James McCarthy is vital in Everton’s midfield
Everton’s Champions League bid suffered a heavy blow on Wednesday night when they went down 3-2 to a hard working Crystal Palace side at Goodison Park. There seemed to be a lack of balance in Everton’s midfield and a lack of energy. That was until James McCarthy came on and Everton won the remaining 30 minutes of the game 2-1. The Manchester United match, however, was a different story. James McCarthy was immense in Everton’s midfield, winning tackles and helping build attacks. Wherever the ball was, McCarthy was not far away. It is impossible to underestimate the work he does for this Everton team and yesterday it really stood out. Gareth Barry has gone on to describe McCarthy as “one of the best midfield players I have ever played with” and this is truly a compliment of the highest order.
Manchester United are already on holiday
On the flip side to the tireless work in the Everton midfield, Manchester United’s was dour and lethargic. Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher were composed enough on the ball, but off it they just did not have the intensity to deal with Everton’s pace and power. Nani and Juan Mata were particularly unimpressive. The lack of creativity and energy from these supposedly “world-class” players was shocking. After going 1-0 down you would expect a Manchester United team to come back and really push for an equaliser, this was not the case. Everton swiftly went 2-0 up and cruised for the rest of the game. Even with attacking substitutions by Moyes, bringing on Valencia, Welbeck and Hernandez, United never really pushed to get back into the game. This is so uncharacteristic of a Manchester United team and this is surely a major reason why they are guaranteed their worst ever Premier League finish. This lack of desire yesterday has to be worrying for all Manchester United fans.
Lukaku may not be the man to solve Everton’s long-term striker problems
As prolific as Romelu Lukaku has been for Everton this season, hitting 13 Premier League goals, he often goes missing in the big games. We saw this again yesterday with a very lacklustre performance from the big man. We have seen Lukaku put in good performances in the 3-0 win over Arsenal and the 3-3 draw with Liverpool, but apart from that in the games against the top sides he has often gone missing. Yesterday he was employed as a target man by Roberto Martinez. The ball was regularly played into him; however, his first touch was not up to scratch all game. More often than not, Lukaku gave the ball away with heavy first touches and misplaced passes. As explosive as Lukaku can be, if Chelsea really are demanding £25 million, this money could be spent better by a team with Everton’s financial restrictions. Loic Remy or Wilfried Bony seem more viable options (based on price) and could also prove to be more prolific goal scorers.
Manchester United must invest in their defence
This time last season, Manchester United were almost certainly champions of England, however, with an aging defence and a prolific strike force it seemed obvious where should be strengthened in the summer. David Moyes, on the other hand, decided to invest in his midfield with £27 million Marouanne Fellaini and £37 million Juan Mata. Yesterday, it was clear for all to see that the defence is a huge issue for Manchester United. Johnny Evans has been mentioned as the next generation at United for too long, he has not improved significantly and once again yesterday struggled against a fast, strong attacking line up. The same can be said about Phil Jones, a man who had been labelled a potential Manchester united great. His problem is that he has been played in too many positions. David Moyes needs to talk to Jones, choose one position and train Jones specifically to play there, as there is no doubting the potential that is still there in Jones. Smalling is not a natural right back, though is consistently played there as Rafael can be spotted as a weak link by opponents and Buttner at left back had a torrid time all game against Kevin Mirallas and Seamus Coleman. The defence is crying out for an experienced leader, which they will not have when Vidic leaves. The obvious man to bring in is Matts Hummels of Borussia Dormtnund, but with no European football looking likely, this standard of player wil become hard to attract.
The grass isn’t always greener
As Everton went 2-0 up a chorus of “stuck with Moyes, Man Utd” rang around Goodison Park yesterday afternoon. After leaving Everton for Manchester United last summer, David Moyes has seen a 38 point swing in Everton’s favour against United since this time last term. This includes only 6 Premier League defeats for Everton and a record 11 for United. As well as Everton’s first league double over United since 1970 (a title winning campaign for the blues). Moyes left for what was perceived to be a better team, however, has its obvious flaws which have become apparent this season. He left behind a young, technical, hungry side for Roberto Martinez which could end up being a mistake. With Malcolm Glazer’s son present at Sunday’s match, Moyes has to be a little worried. After suffering such a damaging defeat against a team that he should know inside and out could this season spell the end of Moyes’ Manchester adventure? I for one certainly would not be surprised. To get United back to where they belong, it will require investment. With a reported £200 million war-chest to spend this summer, would the Glazers trust Moyes to spend that sort of money wisely? With his past transfer record at Manchester United, notably the £27 million for Fellaini, a new manager could be the direction United wish to go in to get back to the summit of English football.