Tactics and teamselection bode well


And so the dreaded Goodison Park hex is vanquished. Not only did United beat Everton but beat them well. In fact, hindsight tells us the reds were even profligate in their victory over the grieving Toffeemen.

The question now arises over Louis van Gaal’s tactical acumen. Whereas two weeks ago against Arsenal, he was a dinosaur, blinkered into playing an ageing midfield against the sprightly gunners. Here, the Dutchman was a visionary of passing football, inserting the dynamic Ander Herrera into Everton’s gaps and plying them apart.

Truly, Van Gaal moves in mysterious ways. Not as mysterious though, as those of Anthony Martial. Usually when a player is cornered by three defenders next to the corner flag, you can assume the danger in under control. Martial, on the other hand, finds gaps where there are none.

Twice in the second half he found himself bearing down on Tim Howard’s near post when the ball should have gone out of play long before. The sky is the limit for this guy when he gets going.

Wayne Rooney scored his goal with clean efficiency. The reports I have read so far seem to indicate that goalkeeping error played a huge part, Tim Howard diving so early that Rooney could not miss. Utter horseshit.

The extent of the negativity that Rooney attracts is astonishing to me. If you compare the criticism he gets with the latter day performances of Ryan Giggs on his off days, or Francesco Totti now, it makes no sense whatsoever.

Before the match people were banging on about how the number 10 had not scored away in the Premier League for 11 matches. Despite the fact he had scored home goals in that time, and in the Champions League, and in the League Cup and for England. Now what will they complain about? He hasn’t scored with his left foot away from home for a while?

But I digress, Rooney can handle the flak, it just seems so counterproductive that one of our own players should get such pelters from his own fans. Surely we should encourage our most effective players?

Rojo, tougher than a Mexican drug cartel
Rojo, tougher than a Mexican drug cartel

That’s enough on Rooney though. This was a victory for team selection rather than anything else. Holland’s miserable qualifying run for the Euros encouraged LVG to drop all of our Dutch players from the starting eleven. This gave starts to Marcus Rojo and Ander Herrera. Both of them made the most of it.

Rojo is the kind of character United need in the side. He is tougher than a Mexican drug cartel and the manner in which he sent in crosses, including an assist for Herrera’s goal, suggests he is more than an ample replacement for the injured Luke Shaw. He obviously wants to play too.

It is now a decade since Roy Keane retired but United finally look like they have a midfield again. The combination of Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlein and Herrera is not only incredibly difficult to type, it also seems to control football matches quite well too.

Schneiderlein’s goal was coolly dispatched and that trio offer a balance of tidiness and dynamism the other combinations don’t match. A lot of new faces have been thrown into United’s squad over the past 18 months, it feels like tremendous progress that clear best practices are now emerging.

Frankly, there is no more time to wait for things to come together. This is an incredibly challenging week in a tough month for the team. After they left Goodison, United’s players were packing their bags for the long trip to Moscow for the midweek game against CSKA.

Upon their return from the Champions League match ,United will play City at Eastlands next Sunday. First against Second and the neighbours are in terrific form. LVG passed the test at Goodison, but the exams which await are far more challenging.

Follow Mark on www.twitter.com/markjpayne


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