A lot of good things happened at Goodison. Right from the kick off United were on the front foot. The Arsenal performance for now consigned to a blip. The team was better balanced, every player contributed and there was urgency and purpose throughout the pitch as Van Gaal highlighted afterwards:
“We lost in a horrible way at Arsenal and we had to hold a lot of team meetings before this game, It was more than the response I was looking for, we controlled the game and played one of our best matches. We could have scored more goals in the second half.”
Totally agree Louis.
Van Gaal may have found something with Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger and Herrera as a fluid, rotating midfield in a 4-3-3 formation.The goals from Schneiderlin, Herrera and Rooney, all came from more energetic, enterprising, dynamic play. Chance made, chance taken, thanks. In the wide left role Martial showed how you can both be a disciplined team player and also display dazzling individual talents. By the end of the game Coleman was roasted, toasted, fried and frazzled.
Martial also revealed he has an eye for a pass with a through ball putting Rooney in for a one on one with Howard for what should have been Rooney’s second goal.
The defence had to cope with the ever bruising Lukaku, and once again this season Smalling showed he’s become one of the league’s top defenders. For much of this season I’ve argued for Blind as Smalling’s first choice partner, but on this showing the bloody nosed Jones has stepped ahead. It’s the perpetual promise, Smalling and Jones as the next great central defensive duo. But the big question remains: Can they and the rest of the defenders stay fit? They have played 9 games together in three seasons as centre halves. Nine games, count them!
Meanwhile Blind may struggle to get back in the team. Rojo had a good game Saturday. United again looked solid at the back, and might remain so if that back four remains free of injury until at least January when reinforcements can be bought. De Gea is the best goalie in the league, full stop. He proved it yet again with his second half saves from Lukaku and Barkley.
As for the bench warming Memphis/Depay the stories are beginning to leak about his attitude and how Giggs has given him a bollocking. Couple that with his poor performances and it’s not too early to start wondering if he has a long term future at the club. Currently there is no comparison with Martial. None at all. Martial is a player.
So what now? Arsenal was a disaster. Next up it’s midweek in Moscow for the Champions League game against CSKA, and City next weekend. Has Van Gaal righted the ship? Maybe he can work that out at Wings tonight?
Meanwhile please spare a thought for Howard Kendall, Everton’s former player and manager who died on Friday. I spent a lot of time with him when he managed the brilliant Everton team of the mid 80’s. You couldn’t wish to meet a more generous and decent man. His record as Everton’s manager speaks for itself.