Plucky Everton secure excellent point

I hoped we might get at least a point in today’s game at Old Trafford and Everton did just that, and perhaps the Blues could have got all three.

Everton went into this game with a plenty of absences and then with just hours to go, both Djibril Sidibe and Gylfi Sigurdsson dropped out of an already injury-ravaged team.

The fact that many Everton supporters will have gone away from this match disappointed with only a point, shows how well the Blues played today and what a transformation has occurred.

With all those absences, especially in midfield, Duncan Ferguson had to re-shuffle his team yet again bringing Mason Holgate into midfield to partner Tom Davies and going to a new backline with Micheal Keane and Seamus Coleman coming back into the defence.

It looked like he might be setting up the team to play with three at the back, which concerned me, but it turned out to be a flat four in the end. A bit of tactical cunning from the big man!

Although Lucas Digne started he didn’t last long either and Leighton Baines came on for him. Baines was sound enough defensively and his superb set-piece delivery led to the Toffees goal.

After a slow, slightly nervous start, Everton shaded the opening half. The Toffees forced a few corners before Baines sent one over that United centre-back Victor Lindeloff, unfortunately for him, turned into his own net.

There was controversy about the goal with claims that Dominic Calvert-Lewin had obstructed United keeper David de Gea. After a VAR review, which would have made most Evertonians suitably nervous, the goal stood.

Whether it should have stood or not, to be honest it’s about time Everton got a break from VAR! Anyway the Blues were one nil up and I think probably deservedly so.

For most of the first half, the Toffees were still on top and United were struggling to get too many clear-cut chances against a well-organised and really energetic, determined Blues side.

After the break, in the second half, the home team upped their game and they started to create more chances. However Everton stayed pretty solid before eventually in-form teenage substitute Mason Greenwood, came on and fired home an equaliser.

Although many Blues fans will be slightly frustrated Ferguson’s team couldn’t hold on and claim all three, a point is still a good and much deserved outcome.

Apart from that point, the most pleasing thing is that the Toffees again showed the kind of grit and determination that was so absent in the Marco Silva era. They also showed the capacity to maintain that energy and workrate right to the end of the match.

Under the Portuguese, Everton never looked like they were a team that could find a way to get something from a game they had been outplayed in. This change is a critical development.

Now there is a resurgent confidence that even with a makeshift midfield against an in-form team, at a ground the Blues have had a horrendous record, they can do just that. It makes you think what might big Dunc be able to do if he had everyone fit to play?!

One other really unexpected positive was the performance of Holgate in the middle of the park. He moved into this position with the late, late absence of Sigurdsson. His strengths and qualities actually make him quite a good fit for this role. Perhaps it’s a something he could do again?

Injuries apart, the only real negative to come out of today’s match was the continuing issues surrounding Moise Kean. In a slightly bizarre situation, the young striker came on and then just less than twenty minutes later was hauled off again to be replaced by one of Everton’s forgotten players; Omaar Niasse.

I don’t know what’s going on with Kean. He seems to be really struggling to adapt and get a foothold in the Everton team. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea for him to go away on loan in January, it might do him good to have some time to sort his head out.

Overall this decent performance and excellent point, has given the board at Goodison Park yet more food for thought. We still don’t know who, if anyone, is going to take over as permanent manager soon, and Ferguson has again distanced himself from taking the job for the long-term.

However, if he keeps on coaxing performances like this out of group of players who looked utterly disinterested only a few weeks ago, then the calls for him to get the job, will become a more and more irresistible clamour.