It’s a big game for both sides at Goodison Park on Sunday (1.30pm).
The 1-0 win over Burnley was Everton’s fourth win in their last five Premier League games but we’ve struggled against sides in the top half of the division this term.
The Toffees need to prove that they can still compete against the big boys in what has been a disappointing season for the club.
A year ago Everton were the ones with Champions League ambitions and beat United 2-0 to do the double over them.
David Moyes (below) got the bullet after that but I felt sorry for him in many ways.
The Scot was was the fall guy at United because whoever took over from Sir Alex Ferguson was always on a hiding to nothing.
He shipped a lot of criticism for buying Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini – but they seem to be doing alright now! Ander Herrera was another he wanted – but the deal was delayed.
The big problem for Moyes was that his style of play was never going to suit the United faithful weaned on Premier League dominance through the Ferguson years.
He was always fire-fighting unrest in the squad and criticism from the terraces from the moment things started to go sour. The downturn in form was a massive shock to everyone at Old Trafford.
The only way is up
Chelsea put the brakes on Manchester United’s six-game unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge last weekend so Louis van Gaal will learn a lot about the characters in his squad as they chase that coveted top-four finish.
There was only really one way the club would go when van Gaal took over as he was always going to be given the time and a budget to make it work. Let’s not forget – despite winning the pre-season tournament in the US – he lost his first game at Old Trafford 1-0 to Swansea.
The big difference though was that LVG was never going to be vulnerable to the ‘show us your medals’ attitude from a dressing room used to winning.
Moyes lacked the experience and track record to face down dissenters and impose his will on the club.
You could never accuse LVG of lacking confidence or authority. When he wants something to happen, it happens, or someone gets it in the neck. And he not afraid to criticise players who aren’t performing.
Roberto Martinez (below) could learn a bit from him.
I’m all for positivity – but there’s been plenty of times this season when Everton have played badly and Roberto’s tried to justify it.
Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and say, you know what, that was poor. We didn’t play well and we’re going to have to improve.
The fans have been supportive but you can’t keep telling them what they see with their own eyes is wonderful – it’s not.
I don’t think Roberto can afford another bad season. He overachieved when he came in last year but we’ve never really gotten out of second gear this term until now. There’s still a lot of work to do and he’ll have to be busy this summer. There’s talk of Charlie Austin coming in from QPR.
Up for the Cup
You don’t want to see good players go but I said before that if Everton have to sell Ross Barkley for big money to get three or four quality players in – well that’s a sacrifice that could be worth making.
The club survived when we sold Wayne Rooney and we can do it again.
I loved playing against Manchester United. We had some great results against them like the 1995 FA Cup Final when we won 1-0. Paul Rideout got the winner, Dave Watson had a great game in the heart of defence and I wasn’t too bad either.
It was Prince William’s first time at an FA Cup final – but he’ll probably have other things on his mind this weekend though than watching the match.
Another game that sticks out was when we battered them 5-0 in 1984/85.
Kevin Sheedy (above) scored a header. I’d never seen ‘Sheeds’– do that before or since. I think he had to have stitches in his head. We ended up winning the league that year after a shaky start.
I don’t think we’ll see a scoreline like that on Sunday though. I think it will be honours even and a 1-1 draw @ 11/2.
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