Manchester United got a league win at Old Trafford for the first time since the opening round after they beat Everton 2-1 with the goals coming from Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial for the Red Devils and Gyilfi Sigurdsson for the Toffees. Contributing writer, Nathan Quao, monitored proceedings and took note a few things.
Martial’s The Man
The French winger looks like the one to deliver the goods for the Red Devils these days and he enhanced his reputation with another good display.
After a slow and uncertain start, he warmed up and started to ask questions of the visitors.
The answers did not come immediately but he kept probing and he got a foul from Kurt Zouma that was given as a penalty. To be fair, it looked really soft but the process leading to the decision was important to note and Martial himself must start to see what he can do and the problems he can give opponents.
His goal (which was assisted by Paul Pogba) was a lovely strike and it underlined an unpredictability that he must use more often.
Of course, there are things to improve and the failure to put away two gilt-edged chances late in the game prove that more work is needed to refine these skills.
But four goals in three games point to a simple truth: self-application, hard work and consistency are the tools that will put a player into something very important for a team.
Another fair display from Fred
The team’s new Brazilian midfielder has been out of the team for a while but against Everton, he gave watchers more reasons to hope that he can offer more in the season.
He was brave but unlike his previous games, his tackles were not rash but rather guided and subtle. He was an opening for his other midfielders and his energy moved the ball vertically to Man United’s advantage.
He is showing that he can work well with his team-mates and the manager must find a way of making him a very asset with regard to the league campaign.
Of course, his durability must improve because if the likes of Matic and Pogba and are holding their own in central midfield and the opposition is leaving gaps to exploit, Fred seems to have the ability to drive forwards and make things happen.
Such spaces only emerge late in games and he must build himself to be ready for such times.
Errors are worryingly still alive
Despite the victory, there were blots on the copy book and errors and mistakes were very apparent. To start with, these errors cost the team another clean sheet and that only strengthens the notion that Man United cannot stop the opposition from scoring.
The errors allowed Everton a way back into the game and there was a huge risk that the visitors could snatch a point back to Goodison Park.
Paul Pogba’s attempted scoop pass to a marked Juan Mata was not the best decision to make at the time and that started the sequence that placed Richarlyson in the penalty box.
The bigger error was on the part of the Chris Smalling who jumped straight into the challenge on the Brazilian whereas David De Gea had his angles covered and Richarlyson had nowhere to go.
Simplicity, they say, is genius and the players must understand this at all times. Mistakes in other games (vs Wolves, vs Chelsea, vs Brighton) have been costly and there should be a way of reminding the players of these elements and the very strong danger they pose every time there is a league match to be played.
Already, Man United are a long way off the top. There is no need to deepen the trench and hamper the climb out of problems.