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28th Apr 2015

Defeat at Everton could be a blessing in disguise for sorry Manchester United

Nooruddean Choudry

Manchester United’s dire capitulation at the hands of Everton was neither welcome nor appreciated by Louis van Gaal.

But it could prove a vital reminder of work to be done.

Everton v Manchester United - Premier League : News Photo

There are only a handful of games left to inform the club’s transfer strategy and Sunday’s loss was a stark prompt, if required, that there remains real room for improvement.

The recent blooming of his carefully embedded philosophy was important vindication of Van Gaal’s methods, but United’s rich vein of form has also served to mask lurking deficiencies.

Everton v Manchester United - Premier League : News Photo

It seemed Van Gaal had proved he can indeed polish a turd and turn a struggling squad into a formidable outfit. But the said stool had just been rolled in orange glitter.

With Michael Carrick missing in midfield, and neither Phil Jones or Marcos Rojo present in defence, United stumbled to their heaviest league defeat of Van Gaal’s reign.

But those three absentees shouldn’t really bankrupt a top side of its verve and command.

Manchester United v Manchester City - Premier League : News Photo

Opinion on Carrick varies greatly. He is strangely divisive for one so unassuming (partly because he is so apparently benign). But this United side rely on him far more than they rightly should.

It is as though the ‘philosophy’, this complex construction of interdependence, is a house of cards that falls at its weakest point. Each fault is a strain on reliant parts and it all soon collapses.

Everton v Manchester United - Premier League : News Photo

The defence was again porous and feeble; partly due to Daley Blind’s scatty and ill-disciplined display, while Marouane Fellaini was more bothered than botherer, and the forwards were far too anonymous.

Most worrying for Van Gaal was a clear lack of mental fortitude and natural motivation. It points to deficiencies in character and leadership which will need urgent attention.

Everton v Manchester United - Premier League : News Photo

United are not back to ground zero of the rebuilding process. A settled first XI are able to do a very good job against very good sides, but they are a thin and brittle veneer.

What’s required is a significant upgrade in key positions, as well as a deeper level of quality as a whole. Any delusions to the contrary have been well and truly shattered.

Sunday’s result should not be given too much weight; it is not indicative of the club’s recent and rapid progress. But it’s a reminder – if needed – that the hard work starts here.