Sunday 21 January 2018

Rumours of Marouane Fellaini's rebirth grossly exaggerated - Five things we learned from United's defeat at Everton

Manchester United star flops in Goodison Park hammering

Manchester United's Marouane Fellaini looks dejected during the Barclays Premier League match at Goodison Park
Manchester United's Marouane Fellaini looks dejected during the Barclays Premier League match at Goodison Park

Chris Bascombe

Manchester United flopped at Goodison Park yesterday as the wheels came right off their recent mini-revival. Here are five things we learned from Everton v Manchester United.

Rumours of Marouane Fellaini brings back bad memories of last season as Man Utd are well beaten on Merseyside

Footballers love rewriting history, and the entirety of last season has been revised on Marouane Fellaini’s behalf recently. He’s played better for Manchester United lately, but stop pretending he was anything but hopeless a year ago, or has gone anywhere close to validating his £27.5m fee.

Would United recoup that outlay now? His return to Goodison started badly as he missed a sitter on six minutes, and was then booked for fouling Ross Barkley. He was subbed after 45 minutes, but we should hesitate before saying how bad he was. No doubt we’ll be reminded it was all a mirage the next time he plays well.

Jonny Evans, left, maintains he did not spit at Papiss Cisse, right

Where was Jonny Evans?

Jonny Evans’ six match ban was effectively extended by Louis Van Gaal. The Northern Irishman was available again did not even make the bench. It was a show of faith in Paddy McNair, but does not bode well for Evans’ long-term prospects under the Dutchman.

The 27-year-old is out of contract at the end of next season, and with United expected to add another centre-half in the summer Evans might find himself struggling to get within spitting distance of the first team.

Manchester United's Michael Carrick has signed a new one-year deal

Michael Carrick gets better every time he misses a game

 Michael Carrick’s reputation has soared to such an extent, he could earn additional votes in the Ballon D’or poll every time he misses a game. The midfielder has become United’s most important player – a transformative personality. When he is playing, United look a team on the rise.

When he is absent, as he was here, the fluency and understanding of Louis Van Gaal’s system takes the afternoon off with him. Daley Blind needs to study videos of Carrick more closely.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez welcomes Burnley to Goodison this weekend

Martinez has not completely binned the Moyes blueprint

Roberto Martinez has been acclaimed for restoring an attacking style to Goodison Park, but he is not averse to mixing it up tactically when it is demanded and he outwitted Louis Van Gaal.

Everton played on United’s lack of cutting edge to sit deep and wait for their moments on the counter-attack, a ploy that worked expertly in the build-up to James McCarthy’s opening goal. It’s the marriage of old-fashioned defensive grit with a dash of artistry upfront that brings out the best in Martinez’s side. The balance has been lacking too much this season, but the strategy was implemented to perfection here.

James McCarthy opens the scoring for Everton against Man United’s David de Gea

Everton must resist all offers for their new holy trinity

In James McCarthy, John Stones and Ross Barkley, Everton possess an exciting trio that is the envy of the Premier League. All have been linked with moves away, but by keeping the young heart of the squad together greater things can be achieved at Goodison Park in the near future.

McCarthy was outstanding once more, and Stones as accomplished as ever at the back - but Barkley also gave a more mature display, his ball retention and decision making improving as this season has progressed. The frustration for Evertonians is they’ve witnessed the most accomplished performance of the campaign so late on, but it bodes well for next season.

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