Everton fully deserved their 3-1 victory – no argument whatsoever.
The whole Manchester United team looked tired, especially in the second half. The pace of the game definitely slowed compared to the first half. In previous seasons United have occasionally suffered a Champions League hangover and was probably why we lacked energy in the important midfield area. No doubt Everton are a very good team but should a team with the experience of United playing Champions League and Premier League football at the climax of a season still suffer Champions League hangover? I find that disappointing to be honest. I don’t mind losing to the better team on the day, it was the drop of energy levels as we reach the home run of the domestic season that was the real worry for me.
For me, the game turned after Berbatov was substituted. Why was Berbatov substituted I’m not sure? He was our best player and we had some sort of control of the game with Berbatov holding the ball up front. Once Berbatov came off we switched to the 4-3-3 formation which has worked so well in recent games, obviously less so yesterday. The game totally changed, Everton started to dominate and looked the more threatening team. I said to a mate just before Everton scored that you can see Everton scoring here. Berbatov took his goal very well, great control & first touch and his finish wasn’t too bad either.
Rooney was very poor yesterday. He looked tired and his first touch was poor. Perhaps the occasion of playing against his boyhood club mentally got to Rooney? Whatever the reason, every player is allowed a poor game so I hope there isn’t an over-reaction to Rooney’s performance.
The defence were simply awful, with perhaps Gary Neville being the best of a bad bunch. Where was the organisation? No where! At times Everton were walking through our defence. Jonny Evans’ form has definitely dipped in the last two games, when he returned from injury earlier this year he looked our best defender. There was talk of him replacing Rio or Vidic as a permanent starter in central defence but not in his current form. Rodwell virtually walked past Evans for Everton’s third goal. Like Rafael against AC Milan I don’t want to be too harsh on Evans. Evans is young, inconsistent performances are to be expected.
Alongside Rooney and Fletcher, Evra has been one of our best players. I feel Evra really needs a breather now; he has been our one constant defender all season however his form in recent weeks has dipped. West Ham on Tuesday at home is a perfect opportunity to rest Evra. Fabio injured himself during the reserve match against Everton, I’m not sure of his availability? If Fabio is unavailable I would start with Ritchie De Laet. I saw De Laet play in a pre-season friendly against Valencia and he was very impressive, bombing forward and dribbling past defenders. Also, he is a tough tackler.
After building up Obertan in a previous blog (https://www.stretfordendarising.com/blog/2010/02/19/future-prospect-2-gabriel-obertan/), he had little impact once he came on for Park. Obertan deserved his chance after a superb performance against Everton reserves. At the moment, Obertan looks a confidence player. He looks very nervous when playing for first team whilst in the reserves he plays with a strut, in the reserves you can visibly see his confidence. He has yet to show the same strut in the first team but when he does settle I’m still certain he will be a top player for us.
In conclusion, yesterday was really a poor day for us. Everton are by no means a pushover as they have recently beat the current top three teams. However, a loss is still a poor result at this stage of the season and with Chelsea beating Wolves they now have a four point lead in the title race.
With only eleven games remaining we have to bounce back well. I’m pleased we have a game so soon (Tuesday) after defeat. It will allow to get the defeat against Everton out of the system.