Manchester United inched within three points of the top four on Sunday, splitting the points with Premier League rivals Everton at Goodison Park. A colossal mistake from keeper David de Gea put the Toffees up one minutes into the contest, but January signing Bruno Fernandes dazzled once again and scored the equalizer just over the half-hour mark to put the Reds level.
United had plenty of chances to secure and miss out on all three points, but an impressive double save from Jordan Pickford and a controversial VAR call during stoppage time ultimately saw the two sides leave with a point each. Here are three things we learned from United’s 1-1 draw against Everton.
De Gea no longer world class
Prior to signing a rumored £375,000 a week extension to remain at Old Trafford in September 2019, David de Gea reportedly moaned about United players earning more than him when he was arguably one of the best players on the pitch. At the time, the Spaniard had a point. From 2014 until 2016, he’d notched three consecutive player of the year honors and won the Premier League’s Golden Glove award in 2018. Since then, de Gea has become more of a liability than an asset at times. His ghastly error Sunday should also encourage Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to reconsider who will be his side’s last line of defense if they want to make a real push for Champions League qualification.
De Gea eventually made up for his early blunder by saving a fair amount of shots as the afternoon continued. With the Spaniard now contracted to United until the conclusion of the 2023 season, the coaching staff, players and fans must hope that the 29-year-old can make sense of his miscues and return to the world class form everyone is accustomed to seeing.
VAR continues to favor the Reds
Once again, VAR got the final word. Not sure what Harry Maguire was attempting in those final moments, but the captain should be thanking VAR referee Jon Moss for bailing United out of an otherwise embarrassing situation.
Everton scores, but it's called back. pic.twitter.com/qZkEAJ4uCK— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) March 1, 2020
There was lengthy discussion about whether Gylfi Sigurdsson, who was in an offside position, interfered with the play or if de Gea could have saved the shot. If controversial calls like this persist, it could certainly affect how VAR continues to be used in the subsequent seasons. Nevertheless, one thing remains perpetual for the time being: V-A-R is R-E-D.
Productive afternoon for Matić
When it pertains to the midfield, the conversation as of late has revolved around Bruno Fernandes. The Portuguese international has been the best thing to happen to United this year, but that’s easy to do when the bar is set fairly low. United splashed £47m for his services, and that has proved to be well worth it as his first full month at United comes to a close. But, it’s worth nothing another midfielder who put on a fine performance Sunday afternoon.
Injuries have stifled Nemanja Matić’s form and consequently his relationship with Solskjaer, but the former Chelsea man provided a level of control in the middle and was pivotal in managing the direction of play. He was unlucky not to score one, his powerful strike finding the crossbar instead of the back of the net. But when he’s well rested, confident and handed minutes to validate his position as a starter, the Serbian brings an incredible amount to balance to the midfield. He’s not worth a long-term extension, but United should consider letting Matić stick around for at least another year.