Manchester United 2-0 Everton
Everton produced a performance that lacked any luster as the same old defence frailties cost the Blues any hope of victory.
A trip to Old Trafford is normally approached with trepidation and 21 years without a victory only compounds that feeling. However, with Everton well placed in the Premier League table and a good recent record against United, the Evertonians travelled with some hope, only to leave deflated and disappointed by a performance that failed to put the Champions-elect under any period of prolonged pressure.
Everton’s attacking verve, displayed throughout the season, does appear to have come at a cost. Defensively Everton look lost, always likely to concede even against the leagues poorer opposition, a game against a team containing a front 2 of Rooney and van Persie is likely to mean trouble. An overhaul of the defence is required to provide a consistency and a solid basis for the team to push forward and attack and to win games on a more regular basis. John Stones has arrived at right back, and although only 19 years old, a first team début can not be too far away. Centrally Everton appear suspect, even with Phil Jagielka enjoying his best season since returning from his serious knee injury. A partner for Jagielka, needs to be number 1 priority in the summer, someone with the strength and pace to cope with the demands of the Premier League and the high expectation levels of the Goodison crowd.
We should certainly not be too downbeat. Although a Champions League finish now looks a long-shot with the Blues slipping 6 points behind 4th placed Spurs, the season has been one of genuine optimism. Everton return to the FA Cup at the weekend, with a 5th round tie away at Oldham Athletic. Cup glory would be greeted with glee across the blue half of Merseyside and a strong finish in the league would ensure the progress of the last 12 months continues.