For the opening 20 minutes, Everton went toe-to-toe with Manchester United – just as they did with Arsenal at the Emirates in September. It was a confident, fearless start. We were comfortable on the ball, weren’t afraid to put a foot in and send numbers of players forward.
Under David Moyes, Ronald Koeman and Sam Allardyce, Everton approached games likes this with a simple backs-to-the-wall mentality. Sit everyone behind the ball and maybe nick a goal on the break – which inevitably never came.
Marco Silva has drilled this Everton side to not show too much respect to their opponent – even on their own turf. Silva’s Everton are comfortable on the ball, will move the ball forward quickly and will happily commit players forward in the pursuit of goals.
But there’s still a hangover from the pragmatic days.
Pickford saves Pogba's penalty but he scores the rebound! pic.twitter.com/pmRytvsnRi— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) October 28, 2018
Paul Pogba sent United into the lead at the second attempt after Jordan Pickford saved his penalty in the 27th minute… and Everton disappeared for 15 minutes. United looked back at their best and the inferiority complex was visible in the body language of every player in Blue.
Everton weathered the storm, and for the final minutes of the first half, the Blues got back at United – Silva’s philosophy resurfacing once more heading into the break.
As the teams re-emerged, Everton quickly conjured a chance with Richarlison seeing his effort well-saved. But just a couple of minutes of United dominance later, Pogba teed up Anthony Martial who sumptuously swept the ball across goal into the far corner to put United two-up.
THAT CURL Brilliant from Anthony Martial! pic.twitter.com/atsbYfWCYt— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) October 28, 2018
From the restart Everton should have pulled one back as Sigurdsson won back the ball high up the pitch before Richarlison threaded through Bernard who rounded David De Gea but couldn’t put the ball into the empty net with the little Brazilian off-balance at a tight angle. A goal at this point would surely have changed the momentum of the game.
Ademola Lookman was brought on on the hour mark but had little initial impact. However, all that changed in the 75th minute. The youngster picked the ball up deep in his own half and drove at United. After beating a couple of players, he was eventually tackled, but won the wall back again moments later.
Richarlison was then sent through on goal and was clattered by Chris Smalling – who was already on a yellow card but somehow avoided a second. Nevertheless, Gylfi Sigurdsson converted the penalty and Everton were back in the game.
Everton remained on the front foot for the rest of the game – save a couple of United counters – with Lookman proving to be a driving force. Unfortunately, quality was lacking for the Blues late on, despite last week’s super subs – Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Cenk Tosun – entering the fray.
This is an Everton team that is very much a work in progress. In terms of attacking threat – I’ve not seen anything like it since I first visited Goodison in 1996. This is a well-balanced Everton team that is bursting with attacking players offering width, pace and skill.
A disappointing result yes, but Everton are heading in the right direction under Marco Silva.