It was maybe the score line everybody expected, but not the performance we feared. There was a times, a small shimmering flame of hope for us to cling onto. An improved performance was required, and despite a score line which suggests otherwise, Everton actually made this game competitive.
Much of the match build up revolved around Lukaku and Rooney. If Rooney’s reception was warm at Old Trafford, Lukaku’s was very frosty from the travelling Toffees, and rightfully so. What much of the media were too lazy to look into, was Evertonians struggled to turn a blind eye to so many years of utter disrespect to the club who paid his wages.The unwritten agreement therefore was, you keep scoring Rom, and we will keep supporting. But the day he left this club, the agreement was finished. He got the memo (clearly) and so did we. Did he have to celebrate in the manner he did? Of course not. Now I’m not someone who says never celebrate against a former club. But a subdued celebration would have been fitting surely? Instead, I don’t think I’d seen Lukaku celebrate so passionately. But there we go, such is the mentality of the man. No respect for the club, the fans, or even his friends still at the club. These things have a habit of coming back and biting you on the arse, so with that in mind, we will see you for your welcome home party in January Rom.
Back to the Football, Everton lined up with a 3-4-2-1 (sigh). And after the 4th minute it was 1-0 to the hosts. Matic crossed the ball to Valencia, ’’go on balloon that one over the bar’’ I whispered to myself. Instead the wing back rifled it into the top corner of Pickford’s net. Classic. We feared the worst at this point, the home crowd were rocking and Everton couldn’t get hold of the ball. The game settled ever so slightly and Rooney, who found himself being crowded out of the game for the bulk of the first half, began finding Martina out on the right wide who was doing very well getting up and down the flank. On 21st minute Martina cut the ball back to Rooney who sliced his effort wide of the post. We were having a go though, optimism was building. Our hard work was nearly undone a few minutes later when a loose pass was picked up by Lukaku who bombed into the box to go one on one with Pickford, only to fire his effort wide. Shocking finish and he was forced to postpone his orgasm until the second half.
Half time came and went with the hosts nursing a slim 1-0 lead. Everton came out and did well. I’m not saying they ran the show, but they were arguably the better side. Just after the restart Rooney found himself with a glorious chance to make it 1-1, his attempt from close range was straight at De Gea who was relieved to keep hold of the ball. A shot on target though! Minutes later Sigurdsson found himself in a similar position but another good save from De Gea kept his effort out. There was an air around Old Trafford that the equaliser was on the cards. United chances were at a premium, although in 65thminute Mata unleased a brilliant free kick from the edge of the box which rattled the Everton post. On 82nd minutes Mirallas replaced Rooney who got a standing ovation from Old Trafford, it seemed much more relief that he didn’t score more than anything else. Especially when just minutes before the Stretford End were giving us their best rendition of ‘You Scouse Bastard’, something all the media outlets have refused to acknowledge.
Just a minute later though disaster struck. A mistake by Williams, resulted in Lukaku collecting the ball and putting in Mkhitaryan who buried the ball past Pickford. Cue the opening of the floodgates. Just minutes later Lukaku got his goal. He stood over a freekick that he was never going to score (know your place mate, it’s in the box), and smashed his effort at knee height into the wall, however the ball was swung back in a few seconds later and Lukaku snuck past Baines without disturbing his peaceful sleep and slotted home. Cue the pantomime act. In stoppage time, a hand ball by Schneriderlin resulted in a spot kick to which Martial slotted home, given the hosts and undeserved 4-0 victory.
In truth, the defeat hurt but there was improvement. The club still needs to work on their big game mentality, but that can be assessed later in the season, for now we’ve got the bad run of games out the way, I crave returning to comfortable wins against the teams outside the top 6 again for now. Victories breed confidence. with Sunderland and Bournemouth up next, things could be looking significantly better this time next week
– David ( @DAHughes92 )