Same old same old as the Red Devil‘s struggles against a defensive set up in Everton, who grabbed their goal from a mix up between De Gea and Lindelof. Greenwood managed to grab one back with a great finish yet the come back wasn’t able to be completed and fizzled out, resulting in a draw.
As much as was made of the impact that the English international in the two games vs Tottenham and Man City, it is in the games alike today that the proper presence of a 10 is seen more than ever. Today, Lingard played in the hole, responsible for linking the midfield and attack yet after a bright start in the game, he fell back into the poor pattern, which pushed him out the team. If it wasn’t picking the right passes, the passes that were given to him, some admittedly fizzed in too strong, he took a poor touch. Even the runs in behind to stretch the Everton defence were neither smart or aggressive, so ultimately he became a ghost in the game. Pogba not playing today was as more apparent as it has been in recent times as the extra guile in the final third to break down deep rearguards was missing. It isn’t helped by the lack of service he gets from all angles, particularly deeper areas, but Lingard’s lack of ball reception is an issue when we try to move through the thirds.
Straight balls to no one
It has been a feature of our games that our build up has been too slow whenever the opposition has decided to set up in lower blocks. Today, the centre backs in Maguire and Lindelof were going back to front quicker than usual as they knew that the strength lay in the speed of our attacks rather than our intricacies in combination play so opportunities to get in behind were the avenues. The problem was the fact that they were neither angled or given to players when there were qualitative or quantitative overloads for us to exploit. This was particularly an issue with Maguire, often tried to look for Rashford but his balls often floated out for throw ins or back to the feet of the opposition. Fred offered passing options for the centre backs but it was often too deep and with little connection to the rest of the team so it was often a useless pass to make the in roads past Everton’s defensive block.
The strength that the Scotsman gives us whenever we do not have the lion share of possession is obvious as his ability to break up play and progress into open spaces with the ball at his feet is clear. But as a United midfielder, the bulk of what you are judged and praises on is what you give when you have to break down the smaller teams. McTominay offers far too little in that regard and today was one of his more disappointing showings as he gave the ball away and passed sideways when a more sure footed player would have given the ball to our attackers in dangerous areas. His place in the team may even come under threat if Fred continues to play as he has done, including today where he was arguably the best player on the pitch, and Pogba returns from injury.