Wayne Rooney scores for United versus Everton in the 3-0 victory earlier in the season
Manchester United are looking to overtake West Ham, who drew 2-2 with Crystal Palace yesterday, and close the gap on Manchester City in fourth. Louis van Gaal will be in confident mood having beaten City in the derby 1-0 two weeks ago and will be looking for a repeat victory against Everton from earlier in the season.
United will be without Bastian Schweinsteiger, who picked up a knee injury with Germany over the international break – and will miss the rest of the season. Captain Wayne Rooney, is making good progress and although will not feature against his former club today – is likely to play for the U21s soon. The visitors will be missing midfielder Gareth Barry, who is serving the final match of his two game ban.
On a day that the South Stand is to be named after Sir Bobby Charlton, van Gaal will want to ensure Old Trafford witnesses a performance worthy of the legend himself.
We have a great view from the opposition for you today, from Shaun Murphy. We discussed the current mood around Goodison Park, the chances of FA Cup glory for both clubs and whether Romelu Lukaku will end up at Old Trafford in the summer. You can follow Shaun on Twitter @shaunmurphy316.
1) How would you sum up your season so far? What is the highest you can expect to finish?
Disappointing, Sub-standard, Inadequate. This seasons would have been an incredible opportunity for us to break into the top 4 with the usual suspect teams such as Chelsea, Man Utd & Liverpool struggling to be as dominant as they have been in previous seasons. Realistic a top 8 finish would be an achievement however all of the focus should be on the FA Cup.
2) There seems quite a bit of discontent at Goodison with a lot of fans losing patience with Roberto Martinez – will he be your manager next season and how would you describe his time in charge so far?
He is certainly starting to become an unpopular figure at Everton particularly with our home form being so bad this season. I think with the new owners he will be given a chance to invest and therefore I expect him to have at least another six months in charge. I’ll reserve judgement on his time in charge until the end of the season because if he delivers some silverware this season all will be forgiven.
3) John Stones is also getting a lot of stick regarding his positional play and gifting the opposition the ball at times – is he developing under Martinez and how good do you think he can become?
He is a gifted young man who has a bright future ahead of him but at times he does need to learn when to produce a sublime bit of skill and when to put the ball into row z. I believe he will become a world class defender and he is still developing at Everton. I think having competition from Jags & Funes Mori will only increase his desire to improve and the recent time he’s spent on the bench has had a positive effect on his attitude.
4) Romelu Lukaku has been linked with a move to Manchester United – can you see it happening if United creep in the back door for the Champions League? How much would he be worth?
Big Rom has been excellent this season and is starting to become an all rounded world class striker. My heart says he will be at Everton next season however my head says he’s on his bike. I don’t know if he will end up at United, a lot of ‘ifs and buts’ right now especially with who will be in charge next season. My value of a striker who has scored 60 premiership goals in the past 4 seasons and is only 22, would be £70 million plus. If Zlatan is on his way out of PSG, I’d expect Rom to be on top of their shopping lists.
5) Who would you prefer to face in the FA Cup – Manchester United or West Ham? Can you win the tournament?
Honestly I’d rather play Utd right now. West Ham have found a gem in Payet and they have had a fantastic season under Bilic. When I watched Utd play Liverpool in the first game of the Europa league fixture, I was extremely disappointed with them, they lacked any direction or leadership.
6) Would you Marouane Fellaini back to Everton?
Hmmmmm, I would but certainly for the same price we sold him for. I feel for him a bit as Utd don’t really know what his best position is. For me he either sits in front of the back 4 or he sits just behind a striker. Barry is not the spring chicken he used to be, so there could be room for a holding midfielder.
7) Wayne Rooney has been missing for Manchester United since the 2-1 defeat away at Sunderland – is his time up at United now or is he still the main man at Old Trafford? Can you see him returning to Everton or is China/US a more likely destination?
He still has a lot to offer for United and I think they’d be crazy to ship him out just yet. He has a very young family so I think the US would be more of an attractive offer than heading to China but ‘Once a blue, always a blue’ is in his blood. He’d make a lot more money going abroad, but then again at this time in his career, if he wants to cement his England legacy, staying in the Premier league is his best option so the Everton door is very much open.
8) Why can Everton thump Stoke City away from home and lose 4-3, having been 3-2 up? Everton have thrown away victories all throughout the season – what do you put that down to?
If I knew the answer to that, I’d drive to Martinez’s house and let him know. We have a very ‘gung-ho’ approach to games and have maybe lacked discipline in the final moments of a game when a calm head is what is required.
9) Has Ross Barkley developed over the past few seasons? Will he be a big player at Euro 2016?
He will play a big part for England, however I expect this to be more of an impact from the bench than a starting slot. His decision making has improved significantly and his work rate has come a long way. The only concern I have is we may start stifling his creative side which would be detrimental to his game.
10) What is your all time Everton dream team?