Conclusions from Manchester United - Everton: Time for Kagawa to go

Michael Regan

Manchester United's defeat at the hands of Everton was a disastrous result, but not a terrible performance by any stretch of the imagination.

As has so often happened this season, a lot of people seem to have strangely forgotten the entire game as soon as the result came in. United certainly weren't outplayed by Everton - the control over the game was there, as it has been in a lot of our matches recently, but instead we had the problem of not scoring. This isn't to suggest we deserved to win - nobody deserves victory from a game they don't win unless they're robbed by officials - and if anything is a sign of something more troubling, that our problems go way beyond midfield.

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It's odd to see people suggesting that United are missing Michael Carrick. Carrick doesn't score or assist goals, so it's hard to see how he'd have been useful yesterday. As in the first half against Arsenal and against Cardiff, United controlled the game but couldn't create chances of sufficient quality or finish the ones they did come across. A lack of control was not the problem in the game, and it certainly wouldn't have been improved by installing a player who oversaw the team getting chased around the park at home by Southampton, Stoke and West Brom.

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On that note, Marouane Fellaini gave a fine performance, probably his best in a United shirt so far, even if he did fade slightly towards the end. Was a bit fortunate to take advantage of some leniency from the referee, but we've lacked a player with that kind of mentality for a very long time.

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The same cannot be said, however, for Shinji Kagawa. Once again, he was largely anonymous, one simple centre which almost created a goal as close as he got to having an influence on the game. When United enjoy lots of the ball in good positions, it is the job of Kagawa to ensure that it results in clear chances. In that respect, he failed again. There seems to be little hope for his United career now.

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David Moyes' substitutions are still the opposition's most dangerous weapon against us. While we had enough chances to win the game yesterday, it's hard to see Bryan Oviedo's goal happening with a proper right-back on the field. Valencia is combative, pacy and strong, and a good tackler, but he isn't used to playing in the role and doesn't know where to place himself on the pitch. His positioning for the goal was laughable, as was his awareness in realising his mistake only slightly before the ball had crossed the line.

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Yesterday seemed to be the point in the season reminiscent of the 85th minute of a 3-1 defeat - the bit where, even though nothing has really changed, everybody accepts that things aren't going to work out as we hoped. It's hard to see United back in the title picture without a completely new team in January, and heavy reinforcements will be needed to even make 4th seem likely. The past few games have shown that our problems go way beyond midfield.

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There wasn't much he could do with the chance where he hit the bar yesterday, and like all right-thinking reds I won't hear a bad word said about him regardless of how bad he plays. Nonetheless: is Danny Welbeck becoming our Shola Ameobi?

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