Manchester United 2 - 1 Everton
Posted above the team jerseys in the Visitors dressing room at Old Trafford this morning were placards boasting three inspirational words: "Play With Arrogance" – instructions to his players from Roberto Martinez designed, no doubt, to perpetuate the attitude they brought with them to this fixture last season as they ended a 21-year wait for an Everton victory on Manchester United's home turf.
Perhaps, once filtered through translation, the Catalan is trying to convey something akin to self-belief or inhibition, but if it was literally arrogance he wanted from his players, he didn't really get it this afternoon... unless it was the arrogance inferred by their apparent belief that they could afford their hosts the oceans of space they occasionally did, or the gift of possession like that from Tim Howard that led to the winning goal, and still take another three points off the Red Devils.
The result was, of course, very different, with the Blues paying for only really rousing themselves out of what was a cagey and largely impotent performance until the closing stages of each half when they finally started asking serious questions of a makeshift United defence that featured a 19-year-old making only his second start. As at Anfield a week ago and, indeed, in Krasnodar on Thursday, the travelling Toffees were left to wonder why their team hadn't had a real go until they were chasing the game.
Everton could, of course, have snatched another dramatic late point were it not for the defiance of David de Gea in turning seemingly goalbound shots from Leon Osman and Bryan Oviedo behind in stunning fashion in stoppage time. Psychologically, it would have provided another boost to a disappointing start to the season but there's a danger that a third successive draw would also, again, have masked a curious lack of drive from a team that, even without the sorely-missed trio of Seamus Coleman, Ross Barkley and Kevin Mirallas, can still hurt opponents and score goals. They showed that again today but it was too little, too late.
And if the ignominy of a third Premier League defeat in seven games wasn't bad enough, the Blues lost another vital first-team member to injury when John Stones crumpled to the floor during those moments of injury-time drama after falling badly on his ankle and had to be stretchered off with suspected ligament damage. Like Mirallas before him, one of Martinez's few consistently effective players has been sidelined at a time when we really need him to establish some sort of momentum.
Steven Pienaar, too, suffered another relapse on his first appearance since succumbing to injury seven games ago, casting more doubts on his ability to ever be a reliable force in the Blues' team given his injury-ravaged year. And that was after Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy had both failed fitness tests on their respective soft-tissue complaints, further weakening the case for arguing that this Everton squad truly has sufficient depth to maintain a challenge on multiple fronts in the face of a succession of injuries.
Nevertheless, Martinez named a highly-capable starting XI that featured four changes from the Europa League match in Russia three days ago, with Pienaar, Muhamed Besic, Romelu Lukaku, and Steven Naismith coming in for Christian Atsu, Darron Gibson, Samuel Eto'o and Leon Osman. Louis van Gaal, meanwhile, started with Jaun Mata in place of the suspended Wayne Rooney behind the fairly daunting strike duo of Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcoa. As it turned out, the Blues kept the Dutchman fairly quiet – Howard's petulant stoppage-time instigation of some handbags at 10 paces with him notwithstanding – but it was nailed on that the Colombian would score his first goal for his new club against Everton. They always do.
United started very quickly, too, pinging the ball around the final third and forcing an early save from Howard when Falcao, capitalising on the first of a number of unhindered balls into the Blues' area, powered a header straight at the American. While referee Kevin Friend threatened to lose the plot with a rash of bookings that started with an unnecessarily harsh yellow card for the impressive Besic, Daley Blind ballooned one effort and Angel di Maria saw a deflected effort sail narrowly over before Van Gaal's side took the lead after 26 minutes.
Blind was given the freedom of Old Trafford to bring the ball forward before feeding Rafael on the right flank and the Brazilian, enjoying a similar amount of unchallenged space, hoisted a deep cross into the Everton box. Phil Jagielka could only divert the ball to the feet of Mata on the other side of the area and when he laid it off to Di Maria, the Argentine swept the ball past Howard from 17 yards.
Howard then averted a disastrous second goal three minutes later with a good one-handed save from Di Maria's direct free kick following a foul by Gareth Barry.
For their part, Everton hadn't been able to establish any fluidity going forward and with Pienaar understandably looking a little rusty and his reunion with Leighton Baines down the left flank not really producing much in the way of their trademark interplay, they produced very little until the last few minutes of the first half.
