The best result of the season so far, although fair to say there hasn’t been much competition. Everton have struggled so far but they remain a decent side and beat us comfortably twice last year. Like last week, we invited pressure on ourselves late in the game but De Gea’s saves, at crucial times, won the points.
The official man of the match award had gone to Di Maria before De Gea’s late heroics- is it really too difficult to wait till the end of the game to give these out? It was great to see the praise for De Gea, and well deserved for what were some brilliant saves. However, what is more impressive about him has been his general consistent levels of performance for over a year. We have had a number of keepers over the last few decades. All of them have shown at one time or another an ability to make brilliant saves. Taibi, despite being a one-man comedy roadshow, made some fantastic saves during his short, short United career. But really we have only had two keepers in the last twenty years who have shown any consistency over a prolonged period- Schmeichel and Van de Sar. When Schemichel lost that consistency, during the treble season, it was the right time for him to go. What made them truly great keepers was the combination of this consistency with making great saves- the equivalent of a striker who scores great goals, and scores regularly. De Gea may be on the way to joining them although a small part of me preferred when he was getting less attention.
Going forward we again started well and could have been two or three up at the break. Di Maria scored with a neat curling shot from the edge of the area and impressed again. If he can maintain this then his price tag will be quickly forgotten. However there are plenty who have started strongly and faded quickly, not least Mesut Ozil as a recent example. Falcao’s goal, turning in Di Maria’s low drive, was good to see and he surely will get at least twenty if he continues to play regularly as he is getting two to three chances a game. As good as our strikers have been in past times, it’s scary to think what he would have achieved at the front of one of the great United sides.
At the back we did ok, although Lukaku being off-colour helped McNair have an easier afternoon. Shaw was, in cliché fashion, good going forward and susceptible at the back but he has time to grow into the position and the team. Everton’s goal was well worked and well finished by Naismith’s diving header, no real culpability from any individual.
An international break now, although the term break doesnt really apply when the majority of your squad goes to play for their national side. Up to fourth, let’s hope they return fit to continue this form at The Hawthorns when the league resumes.
Next match: West Brom (a)