Manchester United suffered another draw against Everton because Jose Mourinho decided to be a bottle job instead of a Manchester United manager. I have defended Mourinho many times, but today he showed why everyone didn’t want him to be the manager, by bottling brain for brawn and letting Marouane Fellaini enter the pitch for Henrikh Mkhitaryan. His defensive substitutions held United back from the performance, which was quite excellent in fact. Manchester United will not be playing Champions League football next season, and it is now time to really ask questions of the decisions Jose Mourinho has made.
The match was competitive in the first ten minutes, with spells of possession for both sides. Overall, though, United looked settled and ready to hurt the opponents with quick passing movements, and they would have done if Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s through pass to Anthony Martial was not (correctly) ruled offside for the Frenchman. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic getting heavily involved in United’s build-up play, he encountered an incident after a late tackle from Gareth Barry, who was lucky not to get booked.
Soon after, Marcos Rojo was lucky not to get sent off, as was Barry, as the former two-footed Yannick Bolasie to prevent a counter and Barry deliberately handled the ball to prevent United from starting one of their own. The referee, Michael Oliver, was another in the Premier League to be having a poor day, which is a true shame. Barry finally got his booking for holding Mkhitaryan back on the counter, and the Armenian, who was undoubtedly United’s best player in the first half, continued to shine cutting in from the right flank.
All United needed to get ahead in the end was a moment of brilliance from Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the second minute, after a ball over the top from Martial was volley-chipped over the goalkeeper, off two posts and into the goal. The referees needed goal-line technology to declare it, but Zlatan was awarded his goal. That was the last of the action in the half, but United would take comfort from a lead in a very close game.
The second half got underway with the same cagey demeanor, except Everton was seemingly more eager to press United and create chances. Everton finally earned a massive chance in the 53rd minute, as Kevin Mirallas lashed a shot at goal, but it was wonderfully saved by David de Gea, who hasn’t been in the best form lately but did undeniably well there. United, from the momentum of de Gea’s save, did incredibly well to fashion a chance for Martial, whose shot deflected off Coleman and looped over the goal.
A wonderful counter from Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Anthony Martial resulted in a chance for Ander Herrera, who rattled the crossbar and missed the chance to kill the game. Everton’s counter, resulting from Herrera’s missed effort, ended with Yannick Bolasie crossing just wide from the bar. The game went from good to fantastic very quickly. After a couple more excellent saves from de Gea, Anthony Martial made way for Marcus Rashford, which I thought was the wrong change from a defensive standpoint. Marouane Fellaini conceded a penalty as soon as coming on, though, and Everton equalized. The end of the match was horrible, as usual. Leave it there.
Goals: Zlatan Ibrahimovic 42′
Assists: Anthony Martial 42′
Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Darmian; Carrick, Herrera; Mkhitaryan (Fellaini 85′), Pogba, Martial (Rashford 83′); Ibrahimovic
Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Blind, Bailly; Mata, Lingard
Bookings: Marcos Rojo 16′, Marouane Fellaini 88′, David De Gea 88′