Football

Manchester United's Drubbing Of Everton - A Sign Of Things Under Rafa Benitez?

Manchester United's Drubbing Of Everton - A Sign Of Things Under Rafa Benitez?

Full-time at Old Trafford. Manchester United 4, Everton 0.

It's hard to read too much into preseason games, but when it's the final one before the start of the Premier League campaign - you can read it into a bit more than others.

Manchester United fans will be quietly confident going into their PL season opener with Leeds after that performance. They were dominant in the first-half and had the game put to bed.

A one-sided 45 minutes

It only took eight minutes for United to break the deadlock. England's No.1 Jordan Pickford gifting Mason Greenwood with a spilt ball out of his hands, and the youngster firing into an open goal.

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The opening minutes were shaky for Pickford, who looked solid for the most part for the national side less than a month ago at Euro 2020.

His flapped attempt at saving a Bruno Fernandes shot almost had Anthony Marital making it two a few minutes after the first goal.

Then came United's second. It was an England special, as Luke Shaw found Harry Maguire from a corner, heading it home from the penalty spot. His sidestep away from Lucas Digne giving him enough space to score.

As if the first-half couldn't have gone worse for Everton; Bruno Fernandes made it 3-0. A brilliant free-kick effort from 25 yards out, rocketing past Pickford into the top left corner of the net.

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No luck for Everton

Unsurprisingly, Everton and Manchester United made several changes at half-time. Pogba came into the fold, while on the other end Pickford made way for new signing Asmir Begovic.

The second-half was much more promising for Everton. Despite a long-range effort from Bruno Fernandes, the Toffees had several chances to try to get them back into the game.

Another new signing, Andros Townsend, was unlucky to see his drilled shot bounce back off the woodwork above David De Gea.

Alex Iwobi sent an unanswered cross across the opposition penalty area. Demarai Gray couldn't get on the end of it as the ball slid away into United's possession.

Mason Greenwood came close for United towards the end. Ultimately it was a lot of back and forth as the second half progressed. A lot of youngsters seeing playing time on both sides.

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Then it was the final nail in the coffin. Fred whipping in a cross from the right-hand-side of the box, finding returning loanee Diogo Dalot who headed over Begovic to make it four.

The talking points

There has to be lots of positives for Manchester United to take away from this. It's a preseason game, and both sides were missing players. But could it be a sign of things to come?

New signings Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho were absent. Marcus Rashford and Edinson Cavani were also away. To score four goals without their two main goal threats was encouraging.

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Nemanja Matic was pinpointed post-game for his performance on MUTV, holding a stark defensive presence in midfield and enjoying success with his passes.

Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire didn't look like they're suffering too much from a Euro hangover, with Shaw being a standout in the first-half.

Everton, on the other hand, will feel a sense of worry. It's by far the toughest opposition they've faced in a shortened pre-season. They seemed off from pace of the game in the first-half.

Missing the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and Moise Kean will have limited their goal scoring considerably. It's unlikely Demarai Gray will be up front on his own for many games.

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Defensively is where Rafael Benitez will need to analyse. How did they fall apart in the first 45? Ben Godfrey has been a revelation and was Everton's best player in the game. Everyone else didn't show up.

A huge part of Benitez' transfer window was to improve Everton's depth on the wing. Gray and Townsend have looked to have done so, but neither played in traditional roles given the striker shakeup.

Ultimately, for both teams, neither will feel like they fielded their best eleven. But Manchester United's squad depth is an encouragement for fans going into the season.

If injuries play a factor for United - they have a slew of talent to call upon. If Everton lose a Ben Godfrey or a Calvert-Lewin, they'll likely pay the price.

See Also: Irish Youngster's MOTM Performance Could Fill Republic of Ireland No. 6 Void

Gavin Kilkenny

Jonathan Byrne

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