Marouane Fellaini returns to Goodison park to face his old side Everton
What a difference a year makes. It was the 20th April 2014 and Everton quashed any slight glimmer of hope Manchester United fans had of a Champions League place, which ultimately sealed the fate of David Moyes. The home side easily brushed aside the visitors with an emphatically confident display, the polar opposition of the limp threat posed by United. Two days later Moyes was gone and United were looking for a successor a mere ten months following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Fast forward twelve months and United look in a much better state with Dutchman Louis van Gaal at the helm. The past six weeks has seen a return to the United of old, with van Gaal’s men picking up nine points against Champions League qualification chasing opponents, in Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City. United will hoping for a better result than the 2-0 defeat that ultimately ended Moyes’ regin at the club that he left.
The visitor are with out instrumental Michael Carrick, who has been in great form but missed the recent trip to Chelsea after starring in the 4-2 victory over Manchester City. Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo are also out for United. Louis van Gaal will be hoping David De Gea, who starred in the 2-1 victory over Everton in October, agrees to a contract extension and spurns any advances from Real Madrid. Its vital that going forward, United send out a message to retain the services of arguably the best goalkeeper in Europe.
We have a great view from the opposition for you today, from Shaun Murphy – a season ticket holder at Goodison Park. We discussed the rise of van Gaal’s United, the disappointment of Everton’s second season under Roberto Martinez and whether or not Wayne Rooney will end up back at Everton! You can follow Shaun on Twitter @shaunmurphy316.
1) What have you made of your season? Disappointing or to be expected following heights of last term?
I’d be lying if I didn’t say we I am massively disappointed with the season we have had. The run in the Europa league was the only highlight we had going for us and when that competition ended, all interest in the season ended (beside getting to safety). I really expected us to kick on from last seasons’ top 5 finish and we showed massive intent to break the top 4 with a marquee singing however other teams have produced this season (e.g. Southampton, Man Utd).
2) What areas do you expect to strengthen in the summer?
Defence without a doubt as we had a built a reputation as a tough team to score against. Distin has been a fantastic servant and is a true professional (still built like a horse) however he is 37 now and will turn 38 next season so I can’t see him getting a new contract. Alcaraz (also out of contract) hasn’t really made an impact for us and I’m never really comfortable when I know he is starting. I also feel we need some genuine competition for Big Rom up top as Kone has had a real stop start career at Everton and if either of them are out, we have no other options on the bench.
3) How would sum up you signings this season? Value for money?
Lukaku – Not been impressed with him this year (despite 18 goals). His attitude and work rate has let him down at times this season however he is still young and will develop into a world beater.
Barry – Well we did give a 35 year old a 3 year deal. Not the same impact as last year
Besic – Really like this lad, besides his tendency to get booked, has some real bite in the tackle but can also drive the ball forward
Lennon – Brilliant bit of injection since he has arrived. With Miralles stalling on a contract (throw in penaltygate) and the fact that Lennon has kept him out the side, I would pay the 7 million to make his move permanent however would definitely hire a different cameraman for these shots.
4) What do you make of Roberto Martinez? Is he still the right man to lead you forward?
Without a shadow of a doubt, would not want anyone else in charge of the club. This man speaks with real passion, charisma and enthusiasm and wants us to play football the right way. He can be frustrating at times as he doesn’t like to resort to plan B and if teams play a high tempo against us, we tend to play ourselves into danger, however this is his philosophy and the players have bought into it.
5) What have you made of Manchester United this season and in particular the revival over the past six weeks?
They have performed like the United of old. At times they have played poorly and yet still managed to come away with the results. The fear factor is starting to return with LVG in charge and I think you have now found a style of play that suits the players you have at the moment. Think Carrick is starting to make the team tick again and Juan Mata is a fabulous player.
6) Can United challenge for the title next term?
I think they are still 4 or maybe 5 top signings off of challenging for the title especially as I don’t believe players fear playing up against Jones and Smalling (no disrespect intended). Chelsea have strength in depth across all positions (hence why they are about to win the league) and I feel at the moment Man U would struggle if they lost a couple of key players (Rooney, Carrick, De Gea) at the same point during the season. They also need to keep hold of De Gea who has been your player of the season by a country mile. A striker (sorry Falcao) is a definite must for LVG.
7) What have you made of old boy Marouane Fellaini’s performance in the second part of the season?
Undroppable. Moyes knew what he was getting when purchasing him as he is such a handful and every defender’s worst nightmare. He takes the ball down on the chest from great heights and has a little bit of nastiness about him so defenders don’t want to get too tight for fear of an elbow. He is a great target man but has also chipped in with some important goals. Not your typical glamourous Man U player from back in the day but suits the current set up and is a unique weapon to have.
8) Who is your all time Everton hero and best match you’ve seen at Goodison against United?
Got to be Super Duncan Ferguson, he’s an enigma. He is such a cult hero for me and for Everton. The one in 2005 sits in well in memory when we were pushing for champions leagues places and he was his twilight. It was a typical Dunc goal, sticking his head in a place where defenders lead with boots for an in-swinging freekick. Now he is the first team coach so I’m hopeful we have some 6ft 4 youngster coming through the ranks he can mould.
9) How do you rate Wayne Rooney’s progression since he left Everton nearly eleven years ago? The player you thought he would become?
99.9% of all professional footballers would trade places with Wayne in a heartbeat and he has a career he can be incredibly proud of. Unfortunately for him, our expectations were he was going to kick onto that next level, the exceptional level (think Messi, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and now the likes of Neymar, Bale and Suarez) especially after the Euros 2004. Maybe because he is English and we hyped him up during our so called ‘golden generation’ and as the national team has never delivered it is easy to blame it on him for not progressing. I still honestly believe he will end up back at Everton one day.
10) What is your all time Everton xi, with three subs and gaffer?
I think I did this last time so let’s see if I’m consistent.
12. Mikel Arteta
13. Tim Howard
14. Wayne Rooney
Gaffer: Joe Royle (Won us the FA CUP)