With the clasico taking place this weekend, United were not supposed to be the big story. Whilst the Spanish behemoths hit lumps out of each other we were meant to quietly pick up three crucial points. Alas, Everton had not read the script.
Tremendous credit must go to David Moyes and his team. Having lost a semi-final to their great rivals only last weekend, their players could have been forgiven for turning off for the rest of the campaign. Instead, the Toffees played like their lives depended on it and fought for every ball.
United old boy Phil Neville was crunching into tackles all over the park and, for a team supposedly lacking bite, they certainly know how to score goals. Incidentally, Phil Neville is 7th on the all-time Premier League appearance chart, a fantastic achievement that is little discussed.
Conversations today are focussed on how United could throw away a two-goal lead with seven minutes to go. There is no favourable way to describe it, the defending was atrocious and it is hard to believe it would have happened if Nemanja Vidic were fit.
We can hardly blame injuries for this result though. Whilst it is a contender for game of the season so far, and the goals were basically high quality, it felt dreadful at the final whistle. Certainly all is not lost, but the momentum has shifted in the last ten days and it will take all of our experience to hold on from here.
It would be nice to focus on Wayne Rooney’s ascension in the United goalscoring charts. For a player so young to have overtaken George Best is phenomenal. He is such an important player for us, something which he proved again at Old Trafford this weekend.
In an ideal world we could also enjoy the boon of Nani’s successful return to the side. For half an hour here he was unplayable and the Everton backline didn’t know what to do with him.
Instead, my gaze turns to next week’s Manchester derby, the biggest of my lifetime, knowing that the destiny of this season’s title will rest on the outcome of that match. United rarely do things the easy way, and as Fergie himself said after the game, this “title race is back on”.
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