For the first time under manager Louis Van Gaal, Manchester United suffered back-to-back Premier league defeats, thanks to Roberto Martinez’s Everton. Although seven points ahead of Liverpool, Van Gaal’s men were silenced by an impressive tenth-placed Everton.
Everton, whose form has gained a new lease life towards the end of the Premier league season, got their tactics right. Even though, as with the previous game at Stamford Bridge, Manchester United enjoyed a large proportion of ball possession: 66 per cent to be exact.
Contrary to the Reds, Everton were clinical in taking their chances, boasting a 2-0 lead at the break. Man-of-the-match James McCarthy and John Stones put The Toffees ahead before Kevin Mirallas hammered the final nail into the coffin.
It was a day of ‘threes’ for Everton yesterday, as this was the third consecutive season that the Goodison club have won this fixture – with last term’s 2-0 victory proving the last game of David Moyes’ term.
United never truly tested Tim Howard in the Everton goal, despite dominating territory and possession. “We were in control and very comfortable in what we wanted to do. Probably 3-0 is a well-deserved scoreline. It is a big demand to be in Europe and more than anything it is being able to cope with the mental fatigue”, Roberto Martinez said after the game.
The defeat means United stay seven points ahead of Liverpool, who still have a game in the hand. “We lacked aggression”, Van Gaal said of his men after the match. The Dutch manager’s men became desperate, tedious and reliant on speculative efforts from a distance by Marouane Fellaini and Blind.
“This is the first match that the other team have shown more fighting spirit than us”, Van Gaal added. The manager continued, “Our motivation, inspiration and aggression was not as high as the opponent. I hope it shall not happen again but, as a coach, I know it shall happen again”.
As the match progressed, United resorted to simply hopefully throwing the ball into the penalty box. Unfortunately this didn’t work, and time and time again Jagielka and Stones were able to beat Rooney, and then Falcao in the air.
United stay fourth in the league table and will be clinging onto that Champions League spot should they want to be in Europe next season. For now, it’s back to the drawing board for Van Gaal and his men.