THE MANCHESTER United squad, complete with the man so notorious, only initials are necessary; RVP, rolled into Goodison park last night to take on Everton. It seems like five minutes since the blue side of Merseyside had dealt United the fatal blow in the title chase. At the end of that game, we scratched our heads and asked, very seriously, what just happened? How could that happen?
Months on from that, we return and say gloriously and as seriously as ever…. Thank Eric we don’t have to play them again for a while.
Everton are very good at suiting the style of play to the talent then can afford to bring to the club at that moment. In times gone by it seemed like the order was to get the ball to Duncan Ferguson by any means necessary, maybe sometimes for Duncan to keep hold of it or get his head to it by any means necessary. If they have passers, they’ll pass it, if they have pace, they’ll run and if they have a big lad who can stick his head on it and get you a goal then that’s the key to success. Once they have broken through, they will shut up shop and defend with the unity of eleven players and one or two Merseytravel busses.
It’s always nice to see ex reds Neville P, Timothy and Gibbo doing well. Neville will run through walls for Everton and Darron Gibson is benefiting from playing in the team consistently. It’s good for him and it’s very good for Everton when you remember that he hasn’t been on the losing side since he made his debut for them.
For Manchester United, Antonio Valencia and Michael Carrick will do valiant jobs for us in defence when called upon but the sooner we don’t need them there the better we will be. Tony Hibbert had Patrice Evra on toast when he attempted to make inroads, and we still had no answer to the questions asked by Fellaini. Santa Claus was just about warming up the last time Nemanja Vidic laced up boots in anger so he’ll do better with competitive action under his belt, not even Vidic is good enough to be defensively everywhere at once.
Shinji Kagawa is worthy of note. On a night when Everton strangled the space and United generally lacked incision, he bucked the trend once or twice with clever passes and quick play, he involved himself well. He was, dare we say, almost Scholes like (as Scholes like as someone who isn’t Scholes can be). One or two glimpses do not make a star however, and we’ll see how he goes for the rest of the month.
A year on and David De Gea stands in goal as one of the most analyzed goalkeepers in the history of goalkeeping analysis (it started, y’know, proper early when shops had ye olde in their names). He made one or two decent saves last night and deserves credit. If he is going to continue to refuse to catch the ball and instead opt to punch out into a crowded penalty area, then all you can ask is that he is on hand to save the shot on target that will almost inevitably follow; which he did, mostly, special thanks go to the woodwork.
As we take the pointless start, grasp the positives and try not to get too dramatic over the negatives, there was one class fan moment last night. As Robin Van Persie stood on the sidelines poised to make his United debut, a United fan stood and uttered the words; It doesn’t seem real, it’s just like watching FIFA!”
Now we have to move on and get some points on the board. For the new boys, the Theatre of Dreams and Stetford End hero worship awaits. It’s not FIFA, it’s real life. These are the men charged with the task of making it TWENTY.