EVERTON VS MANCHESTER UNITED
20.04.2014

Moyes took United to Everton, his former club, with the fortunes of the two sides not where they were expected to have been at the start of the season. However, the hope amongst United supporters was that Moyes would fire his players up to keep alive the slim hopes of Champions League qualification.

PERSONNEL

In: Mata, Nani, Buttner and Evans.
Out: Welbeck, Vidic, Evra and Valencia.

KEY POINTS

  • When Everton had the ball United sat off them, allowing them space to attack. True Everton played on the counter but United played right into their hands.
  • Rooney had another poor game. Is his injury the real reason for recent poor form?
  • Passing was not inquisitive enough; Kagawa often moved into a channel but was never found.
  • Despite dominating the passing statistics United appeared to have no idea in the final third; Kagawa apart, no one filled the space left when Rooney dropped.
  • Buttner was too exposed, both Coleman and Miralles rinsed the space on the left hand side
  • There will be no Champions League football next season for United.

FIRST HALF

United started the game having a great deal of possession, connected in shape and positioning, good we thought, but it quickly became apparent that this wasn’t due to United’s dominance and putting Everton on a Barca type ‘carousel’, rather Everton sat back and invited United to attack them. The impotency in the final third was disturbing as United were unable to turn the possession, shape and positioning into goals. United didn’t know how to; not unfamiliar in this season under Moyes.

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Everton utilised the long ball more effectively than United and through it, took the lead. United gave away too much space, as can be seen by how far back Evans stepped off Lukaku in the image below, and this lack of pressure allowed Everton to play with their head up and dictate play.

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Were United in this game? No, Mata and Kagawa were keeping tabs with Rooney but when he dropped deep the space he’d vacated was rarely occupied. Kagawa on the odd occasion slipped between Distin and Baines but was never picked out. Moyes could be seen gesticulating to get the ball beyond the defence but United’s players were unable to!

Nani meanwhile, the other attacker remained detached, not forming part of United’s compact shape high up the pitch. Was this to address Baines’ forays? Hardly, Nani is not the man to rely on for such a job. Whatever the ambition the shape played into Everton’s hands, affording their fullbacks the opportunity to push on. Everton enjoyed more success on their right hand side with Miralles and Coleman who were effective together splitting Buttner by working inside and out.

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Lessons weren’t learnt as Everton went 2-0 up; this was minging and the players were performing awfully. The defence had little shape, particularly when recovering to their defensive block following the regression from defence to attack. Below shows the build up to Everton’s second and see how deep Naismith, the second striker/attacking midfielder, picked the ball up from. He was allowed to run before pushing the ball out wide, to the exposed Buttner yet there wasn’t tremendous movement from Everton to trick United it was just a lack of desire to close the space. Kagawa needs to be drilled, that in this league you have to tackle with 100% commitment, his pulling out of a challenge was how United lost the ball leading to this goal.

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SECOND HALF

There was no change in the tempo of the game from both sides. Everton comfortably contained United’s attacking intent, i.e., Rooney, and were often seen with a two man defence, even with the solid Distin replaced by Alcaraz.

United were incapable of dealing with the counter and were committing too many forward thus being caught short on the transition.

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Moyes made changes, Valencia, Welbeck and Hernandez on for Evans, Nani and Kagawa. This yielded no results. Smalling is no right back yet Valencia made no impact in this position following the change either. Welbeck and Hernandez injected pace; should they have been preferred over Nani and Rooney?

CONCLUSION

Collective responsibility; the key words in Moyes’ now short tenure as United’s manager.

moyes-everton

Moyes struggled yet his team didn’t play to the best of their capabilities. In this game they were outfought and positionally were amateur. The heavy possession reeked of an unsuccessful Arsenal side. This isn’t exclusive to Moyes, we saw it occasionally under Sir Alex but you feel that for this to change under Moyes then major changes had to be made. Did he have it in him to make the right calls? We’ll never know. With this defeat Champions League football was officially out of United’s reach and as a result next season’s team will be set for a major overhaul. Yet with Moyes’ sacking questions remain over whether that’s necessary as this game stank of players not playing for their manager. The fullness of time will tell us why.