Manchester Utd 2 - 0 Everton

A bit late this week, but we’ve got time to digest and reflect.

I know it is difficult to comprehend on the back of a disappointing defeat, but we played well and, despite the frustration, we could have won that or at least claimed a point. As always, our lack of confidence in front of goal cost us. And two reckless challenges. Fine margins.

A very early start due to the early kick-off. Into London to be challenged by train cancellations. Not due to strikes this time, apparently staff shortages. So, I was nervously looking at the board. Eventually there was a platform announced for a train that was running. People started sprinting to the platform in a seeming state of panic. I just calmly made my way down. The train was absolutely rammed. People standing in the walkways. Barely room for movement. I initially sat on one of the shelves where people put their cases on. I got bored of that and moved down a few carriages and eventually found a seat to sleep in.

The train was inevitably full of Man Utd supporters, but most were obvious tourists, many from abroad, who I would imagine were on their first and possibly only visit to the so-called Theatre of Dreams. I hope we don’t go so tacky in naming ours. Everton Stadium will do for me. No disrespect, by the way, it was probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience for them.

All things considered, I arrived In Manchester in good time and onto the tram at Piccadilly. Thank you to the Manchester United supporters pointing me to the right tram as I nearly ended up on my way to Bury. It’s a good system, but those trams do move slowly. First world problems. I had a good discussion with a fellow Evertonian from Huyton, which was causing much intrigue and questions from the surrounding Man Utd supporters. We were both optimistic that we could get something.

An announcement was made as I waited outside the ground, warning supporters not to make abusive comments and especially about football tragedies. No Evertonian did. We were all stood beneath a memorial to the Munich disaster, which is directly above the entrance to the away end.

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Then a group of Manchester United supporters walk past almost immediately chanting “You Scouse Bastards” repeatedly. The irony being they were German!

One Evertonian got very irate and was shouting at the Police and stewards claiming that it was offensive and were they going to do anything about it? The response was that he got warned he had 5 seconds to get into the ground and got a 5 finger count down. Fortunately, he got in. I spoke to the steward, and he said it was fine and Everton are fine. He is more concerned about 10,000 Kopites embarking on Old Trafford later this month for the cup match at the weekend.

A bit of confusion on meeting with Mike to pick up my ticket. I gravitated around the main entrance where most of the Everton supporters were queuing and entering, not realising there is the other section in the south stand, which is where I should have been. My bad. In fairness, Mike had told me, but we got there and made our way in together.

Anyway, the match. I don’t think I can say a lot that hasn’t been said elsewhere.

I thought we played well against one of the poorest United teams I’ve witnessed in recent years. We took the game to them from the start and should have taken something. So many missed chances. I’m glad they had those safe standing barriers to hold onto as we were only two rows up from the United supporters in front of us and I might have fallen into them a number of times when I was convinced we had scored!

We all knew they were penalties straight away even though they were down the other end. No complaints and no one debating. You could see it even from our distant viewing point. No dispute, just stupid reckless and unnecessary tackles that cost us at least a point.

It might not sit well with everyone, and we all see the game differently, but McNeil was our best player on the day, in my opinion. His effort was outstanding; he worked incredibly hard, constantly chasing, drifting inside a lot, closing, and he came close to scoring. He seemed to be all over the pitch. I would also give Beto praise for his work ethic. He could come good. Strong, powerful and full of effort.

Pickford made a cracking save and somehow stood up with the ball after a goalmouth scramble when I didn’t know what was going on and could barely look.

I thought Mykolenko again was steady. We should have hooked Harrison and got a right-sided player on the right side, Seamus or Patterson or both. I don’t like slating players but Harrison had an off day. If we’re going to play him, put him on his natural side.

Onana continues to be an enigma. He does some good things but then goes missing and gets caught on the wrong side of the ball too often. I thought James Garner had a decent game, but once again in general, our midfield was missing, and we overpassed them out a lot with the Pickford and Tarkowski punts too often.

