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Everton v United: pressure piles on Rooney

October 17, 2015 Tags: , Matches 11 comments
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So poor is Wayne Rooney in matches against former club Everton that is tempting to suggest Manchester United is effectively rendered one man short. The Scouser has scored just four times in 18 games against the Toffees and not at Goodison Park since 2007. Indeed, Rooney has suffered plenty of indignity at his former ground, once being substituted by Sir Alex Ferguson in 2008 for fear of an imminent red card, and left out of the matchday squad altogether on another occasion.

Yet Rooney’s form is also in such poor form this season that some fans have come to view the striker’s demotion to the bench as necessary, if not yet inevitable given the captain’s special privileges under manager Louis van Gaal. Rooney has scored five times since August, although three came against Belgian side Club Brugge and another versus Ipswich Town in the Capital One Cup. Just once has Rooney found the net in the Premier League this season. There have been far more inept displays from the striker, including a fortnight ago at Arsenal.

Rooney missed two England games during the international break, and the player’s lack of “match rhythm” met yet give Van Gaal cause to drop his captain with a political safety net in place. Not that the Dutchman appears to hold any less faith in the 29-year-old despite a series of woeful performances this season. Indeed, Van Gaal gave short shrift to media questions about Rooney’s form during his regular Friday press conference.

“His average is not so good [against Everton] so it’s getting time that he changed that pattern. I’m a manager who analyses opponents and gives him advice as to how we can disorganise Everton’s defence and then maybe he can score,” said Van Gaal on Friday.

“For me it is not so important who is scoring. We have scored a lot of goals. In the beginning your criticism was we don’t score goals but now we’ve scored a lot of goals and you’re picking up an individual player and I don’t like that. He’s our captain so that’s very important because his influence is bigger than every other player in our group.”

United began the season struggling to create and convert chances, although Anthony Martial’s introduction has proven to be a catalyst for more effective attacking performances in recent weeks. The youngster has scored four in seven games for his new club, although his performances have merited greater praise still. United scored twice against Wolfsburg in the Champions League, three at home to Sunderland, another three against Ipswich, three at Southampton and three at home to Liverpool. All since Martial joined in early September.

“Have we created enough chances?” Van Gaal asked. “Yes, I think so. I think we have chances to score in every game. Also against Arsenal, after the first 20 minutes we have created a lot of chances. It’s not a given in every team that you can create a lot of chances at 3-0 down and we did it, so that’s the positive thing. But of course it’s very important that out of your chances you score and against Arsenal we didn’t.”

That defeat at Arsenal has prompted something of an internal debate at the club, with United starting the game slowly and – despite the manager’s claim – rarely threatening to get back into the match, albeit the Reds put in a more positive performance in the second period. United’s midfield axis of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Michael Carrick struggled at the Emirates – though much was down to Van Gaal’s odd tactical demands. The German was pushed high up the pitch, too often leaving Carrick to contend with three mobile Arsenal midfielders.

United suffered a similarly cataclysmic defeat at Everton last April, with Rooney particularly ineffective – an seemingly uninterested – as United slipped to a 3-0 defeat on Merseyside. It is a result Van Gaal will want to avenge, especially in light of United’s performance in North London a fortnight ago.

“We are always evaluating ourselves and we cannot accept that,” van Gaal told reporters of United’s performance at Arsenal. “You have to behave like a champion. You have to improve yourself so that in the future you can be the champion. You have to improve every time, which is what I am saying. I have analysed over the two weeks and that is awful when you have such a result. We have spoken about this and that it can’t happen again. ”

Meanwhile, Everton manager Roberto Martinez described last season’s result at Goodison as “comfortable in everything we wanted to do.” It is a damning assessment of United’s ineptitude that day.

Everton’s results are on the up after a difficult start to the campaign, with the Spaniard’s team now unbeaten in seven games – a sequence that includes victory over Chelsea at Goodison and a draw in the Merseyside derby last time out.

Martinez’ side was probably unfortunate not to secure victory in Brendan Rodgers’ last game as Liverpool manager. Still, the Spaniard is counting on a raucous Goodison crowd to earn the home side victory on Saturday. Recent history is with the Toffees – Everton has beaten United on the last three occasions at Goodison. A fourth is unthinkable for Van Gaal and his captain.

“Goodison probably gets at its very best [against United], and when Goodison pushes you with that energy and that voice, as a player you feel the difference, and as a team you feel you can cope with anything that you get in front of you.”