First, Baines picked out Lukaku with more direct ball forward but though Belgian brought the ball down neatly, he failed to ht the target with a shot on the turn and then, on the other flank, a flash of Pienaar magic helped set the scene for the left back to bring the Blues level from penalty spot. The South African's delightful backheel into the path of Tony Hibbert ended a well-worked move down the right and the fullback drew a clumsy foul from Luke Shaw and the whistle from referee Friend.
Baines had been faultless with a dead from ball from 12 yards before today but his placement this time was poor and De Gea pushed his penalty away.
The equaliser, and with it the chance to swing the pendulum in Everton's direction, did come 10 minutes into the second half, though, with Baines the provider following a foul in a dangerous area outside United's area. The left back received a short pass back from Barry before whipping in a cross that found the head of Naismith and the Scot powered home an unstoppable header.
It was another superbly-taken goal by a player whose effort and never-say-die attitude has won over the supporters and earned him four goals from seven starts already this term.
Two minutes later, Jagielka almost steered a header into the far corner but Falcao hacked it away near his own goal line as the Blues threatened to turn the screw a little. To that end, Martinez was preparing to bring on Oviedo in place of the ineffective Aiden McGeady when Pienaar came out of a tackle hobbling in all-too-familiar fashion and signalled to the bench that his afternoon was over.
Play went on in the meantime and Howard came haring out of his area to clear a ball near the touchline but instead of belting it into the stands he inexplicably kicked it straight to a red shirt and it was worked inside where Di Maria eventually dragged a poor shot that would have fizzed well wide had it not gone straight to the feet of Falcao who could hardly miss from the centre of the goal. Comeback scuppered, Everton were a goal down again.
Once again, the cavalry in response was very slow in coming. Hibbert and McGeady were eventually replaced with 13 minutes left in favour of Osman and Tyias Browning but it wasn't until the 87th minute that De Gea was forced into another save when he got down to smother Osman's low drive. And the Spaniard outdid himself in the final three minutes of play when Naismith played Osman in beautifully but De Gea won the one-on-one duel with dive to his right before palming Oviedo's excellent half-volley over the bar.
So a four-game road trip ends disappointingly with two draws and two defeats and a real flat feeling heading into the international break. After such an impressive season in Martinez's first year in charge, the Blues are clearly struggling to find themselves this time around. At the heart of it is a general lack of attacking intensity, a problem that pre-dated Mirallas' injury but which has, unsurprisingly, been exacerbated by his absence. Everton just didn't ask enough questions of a United defence that shipped five goals to Leicester a fortnight ago.
Equally worrying is the form of Lukaku who has looked a shadow of the player who took the Premier League by storm over the past two seasons and hasn't really looked the part at all since his goal against Palace two weeks ago. Whether it's an issue of confidence, fitness or the role that he is being asked to play by his manager, it's clearly not working and the return of Barkley, alongside whom he was so impressive at times last season, cannot come soon enough.
In the meantime, Martinez needs to get back to basics with some of his players – not least one of his most experienced charges in the form of Howard – and try and restore some of that fearlessness and – in his words – "arrogance" that made them such an exciting and formidable side last season. The fact that his team sits just one place above the relegation zone is frustrating but no cause for real alarm at this stage. The same situation come the end of November would be another story.
Reader Comments (39)
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1 Posted 06/10/2014 at 08:47:25
A pretty awful first 2 months of the season, don't think anyone would have predicted just one league win in the first 7! Only positive is that it's still early in the season, beat Villa and Burnley in the next two games and we'll shoot up to the top half of the table. (Admittedly we've also played Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd away in those 7 games.)
Given the recent performances, a two-week break is probably just what the club needs! Still time to change things round but it's got to happen in the next month or two - next five games are Villa, Burnley, Swansea, Sunderland and West Ham. No more excuses, we have to pick up a few wins from these games.
2 Posted 06/10/2014 at 08:58:20
We've got arrogance, but unfortunately it's arrogance to make silly decisions.
3 Posted 06/10/2014 at 09:40:54
Fucking Lukaku needs to sort his shit out too cause we have forked out big time and he needs to repay us. Also I’d like to know why our players are going down like sacks of shit Ã‚â€“ we are only 2 months in. Something isn’t right and it needs fixing. I don’t know yet whether to blame pre-season (like others) or not.
4 Posted 06/10/2014 at 09:24:24
The lack of attacking intensity is the major concern.