Dyche made his changes earlier than usual although I’m not sure what the Ashley Young one was supposed to achieve or what it did. Dobbin looks interesting but I’m personally undecided. I thought Gomes was decent when he came on. Not great, but decent. Someone comfortable on the ball, which many of ours treat like a hot potato.

One of those days when it just wouldn’t go in. Their keeper took everything served to him and once again there must have been an electromagnetic field in front of the opposition goal. We created enough chances; we just didn’t finish.

We didn’t look out of place, but I could see the lack of confidence. On too many occasions, the players would get into decent positions but then pass. Passing on responsibility rather than taking it.

Old Trafford is a strange stadium. Spectacular on the outside. Great views from the stands, but it is starting to look dated on the inside. I suppose they were one of the first to redevelop but that must have been 20 years ago now.

Tram chaos on the way back. But I guess trying to shepherd 75,000 fans is difficult to control. Even though I stopped for a rubber-tasting cheeseburger to let the crowd disperse, it still took an hour to get on the tram once I got to the station near the cricket ground.

Straight on to the first available train to Euston; I wasn’t chancing my bets. I randomly found Dave, Vince & then Martin on the way back. Good company. An Everton enclave amongst the many Manchester United supporters. Vince is an interesting character. Don’t ever call him a cockney! He’s been everywhere and is an Everton encyclopedia who has travelled to most of the grounds in the country and followed the blues in Europe. He hates just about every club in London!!

Licking my wounds. We are still in the fight. No point crying over spilt milk. We have a break from it before Bournemouth. Hopefully not as traumatic as the 2 visits in 4 days last season. Another evening match at Newcastle. Honestly, is there no consideration for visiting supporters?

As I have commented elsewhere, there are games and points to play for. Bournemouth, Burnley, Forest, Brentford, Luton, Sheffield Utd. Even Chelsea and the derby. Why not? There are 12 points there. I’ll write Arsenal off as we always get battered there. We could even get something from the trip to St James's Park. Another evening kick-off. Honestly?!

Keep going, Blues. We’ll get there. Perform like that and you will win the important games coming up.

Reader Comments (7)

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Dave Abrahams
1 Posted 15/03/2024 at 10:09:34
I saw the game very much like yourself, Danny, a poor United team played a defensive game relying on breakaway tactics which won them the game — helped, as you say, by very reckless tackles and terrible lack of cover by the team, a constant deficiency and poor tactics in nearly every game this season, home and away.

McNeil was one of the few who tried to hold on to the ball and look for teammates to pass to, the support was next to nothing helping him.

On to your next journeys, Danny, I hope you have better stories to tell about our performances on the field. Good luck and good health, Danny.

Tony Abrahams
2 Posted 15/03/2024 at 10:34:05
That wasn't tattoo Vince, by any chance, Danny? Rumour has it he broke into Highbury, one night, and sprayed 'Everton FC' all over the marble walls!
Danny O’Neill
3 Posted 15/03/2024 at 12:51:30
Could have been, Tony, but he had a coat on. Good company.

Very gravelly south eastern accented voice, but the way he spoke, he could have come from L4!

Very passionate about Everton as much as he was about his dislike of most London clubs.

Mark Murphy
4 Posted 15/03/2024 at 13:29:30
Is he the guy who’s son works behind the bar in the Brick?
David Currie
5 Posted 15/03/2024 at 17:38:02
Strange that a group of Germans are fans of an English team? Nuts the lot of them!
Tony Abrahams
6 Posted 16/03/2024 at 09:44:45
My biggest pet hate is not putting a player on the near post for corners, Danny, and I think we are now on our 7th consecutive manager who seems to have ignored this very basic, but very important rule.
Danny O’Neill
7 Posted 16/03/2024 at 11:27:16
It frustrates me, Tony. The deep corners to hit Tarkowski at the far post.

It's become too predictable.

We should mix it up a bit.

I know supporters get frustrated when we don't clear the first defender at the near post, but the aim is to get the flick on to disrupt the defence and allow the runners to attack the ball.

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