Football Features

“The best signing they’ve made in the last 13 years” – Winners and Losers from Man Utd’s comeback win over Everton

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 14:58, 7 November 2020 | Updated: 9:36, 30 March 2021

In a great afternoon of football, Manchester United came from behind to beat Everton 1-3 at Goodison.

The win was crucial for The Red Devils after a difficult week coming off two straight defeats. Who were the winners and losers?

Winner: Bruno Fernandes

“Everyone needs to be a leader,” said Bruno Fernandes after the match. Describing some as talkers and others as “a mood leader,” someone who leads through actions. He didn’t specify which he was, but it’s clear after the performance and interview that he is both.

On the field, Bruno was imperious. United went 1-0 down and could have suffered an implosion after the midweek misery, but the Portuguese’s superb run and header drew United level. He then began controlling the tempo of United’s attacks, driving them forward. His sublime cross could have been an assist for Marcus Rashford, but instead sailed into the back of the net for his second goal. That was him leading with action.

Then with words, well, the interview after the match showed the measure of the man. When asked if he or Rashford scored the second goal there was no cheeky joke about claiming it, no talk of the dubious goals panel, Fernandes replied simple: “if Marcus touch[es the ball] a little bit, it can be his goal, it’s no problem for me.”

The Portuguese then added the killer line: “the three points is for everyone, not for one player.” He is utterly team-focused (a team-high 3 tackles shows he is no shirker). Bruno Fernandes is Manchester United’s superstar, leader and hero. The best signing they’ve made in the last 13 years.

Losers: Goalkeepers

Dean Henderson and Robin Olsen spent 90 minutes sat on the bench at Goodison Park and they must have been wondering why watching their bigger name starters flap around like excitable seagulls at a seaside picnic.

David de Gea was first to blink, standing in a bizarre position that was too central and allowed Bernard to sneak the ball in at his near-post to open the scoring.

Jordan Pickford, of course, responded in kind. You’d be hard-pressed to blame him for United’s equaliser, a superb header from Bruno Fernandesm, or their third goal which was a wicked finish from Edinson Cavani.

But for United’s go-ahead goal he not only failed to come an collect a cross that was within his range, but he also didn’t react at all when Fernandes’ cross sailed into the far-post. Pickford then had a couple of dodgy moments later, including one where he was lucky to not concede a penalty after taking Harry Maguire out. He and De Gea are not up to it.

Winner: Luke Shaw

Luke Shaw has now registered 2 assists in his last 2 games. That’s as many assists as he managed in the whole of the last season, and indeed he didn’t register a single assist in last season’s Premier League.

Clearly the threat of Alex Telles taking his spot has pushed Shaw to up his game, because the Englishman’s assists came from two beautiful crosses, something for which Telles is renowned.

Luke Shaw is determined to fight for his place, and will hope the injury that forced him to leave the field in the second-half is nothing too serious so he can emerge from the international break ready for a battle with Alex Telles.

Loser: Victor Lindelof

It’s rare you see a truly abject defensive display without any glaring errors in it. Like, the kind of performance you’d mark a 3/10 even though there was no penalty conceded, no sloppy backpass, etc. But that’s what Victor Lindelof did at Goodison Park.

The Swede got bossed in the air by Dominic Calvert-Lewin for Everton’s opening goal, and things never picked up from there. Everton spent the first-half torturing Aaron Wan-Bissaka with 2-v-1’s because they knew the right-back had no protection from the wing and absolutely nothing backing him up either.

Lindelof made 0 tackles, 0 interceptions and his 3 clearances all came at the end as Everton were desperately thwacking sloppy crosses in (he won just 1/4 aerial duels). United will be praying they can get Axel Tuanzebe (a sub today) up to full-speed as soon as possible.

Winner: Harry Maguire

Whilst Victor Lindelof was busy struggling, Harry Maguire stood tall. The Englishman is so often criticised for the things that he can’t do that people rarely give him credit for what he can do.

Against Everton, Maguire stood tall at the back. With David de Gea offering no command and Victor Lindelof needing help, Maguire was a constant bulwark at the back. The Englishman won 4/6 aerial duels, made 1 tackle and 1 interception whilst executing a colossal 7 clearances (a game high). Maguire is an easy target for mockery, but if he were partnered by a defender of equal or even superior ability (or if he were coached better) then United would really be able to see his brilliance.

Loser: James Rodriguez

Coming into this game we had the second and third best attacking midfielders in the division (after Kevin de Bruyne) going head-to-head. This was James vs. Bruno and it should have been an absolute heavyweight clash. And whilst the Portuguese delivered for United, scoring twice and assisting another, James Rodriguez was sadly absent.

Now part of James’ problem was obviously that he had to attack the space occupied by an excellent Harry Maguire and a motivated Luke Shaw. Meanwhile he also had Fred and Scott McTominay breathing down his neck as well.

Still, a player of James’ quality? You expect more than the Colombian delivered.