Manchester United were brought back down to earth after a disappointing 1-1 draw with Everton on Sunday. The draw saw United miss the chance to go just two points off fourth-place Chelsea and the elusive Champions League spot for next season.
The Old Trafford outfit did not witness a Toffees player score however as Victor Lindelöf turned the ball into his own net after a missed punch from David De Gea to give Everton a first-half lead. It remained that scoreline for quite a while but it was youngster Mason Greenwood who hammered home the equaliser 13 minutes from time to earn United a point.
Here are five things we learned from Sunday’s clash.
Greenwood needs to start
The positive of Sunday’s result was that it was Mason Greenwood that netted United’s equaliser. The youngster has been impressing in recent weeks and looks to be growing in confidence despite his young age. It was quite clear on Sunday that United’s front four were all having an off day with a number of missed chances but it was Greenwood who showed them how to finish after coming on. The 18-year old already looks like United’s best finisher and after three goals in his last two, he’s earned a spot in the team on performance, not just talent.
4000 and counting
Speaking of academy talents and Sunday’s match was the 4000th Manchester United game in a row where a homegrown player was included in the Red Devils’ first-team squad. It’s a special record and not something you can get at many top clubs nowadays. Under Ole, this record will not come to an end. The Norwegian is making homegrown talent the core of his first-team with Sunday seeing seven inclusions so expect this to continue for years to come.
Midfield creativity is a must
Well maybe we already knew this one by now but it was shown yet again on Sunday. As much as the midfield of McTominay and Fred has been rightly praised in recent weeks, neither seem to have the ideas to really break the lines of a stubborn defence. Everton, like so many other of the lesser sides, have been quite happy to sit back and watch United fail to break them down and it’s costing United way too many points. Paul Pogba is expected to be the man that can do that but is he ever going to play for the club again? And if he does, is he actually going to do enough to show it? Nevertheless United are screaming out for a midfield player in the transfer window.
The defence still needs work
A lot of money has gone into the Manchester United backline in recent years, but it still is not where it needs to be. Sunday’s back four was the line-up that we looked at before the season started and thought it would click but it just hasn’t quite happened. The partnership of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelöf isn’t quite right. They both seem to want to stand off at times and it causes confusion which leads to mistakes, especially from the Swede. Luke Shaw’s injury troubles keep reoccurring and he quite frankly should have lost his place to a Brandon Williams by now and as much as we all love Aaron-Wan Bissaka don’t we wish that he could cross. You’d hope that as time goes on these four may get to know each other more and improve as a unit but as of right now United have still conceded more goals than the likes of Crystal Palace and Sheffield United so there’s still much more work to be done.
We haven’t turned a corner
As disappointing as it is, this is the reality of Manchester United at the moment. We’re improving but the inconsistencies are going to remain for a while. This United side doesn’t yet have the quality to beat every team that’s put in front of them nor the experience to grind out results on a regular basis. This is still a young side that is growing and is set up to be successful against the top sides. The game on Sunday showed that United are better without the ball. We struggle to break teams down and are too often forced into efforts from distance to try find a breakthrough. It’s no surprise that we do well against the likes of Man City and Spurs and lose to the likes of West Ham, it’s just how the team works best. This side will grow and its time will come but for now, we’ve got to remain patient.