Everton 3 Man United 0: Three talking points
Three talking points as Everton are emphatic 3-0 winners against Manchester United at Goodison Park
Everton’s form is coming at the wrong time of the season
With five wins from their last six league fixtures, the form of the side from the blue half of Merseyside is only bettered by Chelsea and Arsenal. Having finished fifth in their first season until Roberto Martinez, Everton have experienced the football equivalent of the difficult second album syndrome and have occupied the lower half of the table for the majority of the season. Trips to far flung places for Thursday night football has not helped the Toffees cause however, but this season has been an underachievement after such pre-season promise. Everton’s third successive win over Manchester United at Goodison Park, and completing the double over their opponents in the process, shows the blip in form appears to be over. It will be a shame for the Evertonian faithful that there are just four games remaining and a possible highest place finish of eighth. Their change in fortune directly correlates with their exit from the Europa League. Without this distraction next season, Everton should be back on course to challenge for the European spots once again.
Van Gaal must face up to Man United’s deficiencies
If Louis van Gaal’s post-match comments after the loss to Chelsea were heavily scrutinised, one can only expect the column inches to be filled with fall-out from the latest loss. Manchester United had won six Premier League games in succession before two losses to teams clad in royal blue but the team does not look the settled unit of previous incarnations. Unwavering in his own ability, the time has come for Louis van Gaal to face some home truths. Like against Chelsea, Manchester United dominated possession but did little to test former goalkeeper Tim Howard over the course of 90 minutes. This trait is becoming increasingly prevalent and van Gaal appears reluctant to change. Whether it is arrogance in his own ability or just sheer ignorance, the former Netherlands coach is hindering his own side’s chances at progressing. Worse still, with the end of the season fast approaching, the manager does not know his best formation – and players to fill those positions.
Man United lose a vital chance to consolidate their top-four spot
Seven points separate fourth-placed United from the chasing pack of Liverpool and Southampton. It would be unlikely that at this late stage of the season that this margin can be overturned but stranger things have happened when the season enters into its finale. After two losses on the spin, United will be looking over their shoulders far less comfortably than two weeks previously, especially as their Merseyside rivals have a game in hand over the Old Trafford outfit. Sure, it keeps the race for the top four interesting up until the close of the season but could one envisage a Manchester United under Alex Ferguson delivering such a limp performance at this stage of the season. For the team themselves, Champions League qualification is a must for Louis van Gaal’s side as two years away from the competition is two years too many for some fans and the three points missed from Goodison Park may be costly come 24th May.