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Behind Enemy Lines: Manchester United (A)

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Theatre of Everton’s dreams? 

This weekend sees Everton visit Old Trafford – a ground we all know and a ground we have visited on many occaisons, mostly leaving with 0 points. Our most recent win over United at Old Trafford was 5 years ago when Oviedo scored a late winner and sent the away end into total pandemonium.

The United of old are no longer here, the Old Trafford we have come to know is less intimidating and hinders this United side as much as it helps them – showcased by Newcastle being able to get a 2 goal lead (before showing why they are infact bottom of the league). With 3 wins in succession and a squad without any injury concerns; things are starting to look a little rosy, but the tougher tests begin on Sunday and it’s time to see whether this current Everton team have dismissed the ghost of seasons past and attempt to win away to a big club. We have already seen us create ample opportunities at the Emirates and maybe were unlucky to not win that game and that is the sole reason some of the fanbase can be optimistic about our trip to one of the worst hunting grounds in the clubs entire history.

Richarlison and Bernard are due goals, surely?

I managed to catch up with Damien, a United fan who helps run Red Cafe – a United forum thats almost as old as our trophy drought. Here is what he has to say on the weekends match:

1) How long have you been a Manchester United fan for?

My family have been United fans for generations. I’m 27 now but I guess for the first 12 years of my life I wasn’t that interested in football. However, all of a sudden that changed and I haven’t looked back. Just wish I had been more interested earlier in my life so I wouldn’t have missed out on 1999.

2) How have you rated your season so far?

Been terrible. Some fans will say we’ve not strengthened in the summer so can’t expect much but look at Spurs. They signed nobody and are flying compared to us. Fan base seems more divided than ever and this is the first time in god knows how long that we’ve been playing each other with you above us in the table.

Got knocked out of the league cup at first attempt and lost to West Ham, Brighton and got thrashed by Spurs. Not been pretty. Suppose things have been ‘looking up’ since the turn around at Newcastle but even then we’ve done pretty poorly for what you’d expect.

3) How have your new signings bedded in?

They haven’t, really. Fred played a few times then got dropped after a match he scored in and we’ve barely seen him since. Dalot has mostly been injured, started playing in one or two games then got injured again and Grant has done about as well as you can expect from a third choice keeper. He got sent on in the league cup game as Romero got sent off but was useless in the penalty shootout.

4) Who’s the man to watch for Manchester United?

Honestly, there isn’t really anyone to be excited about right now. Maybe Martial if he starts but aside from scoring his performances haven’t been great either.

5) What player hasn’t impressed so far and you don’t want to see play this weekend?

Most of the squad hasn’t impressed. As for who I don’t want to see, maybe Lukaku but he’ll start. He’s scored a few goals but hasn’t done much in ages.

6) How are you expecting this game to play out?

Drab affair decided by a single goal.

7) What are your opinions on Marco Silva?

Good manager who likes to attack. Probably perceived as defensively weak but your record is better than ours.

8) What Everton player would you like to play for Manchester United?

Richarlison. We’re lacking in attack and he’s the best you have.

9) What should Everton expect from Manchester United in this match?

Of late we’ve ended up not doing anything until the other team has gone ahead and then we start playing a bit (see: Newcastle, Chelsea, Juventus). I’d hope that we would play from the start on the front foot but too many times we’ve played a poor half followed by an ‘okay’ one. If you put us under pressure and press, we probably won’t cope.

10) Everton has spent large amounts in recent years attempting to break into the ‘top 6’ – if we are able too. Would it be at your expense?

Right now I’d say so. We’re so far off the top five and can’t really see us catching up unless something changes.

11) Romelu Lukaku is a player we know well. Why do you think he isn’t hitting the heights his past goal scoring records suggest he can hit?

Hard to say but the only attacking player who has played better than they were prior to Mourinho is Lingard. Martial and Rashford both played better under van Gaal – even though we were even worse at scoring, and Sanchez had played better at Arsenal.

The problem might be we don’t have the right supply for him (Mourinho was all about the crosses and wanted to sign Perisic – our other attacking players aren’t that great in that regard), but he has wasted a lot of shots you’d expect a decent striker to take.

Some think the problem is he has bulked up too much compared to how he was at Everton and that has had a detrimental effect on his game. I don’t think there’s any one reason as to why he isn’t performing as well as he did for you but they are a few factors that come to mind.

12) Final score?

I’ll go for 1-0 to United with no real confidence.

  • For what it’s worth I (DANNOJ) believe it’ll be 1-1 and frankly a quite boring game.

All feedback and suggestions are taken onboard, so please get in touch!

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