exactly the same way against Palace"

We absolutely did not. Did you actually bother to watch either game? Whatever you want to say about that Palace defeat and some of the sub-par performances from our players, one thing you can't lay at their door was a lack of fight and determination to try and salvage something until the final whistle. One of those teams was a broken down, will-sapped shadow of it's former self, playing with no plan, pride or passion. The other team was managed by Roberto Martinez.

Oh, and the reason that united had 'all the possession, did all the attacking' was because they played right into Roberto's gameplan. Everton could have kept the ball and played it about without any in attempt at penetration whenever they wanted. It was a pre-meditated choice not to.

Nick Entwistle
439 Posted 22/04/2014 at 11:50:20
I'm not really sure what your point is John, given we're in agreement.

John Daley
446 Posted 22/04/2014 at 12:22:16
Nick,

Still steadfastly refusing to see what's right in front of your nose even if it's Big Daddy sized, decked out in day-glo comedy keks, complete with blinking lights and a camp, crackly recorded message saying 'Yoo-Hoo! Over here Nicky boy... you blind c##t'?

We're nowhere near being in agreement if you consider the Everton performance against Palace to be in any way comparable to Man Uniteds total capitulation against us.

The simple point (if it really needs spelling out) was that the two performances were not 'exactly the same'.

Paul Tran
459 Posted 22/04/2014 at 13:11:51
Good point Nick, 'He ran and ran but I don't remember for all his positioning once doing something decent with the ball'. A fabulous microcosm of what Moyes does to good players. Bet they're looking forward to kicking a ball in pre-season training this summer.

Big difference between this and the Palace game was that we got the first goal. That makes a huge difference to us and is something we've got to work on.

We all get things wrong. I remember saying on these pages that Moyes wouldn't get a better job. Never been so happy to be wrong.

The main thing is that the 'rubbish' manager stays here. If he does, I'm really looking forward to next season, regardless of what happens in the next three games.

Nick Entwistle
460 Posted 22/04/2014 at 13:21:37
True I didn't see it, but that's what I garnered from the write-ups. Palace ceded possession and did us on the fast counter. If the game wasn't the same, then I'm sure you can explain why and fair enough.
Harold Matthews
781 Posted 23/04/2014 at 04:37:09
No Nick. We didn't have all the possession. As Ronnie Douglass noted on the radio. They were stronger, won all the 2nd balls and wanted it more. We also conceded 3 soft goals, two which were down to the kid. They enjoyed the services of a lethal flyer called Bolasie who murdered Baines and Coleman.
Nick Entwistle
816 Posted 23/04/2014 at 09:42:23
I think you need to start again Harold. We had 70% against Palace, were out done by a team who wanted it more, conceded soft goals and got done by a flyer. And how is that not a reverse from the Utd game?

I'll think we'll leave it there as the Utd sacking is making people a little excited.

Paul Tran
162 Posted 24/04/2014 at 10:57:19
Nick, I think people are arguing with the name of the poster rather than what you're writing.

I saw both games and there were plenty of similarities. The big one being the team who scored fist controlled the game.

From our perspective, that similarity was the actual big difference - we've got to learn how to deal with going a goal down and we have to sort out the corners at both ends of the pitch.

David Finney
183 Posted 24/04/2014 at 13:11:59
It's true that we had 68% possession in the Palace game and 39% in the United game but those tactics were right for both games if you consider the number of chances created as a result 17-9 in our favour v United and 17-7 in our favour v Palace. Palae just were more clinical than we were on the night.
Brian Harrison
188 Posted 24/04/2014 at 13:21:15
I think too many put great store by the possession stats in games. Yes every team wants to control the ball as much as possible, but possession without an end result is meaningless.
There have been many games of late were the team having most possession have created very little. Take last nights Champions league game, Bayern had a lot more possession than Real Madrid but Real should have been 3 up by halftime. I think the only save Cassilas had to make was in the last minutes of the game. Also the Chelsea Galatasery match was exactly the same Chelsea had less possession but dominated from start to finish in goals and chances.
Si Cooper
192 Posted 24/04/2014 at 13:27:55
I think the difference between the Palace and United games is that if we had beaten Palace 4-3 no-one would have batted an eye-lid because of the chances we created (but didn't take), but United didn't deserve anything from the other game.

Palace didn't sucker us, they were just more direct and more clinical. In the end, all that really matters is scoring more goals than your opponents, but that doesn't mean all wins are the same. Looking at possession stats in isolation tells you very little.

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