Is it because the power (Barkley) and the pace (Coleman, Mirallas) are missing and game plans have been re-adjusted to a more cautious approach?
Or is it a misreading by the players of playing with "arrogance". The word carries pejorative nuances of disrespect and contempt. Does this explain the apathetic approach to closing down the opposition?
It is often too easy to target individual players after a defeat. However, questions have to be asked about Howard. Good reaction saves are then nullified by gross errors. Nearly every goal against us this season (and quite a few last season) can be put down to mistakes of one kind or another by the goalkeeper Ã‚â€“ the key position in any team. Time for a closer look at Robles?
We now have time to re-group and work on tactics, "soft tissue" injuries, and the ever decreasing confidence of Lukaku.
We are, after all, top of our difficult Europa League group and favourites to go through.
5 Posted 06/10/2014 at 10:47:29
The problem we have is our first 11 (which in my eyes is: Howard, Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Baines, Mirallas, Barry, McCarthy (or Besic), Naismith, Barkley, & Lukaku) can beat any team put in front of them. We can survive with one of those out injured, possibly two at a maximum... but five of them like we currently have out injured and we have absolutely no chance at all. Our squad is not good enough I'm afraid.
6 Posted 06/10/2014 at 11:17:54
I can't agree, however, with Lyndon's statement "Martinez named a highly-capable starting XI". Capable of what?? An Everton side playing away to Man Utd has to be at its best to come away with anything. An Everton side with an unfit Tony Hibbert and unfit Steven Pienaar in it? We never really looked capable in the game. Similar to the RS game, we could have sneaked a point.
Lukaku didn't look like the player you are going to hang your hat on for the winning goal. He should have torn the young McNair to pieces, but he never looked like he would. McGeady isn't unlocking defences and everything seems to go backwards or sideways from him. Besic actually looked composed on the ball but the midfield looked short of ideas going forward.
I'm really not sold on having TWO defensive midfielders in the team. I have to ask WHY? It certainly isn't getting us clean sheets. At least one of those midfielders needs to have licence to get forward and get a sight at goal. This is more evident with Barkley not being in the team.
We miss Barkley. We miss Coleman. We miss Mirallas, We miss McCarthy. We WILL miss Stones.
I also have to add; what has happened to Tim Howard? I'm thinking of petitioning for another change to the club badge: we should include a USA flag on there Ã‚â€“ that way, Tim might actually put in top performances like he did during the World Cup!
100% wins against Villa, Burnley and Swansea required. 9 pts is a must now. We have lost to Palace at home and Man Utd away. Last season we drew and won respectively. I don't get too hung up by those types of things but I see the next five games and I should see five wins. In reality I'm not sure that will happen.
In short, I'm worried about the whole team, from goalie, defence, midfield and upfront. We have issues right through the team. Martinez has his work cut out to get wins on the board from what he has to choose from.
On a good note, it was good to see Browning and Besic looking composed on the ball. And Pienaar looked good on the ball, albeit he tired towards the end.
7 Posted 06/10/2014 at 14:54:06
Letting Shane Duffy go looks like a bad move now.
8 Posted 06/10/2014 at 08:40:35
Howard is becoming a big problem. He's costing us goals and inspires no confidence.
But we played some good stuff second half, great move for Ossie's chance for example. Mirallas, McCarthy, Coleman and Barkley are massive losses. The last two would get into Chelsea or Man City's first teams and all four would be good enough for Arsenal, the Shite or Man Utd.
9 Posted 06/10/2014 at 16:52:14
Why is it that a player who was so full of energy and determination last season becomes a bored passenger this season? It shocked me that Eto'o wasn't brought on for the last 20 minutes against Man Utd. I thought Lukaku was going to injure his jaw yawning.
10 Posted 06/10/2014 at 18:17:05
He seems to be in danger of giving away so many free kicks and of being booked and possibly sent off that he is ceasing to be the rock of last year and becoming a liability.
11 Posted 06/10/2014 at 18:46:18
We've played well in some games (Arsenal, Leicester) without getting our just rewards. The team now appear to have lost confidence and this is something Roberto has to fix ASAP.
I still think we will go on a good run and be in the top 8 by December.
12 Posted 06/10/2014 at 19:16:35
I think they showed exactly what they were capable of when they actually took the game to United Ã‚â€“ won a penalty with their first decent move of the match, scored a fine equaliser and forced two world-class saves from De Gea in injury time.
