Never has a Manchester United vs Everton match carried the significance it will have on Wednesday night – the 1985 and 1995 FA Cup finals being notable exceptions – as David Moyes goes into his first meeting against his former club with United unbeaten in 12 games in all competitions, but nine points adrift of league leaders Arsenal.
It’s only just over six months ago that Moyes left Everton after a decade at Goodison Park to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford, with Roberto Martinez picking up Moyes’ baton on Merseyside, as both clubs began a new chapter in their history.
David Moyes has admitted he’s preparing himself to receive a far from cordial reception from the Everton fans travelling to Old Trafford tonight, as the Scotsman faces his former club for the first time since leaving for Old Trafford in the summer.
Having spent 11 years at Goodison Park, Moyes developed Everton into a top-eight side but never managed to win a trophy and knows he could be targeted by the Everton supporters tonight.
Paul Scholes has claimed that it’s time Tom Cleverley “kicked on” his Manchester United career, given the 24-year-old has so far “done okay” since returning to Old Trafford after loan spells at Wigan and Watford.
Scholesy’s statement echoes the thought of the large majority of Reds, who have grown frustrated at Cleverley’s inability to control game and failure to build on the promising signs he had shown when first arriving on the scene a couple of years ago, after graduating from the youth ranks.
If there’s been one lesson to be learnt so far this season, is that the options at David Moyes’ disposal resemble a blanket that it’s never quite long enough, thus always leaving some vital parts of United not properly covered.
Wednesday’s superb performance against Leverkusen highlighted how big a difference Shinj Kagawa can make when deployed in his favoured number 10 role but, given the injuries that sidelined Robin Van Persie and Michael Carrick, the formation Moyes adopted in Germany was borne out of necessity rather than conviction.
David Moyes has admitted United are not planning to open contract talks with Wayne Rooney in the immediate future, as the club seem happy to let the striker enter the final year of his contract which is a risky strategy at best and, at worst, the footballing equivalent of committing suicide.
After a turbulent summer during which Rooney seemed close to leave Old Trafford, before United turned down two offers from Chelsea, the 28-year-old has performed in inspired fashion for the Reds, returning to the form he last enjoyed three seasons ago when he almost single-handedly carried United to the title.
Consistency, these days, is at a premium as far as United are concerned.
Having produced a horrendous display at Cardiff and a superb performance at Leverkusen, United stopped halfway between the two today, delighting and infuriating in equal measure.
Twice trailing to a Tottenham side with worries of their own – Spurs, so far at least, prove that spending £100m in the transfer window doesn’t necessarily guarantee the expected step forward – United twice bounced back thanks to this summer’s number one enemy – Wayne Rooney, that is – but failed to snatch all the three points.
Wayne Rooney produced another match winning performance in the 0-5 hammering at BayArena setting up 4 of 5 goals scored by Manchester United. Without a doubt, he’s been the standout performer this season so far with 8 goals and 15 assists in 17 games. That tells you he’s directly/indirectly involved in 23 of Manchester United’s goals this season so far. That number of assists is more than Ozil (Assist-king), Oscar, Hazard and Eriksen COMBINED.
“We can’t afford to lose,” says Patrice Evra ahead of Sunday’s trip to White Hart Lane and few would disagree with the United left-back, for this weekend’s clash against Tottenham could be a watershed moment as far as David Moyes’ first season at the club is concerned.
Having beaten Arsenal, United failed to pick up any significant momentum and slumped to a dreadful draw at Cardiff last week, an infuriating result not only because the Reds conceded a late equaliser for the third time this season after letting in late goals against Shakthar and Southampton, but also because it came on the back on a terribly insipid performance.