Team news and line-ups

Everton v Manchester United, Premier League, Goodison Park, 17 October 2015

Van Gaal is likely to select Rooney at number 10, with the striker recovered from a minor injury that kept him out of two international games in the past week. Carrick and Schweinsteiger are also fit, as is Phil Jones, who played for England in midweek. The Dutchman could pair Jones with Chris Smalling in central defence, with Daley Blind moving to left-back and Matteo Darmian starting on the right. Although the combination of that quartet could also see three players start outside their normal roles. Stand-in full-back Ashley Young is unfit with a thigh problem and Marcos Rojo not yet fully fit.

“Wayne Rooney, I think he can play and Michael Carrick can play as well,” said van Gaal. “I was very pleased with Jones. He has played for me two times for 15 or 20 minutes. Then he plays for the England team. When I want to select him I can select him for the line-up.”

Meanwhile, Paddy McNair suffered a ruptured kidney as Northern Ireland qualified for Euro 2016 and will miss United’s trip to Everton. Rojo and Ander Herrera trained in Manchester during the international break and should be part of the match-day squad, although neither is likely to start.

“They were injured and they have a rehabilitation period behind their back and everything went well,” Van aal told MUTV. “They are also fit to play – maybe not 90 minutes but you never know.”

John Stones and Seamus Coleman should return for the home side, while former Red Tom Cleverley is also fit. Steven Pienaar and Kevin Mirallas are available after suspension.

Everton subs from: Joel, Browning, Funes Mori, Holgate, Oviedo, Gibson, Lennon, McGeady, Mirallas, Osman, Kone
United subs from: Romero, Rojo, Pereira, Fellaini, Schweinsteiger, Herrera, Lingard, Valencia, Wilson

Match officials
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Assistants: A Halliday, D Cann
Fourth Official: R Madley

Prediction
Everton 1-1 United

£1 bet club
Wayne Rooney to be sent off at 25/1

Match graphic by @cole007

11 comments

denton davey - October 17, 2015 Reply

On the bandwagon, TheWayneBoy scored on a breakaway.

Off the bandwagon, TheWayneBoy missed two opportunities – before half-time, to put in a team-mate on the break. There was a period – from about the 25th minute onwards – where everything (EveryFuckingThing) was wrong with his game: awful touch, appalling passing, and so on.

More problematic – Anthony Martial was quite literally marginalized on the wing.

More reassuring – Ander Herrera was masterful in that roving role.

Today, it worked out but there was little consolation for those who think that one-away-goal-a-season-ends-Rooney’s-slump. He looked like a third-division player (whatever they call the “third division” nowadays.

Opti - October 18, 2015 Reply

Harsh words, even though Rooney needs to see the bench. Put Depay back out left, Herrera #10, Martial CF, Mata on right. Ahhhhhh…..

Those tricky Martial feet!!! Marginalized: yes, but effective still.

Amazing how much Rooney has slowed up…

Chabby - October 18, 2015 Reply

Van Gaal is proving not to be as ruthless as we thought by refusing to drop Rooney to the bench (Honestly speaking, Rooney should be building his “match rhythm” with the reserves). Van Gaal is also proving to be very clever and cunning…by scraping together an effective team. Not the best effective team but an effective team that even includes the weakest link, Rooney, as a striker. It is effective at not just winning the game but at also at slightly disguising the weaknesses of Rooney by having the creative and energetic forces of Harrera, Martial, Matta /Lingard around him…supported by a great central midfield. This great bluff could do wonders for Rooney’s confidence and help catapult him into a REAL vein of form but on the other hand Rooney’s depressing form could continue and rob the team of the opportunity to develop chemistry with a player that could have taken his place. I hope this little exercise of putting paper over the cracks doesn’t last too long

denton davey - October 18, 2015 Reply

” This great bluff could do wonders for Rooney’s confidence and help catapult him into a REAL vein of form but on the other hand Rooney’s depressing form could continue and rob the team of the opportunity to develop chemistry with a player that could have taken his place.”

How about this ?

“I must say that I’m rather amused at the abuse that wayne rooney still gets, even when he plays well as part of the team against good opponents who have caused man utd a lot of trouble recently.

He didn’t do Much other than set up the herrera shot that was lead to the corner for the first goal with a superb flick, then from the corner prevented naismith from clearing the ball, which eventually fell to schneiderlein. Then A couple of minutes later, he held off two opponents, and scooped the ball out wide to Martial who got Flattened by Coleman, but with stones out of position, rooney was already making a front post decoy run that took phil jagielka out of the centre. He was never going to get a chance to win the header, but he just dragged the defender out of the way for Herera to have all that room to run into.