Had we attacked like that for even twice the amount of time we did, we would have won. There's a difference between the potential of the line-up chosen and the manner in which they went about their business.
13 Posted 06/10/2014 at 22:20:13
This year, neither are performing the same. I'm sure I saw a stat about Howard's saves-to-shots ratio. Last year, it was over 70% Ã‚â€“ this year it is under 40%. That stat is shocking.
I have a small amount of sympathy with Lukaku being played on the wing Ã‚â€“ first we had Moyes playing Anichebe there, now we have Martinez playing Lukaku there. Why can't they see that players who weigh over 14 stone are hardly going to whizz up and down the wing all day?
That said, I feel Lukaku needs a rocket. The fans' reaction to him of late may just give him that. He's now got 2 weeks to stew over yesterday's game. I hope we see the real him against Villa.
But certainly, if Howard and Lukaku don't improve, we are in for a long season.
14 Posted 07/10/2014 at 02:03:01
His supporters defended him by saying he scored goals and made a difference which was fair enough, but don't run away with the idea that he performed like that Costa guy at Chelski. Anything but.
15 Posted 07/10/2014 at 04:24:01
In Jagielka, we have a captain that shows little in the way of leadership on the pitch. Did he not learn from Captain Pip?
I don't understand why we played Hibbert and Pienaar from the start and to not have Chris Long or McAleny in contention. Nice to see Browning coming through.
Atsu had half a game in Russia so why not another run out at Man Utd? The kid needs match practice and games. Its not like he has no ability?
McGeady, for all the trickery and other bullshit, can't get the ball across to at least give Lukaku a chance to get involved. Maybe after a slow start we can start picking up a few wins. A 20-game unbeaten run would suffice.
Joel Robles just how bad a keeper can he be? Distin will be back so maybe the rest will have done him good. Coleman and McCarthy to return hopefully pairing up with Besic and resting Barry.
16 Posted 07/10/2014 at 15:58:01
The police have confirmed that NO soft tissue injuries have been reported from the Martinez household.
17 Posted 07/10/2014 at 17:02:44
19 Posted 08/10/2014 at 12:29:19
20 Posted 08/10/2014 at 14:20:09
In 2012-13 season:-
We drew 0-0 at home to Arsenal (drew 2-2 this season)
We lost 1-2 at home to Chelsea (lost 3-6 this season)
We lost 2-0 at WBA (won 0-2 this season)
We drew 0-0 away at LFC (drew 1-1 this season)
We lost 2-0 away at Man Utd (lost 2-1 this season)
Went out of the League Cup to Leeds United (lost to Swansea this season)
It's difficult to compare the Leicester and Crystal Palace league games.
If you compare Leicester with Reading and Crystal Palace with Norwich then:-
We lost 1-2 away at Reading (drew 2-2 with Leicester this season)
We drew 1-1 with Norwich (lost 3-2 to Crystal Palace this season)
With those equivalent matches we are actually 3 points better off than we were in 2012-13 when we finished 6th.
With the amount of doom-and-gloom at the minute amongst fellow Blues, you would think that we had earned 21 points from those 7 games in years gone by.
21 Posted 08/10/2014 at 14:41:56
We have 6 points from 7 games, it has fuck all to do with "what Moyes did?"
That was two seasons ago. What are the corresponding scores from last season?
I know for certain we are 8 points down alone from the Chelsea, Man Utd and Arsenal games.
22 Posted 08/10/2014 at 14:59:56
I could do an analysis on how the 1899 team's results compare to this season's....
23 Posted 08/10/2014 at 15:08:30
25 Posted 08/10/2014 at 15:51:11
26 Posted 08/10/2014 at 15:50:27
He is the past, nothing more to do with us and the only comparison that should be made is of last season, not the one before.
I am a pessimist but end up arguing against people on here who jump on the x,y & z are shite bandwagon but too, just think it was a bad example there fella.
27 Posted 08/10/2014 at 15:57:56
Last season seemed an exception where we did well against the Sky darlings. That's been what our recent decent league placings have been based on: results against the likes of West Ham, Fulham, Sunderland, Stoke, Villa etc. at home. Sorry, I had to mention our old manager but I deliberately excluded our current manager because I think last season was an exception.
I'm sure that, once we get a decent run of games at home and some momentum going, then we'll improve. I always thought talk of a top 4 placing was optimistic though.
