1. What we wanted to see today was a reaction to last weekend’s disaster. A 1-0 win at Goodison Park, a ground we haven’t won at since 2007, is a good result. Of course we all wanted to see United come out and rip Everton apart, the way we did Bolton and Arsenal earlier this season, but that isn’t necessarily a realistic expectation. We got the three points, we put distance between ourselves and the teams below us and you can’t ask for much more than that.
2. The players put in a more professional performance today and made sure De Gea was better protected. It was alarming to learn last week that we’re up there with the teams who have allowed the most shots on their goal. Today, any efforts that did get through were straight at our keeper, who seems to grow in confidence every game. He picked the ball out of his net six times last weekend, none of those goals his fault, so it was nice for him as much as anyone that we kept a clean sheet today.
3. Whilst of course we can congratulate De Gea on stopping Everton from scoring, we should not ignore the impact of Nemanja Vidic, easily the Man of the Match, who was there to sweep up any problem that came his way. Him being fit this season could make the difference between us winning the league and us not. He steadies the players around him and will go toe to toe with any opposition striker. It’s great to have him back in the team.
4. For the first 35 minutes though, the player on the receiving end of most of our praise, was Tom Cleverley. The temptation is to get carried away and lost in celebrating this fantastic youngster of ours. Our passing was crisper and faster today, we were moving the ball around with much more urgency and looked more in control of midfield than we have in a while. Can we credit Cleverley, who did play well, with this? It lasted for about 35 minutes until Everton grew in confidence and came back at us for the last 10 minutes of the half. Unfortunately, he only lasted ten minutes after the break though and United were second best for most of the second half. Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed his injury is nothing serious, just a tight hamstring, and he will be back in action next weekend.
5. Chicharito’s offsides puzzle me. Before his goal, the ball must have come through to him three or four times and he was offside every time. Is this necessary? I’m sure he will be faster than any defender he comes up against, so why play so close to the shoulder all the time? He could be a yard or two onside and he would probably get to the ball first. I don’t mean to whinge, he’s scoring important goals for us all the time, I just think he’s selling himself short by denying himself, and the team, opportunities to score more by failing to pay attention to where the defensive back line is. It was great positioning for his goal today and a top cross from Patrice Evra.
6. There was a lot of fuss about Jonny Evans ahead of kick-off, with some fans claiming they wished he was on the end of a three match ban following his sending off last weekend, rather than just the one game suspension which he served midweek. There were still a couple of errors, one which lead to Vidic heading our for a corner before tearing a strip off him, but he did alright today. I’m sure Chris Smalling would have got the nod ahead of him if he was fit, but what is more newsworthy is the absence of Rio Ferdinand. The manager is suggesting he is more angry at Rio for not taking control of our defence in injury time last weekend than he is at Evans for getting sent off. What does this mean for Rio’s United future?