Reaction from the win at Goodison Park.
Football is football
The performance of Manchester City this season has created an unrealistic spotlight where Manchester United have been required to perform. Their poor Christmas form has been the perfect example of that – where, prior to the festive period, their defeat to Manchester City was heralded as a huge disappointment for Jose Mourinho and no other manager, 2018 began with him facing even further criticism as those three consecutive draws dragged United back into the ‘Champions League’ mix.
The recriminations after the draw against Southampton were at their meanest yet for the United boss. There are some who will insist there has been no progress since Louis van Gaal, and a goalless draw is fuel for that sort of opinion. But for clubs who have to spend within their means, even if their means are greater than others, football is still a sport, and the reason it is loved is for the unpredictable results it can bring. So while we can’t ignore the need for improvement from United, which is definitely needed, the constant scrutinising can be a bit over the top. Teams can’t win every game and teams go through runs of indifferent form.
Performances and results like this were the exception under the last two managers. It should not be ignored or dismissed that they are becoming the norm under Jose Mourinho. By and large his teams performances away from Old Trafford have been very good. Yes, there’s definite room for improvement in the biggest games, but nobody is perfect. Yes, this wasn’t the best Everton team, but it was still a tough game considering all of the circumstances. United’s second half performance was a brilliant boost and their three points were well deserved.
Lingard proves his worth again
Ignore the purple patch. Take Jesse Lingard as he is, the oft-maligned forward whose place in the squad has long been questioned. In away games, where the opposition have more of a duty to their own fans to play more adventurous football, Lingard’s engine and capability as a link player are outstanding attributes and they are becoming increasingly vital to United’s own system.
Pogba the leader
What a second half performance from Paul Pogba, who stepped up and gave a captain’s performance. The two assists give a statistical reference for his influence but the Frenchman’s dominance in the centre of the park was reminiscent of Roy Keane. Not in style, but in presence. On this evidence Pogba ought to be permanently given the armband.