He got in behind the everton defence on three occasions, the first time he cut the ball back to martial who should really have scored, the second time he scored, and the third time the keeper came out and made a save. And all throughout he worked like a lunatic, Pushing the back four back by threatening to run in behind, making more space for passing in midfield. Dragging them from side to side to make room to disrupt their shape and make room for runners from midfield, and then dropping into midfield, to get on the ball, and form the apex of passing triangles in midfield.

When Man utd didn’t have the ball, and everton were trying to get back into the game, he was 10 yards inside his own half, acting as a screen in front of the midfield, hindering everton’s attempts to play it around the back, closing down passing options, and preventing john Stones from carrying the ball forward into midfield. He covers an enormous amount of ground in every game, and perhaps he would have had the energy to get further away from jagielka for that second one on one chance, if he hadn’t been running his legs into stumps.

You see, People need to understand that Louis Van Gaal really doesn’t care how many goals rooney scores, as long as he follows his tactical instructions to the letter. That involves him doing all sort of things that are relatively unflattering and unglamorous, like front post runs you will never score from, or Dropping back from the no.10 position into the no. 8 position to maintain the teams shape when schweinsteiger pushes forward into midfield.

It’s not about getting the maximum glory out of your star players. Watching man utd lately it mostly seems about the team scoring three goals in nearly all their games, usually from three different scorers. And Rooney isn’t just the Man Utd Captain because he’s the most highly paid player. He’s the Man Utd captain, because he loves louis Van gaal and thinks that he is a genius, and does exatly what van gaal asks him to. Rooney gave an interview to David Winner three years ago where he said that the team that he would go out of his way to watch as a child was Van Gaal’s Ajax, and that his favourite player was Jari Litmanen.

Rooney is a total tactics nerd, and along with Carrick has regular lengthy tactical discussions, where they get very nerdy. This is why you didn’t hear a peep out of Rooney when Van gaal was asking him to drop into midfield in the absence of Michael Carrick, because he was the player with the best idea of what it was Van Gaal wanted done. If you watch rooney, he is usually doing what Van Gaal’s system requires him to do, and if that means staying out of the penalty area, and keeping the team shape while a teammate swaps position with him, then that is exactly what he will do. He’s not going to score from there, but if man utd keep their shape, they will find it easier to keep the ball, to maintain pressure, and leave them less exposed to the counter attack.

As long as rooney keeps doing everything he can to make Van Gaal’s system work, and keeps putting the team first Van Gaal will be very happy with him.”

I’ll have a double of what he’s having !

bobbynoble - October 19, 2015 Reply

That’s some ejaculation, Davey!

denton davey - October 19, 2015 Reply

It wasn’t mine – I just copied/pasted it from a guy on the Guardian forum. It’s so bizarre that I thought others might like it, too.

j-diz - October 21, 2015

You could tell it wasn’t Denton because there was a distinct lack of awful nicknames.

TheWayneBoy etc.

And yes, Rooney is shit.

Lucas - October 19, 2015 Reply

Truth is ManUtd are winning despite Rooney. His touch and passing were all over the place, and whenever he gave the ball away, it resulted in Everton counterattacks. Thankfully, Smaldini and Dave are doing a great job in defence. Maybe, Rooney as captain has a positive influence on the team but that doesn’t mean he should have special privileges and not be dropped. Herrera showed why he is most important to us – the pace and tempo of our passing is much better with him in the team.

Abba - October 19, 2015 Reply

Smaldini, haha I like the sound of that. One thing that annoys me with rooney is his first touch, its so awful. An average hit bounce three meters away from him hen controlling it. It should be glue to his foot.

Zak - October 22, 2015 Reply

Arsenal supporter here. Absolutely comical how in the rant cast you glossed over the the thumping at the Emirates. We smashed you in the FA Cup and now the league, and you have the temerity to ‘know’ how to beat Arsenal. Well, clearly you don’t. Otherwise, nice site and keep up the good work.

Ed - October 22, 2015 Reply

Fuck me a chippy Arsenal fan, never seen one of those 🙂 You’d think your lot win the Premier League every year. Oh wait…

I called it “Van Gaal’s worst game as a manager” on the pod. Think that was a fair summary.

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