I see us finishing between 7th and 10th. If we crash out of the Europa League then we'll do better. We're similar to Swansea last season.
28 Posted 08/10/2014 at 16:06:24
I'm intrigued by the statement re Distin, surely if he threw objects at the manager's house and other acts of vandalism, he should be sacked not sent home for 2 weeks.If the story is true, how can he possibly work with Martinez again?
Distin always struck me as a reasonable fellow, I know he went up to a fan once but that was to try to explain the players were not losing games deliberately and asking for fans to support the team. These stories are not going away so the club need to let people know what is going on here.
We will need Distin with Stones out for 2 months and God help us if Jags gets injured in the next 2 weeks. I had consoled myself that, if Baines got injured, at least we had Baby Bryan back... but he is off for another operation. Oh Joy.
29 Posted 08/10/2014 at 16:13:55
Still... only rumours... and Distin's never been one to throw his toys out of the pram (not in public anyway) and at 37, I cannot imagine him throwing a fit at being 'rested'. He can't expect to play every game at 37, surely.
Or maybe he was pissed off that he was the one being dropped and not Jags?
30 Posted 08/10/2014 at 16:19:31
I may be going out on a limb here, but something about the way Les relayed his story suggests that Distin didn't REALLY go all 'Straw Dogs' on Bobby's house with half a crate of semi-skimmed.
Even if he did try pulling off such a fantastically foil topped, pasteurised protest, given the Frenchman's recent form, every bottle would probably ricochet right back smack bang into his own bollocks.
Would Milk Man Distin dare risk having to creep home to the wife and explain away creamy stains splattered round the crotchal region of his kecks again?
31 Posted 08/10/2014 at 16:47:33
You never know what goes on behind closed doors but something is definitely amiss at present; the club is not a happy camp.
I just can't see Distin doing this, others I could so not sure what is going on.
32 Posted 08/10/2014 at 16:39:45
33 Posted 08/10/2014 at 16:52:53
There has, allegedly, been a falling out but the whole 'throwing bottle's at Bobby's back door' bit was clearly just a joke by Les. The whole 'burying the kids under compost' part was a bluff too, so (don't worry) the coroners won't be getting called in any time soon.
The rumour doing the (non-milk) rounds is much more mundane: Martinez pulling up Distin about some of his poor defensive play. Distin not taking too kindly to the criticism and storming off in a strop. Told to stay away from training until he sorts his head out.
I wouldn't worry about it too much. Even if true, I can't see the situation persisting. Martinez is a diplomat and Distin is a professional. Surely, he won't want to be seen as letting his teammates down when he's one of the last men left standing. Nor, can he want to spend any of his shortening shelf life as a professional footballer parked on his arse in the stands.
34 Posted 08/10/2014 at 17:16:29
I know there's nothing going on for a few weeks... let's start another rumour!
35 Posted 08/10/2014 at 17:07:44
36 Posted 08/10/2014 at 17:34:43
Given all the goals we were leaking, I hate to think Roberto singled out Distin for blame.
37 Posted 08/10/2014 at 17:37:30
I have to be discrete here so as not to expose my source, but I can say there was some kicking off water bottles etc by the manager whilst he was watching training from the sidelines, and then words and gestures exchanged between the two of them, followed by some afters from Baines.
Distin was told to go home and cool off, and has only returned to Finch Farm this morning. Bobby was like a bear with a sore head for a few days afterwards,understandingly. They need to get it sorted ASAP.
38 Posted 09/10/2014 at 13:29:35
Any hopes of taking maximum points from Villa, Burnley & Swansea seem a bit optimistic to me when the team lacks so many key players and is obviously devoid of confidence. I think Lukaku rides the wave when the team plays with confidence, if the team gets its mojo back, so will he. Just a cautionary note, Roberto is in familiar territory now just above the relegation places...maybe he needs a defensive coach?
39 Posted 10/10/2014 at 09:52:03
We will have to agree to disagree with this one.
As you have said, we mounted our first meaningful attack on 45 mins Ã‚â€“ which led to the penalty. We then put up a fist of it in the closing stages.... not exactly Christmas was it?
As I alluded to in my post, it's just like the derby draw; it's painting over the cracks. The performance wasn't good enough. The starting line-up wasn't capable. It didn't strike fear into Man Utd.
It comes down to the fact that there is not enough strength in depth in the squad.
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