By John Ryan
- Wayne Rooney makes first return to Old Trafford
- Pogba missing with muscle injury
Ronaldo Koeman was the Barcelona hero who scored the winning goal in the 1992 Champions League final.
His Wembley strike brought the Catalan giants their first European Cup. Finally allowing them to brag to arch-rivals Real Madrid.
He has been touted as a future Barcelona manager as well as being talked of for the Dutch National job.
Koeman’s managerial career began in 2001 and after mixed fortunes with Ajax, Benfica, PSV, Valencia, AZ Alkmaar & Feyenoord he landed the Southampton job in 2014.
In his first two seasons in England he won at Old Trafford against fellow Dutch Man Luis Van Gaal.
Last season his Everton side were denied all three points when Zlatan Ibrahimovic converted a 90th minute penalty. .
Rewinding all the way to May 1991 his long range free-kick against United proved to be a mere consolation. As Bryan Robson and Mark Hughes inspired United to an upset in the Cup Winners Cup final.
Koeman’s mixed fortunes also apply to his history against Manchester United.
The summer transfer activity pursued by Everton looked to be solid business. They made a forty seven million pounds profit on Romelu Lukaku and Golden Boy Wayne Rooney returned to Goodison on a free transfer.
These players moving in opposite directions also allowed the purchases of United old boy Michael Keane. Ajax Europa League finalist Davy Klaassen and Gylfi Sigurdsson for significant transfer fees.
Everton brought in ten new players and allowed six to leave.
When Alex Ferguson signed five new players in the summer of 1989 he moaned about the challenge of having the new arrivals all living in hotels and trying to bed into life at a new club at the same time.
It probably comes as no surprise then that Koeman has had to have crisis talks with his players this week. After three successive defeats and just two Premier League goals to date.
Manchester United’s form and preparation could not be more opposite to Everton. Jose Mourinho added three high profile purchases to his squad in the summer with each strengthening a line on the pitch.
United have taken ten points out of twelve to date and conceded their only goals to date away to Stoke.
Big Links Between The Two Clubs
In recent years the most pivotal meeting of United and Everton at Old Trafford was the 4-4 draw in April 2012.
In coming from two goals down Everton set in progress a domino effect of events. Manchester City won the Premier League which meant Alex Ferguson stayed on another year to go out as a winner & leave the club on a firm footing.
The managers United had lined up for his job were no longer available in the summer of 2013.
Based on the fighting spirit of his Everton team. And his repeated ability to keep a then average side competing in the top six catapulted David Moyes into the Old Trafford hot-seat.
Moyes was sacked eleven months later, Van Gaal brought a different style to United and then the club turned to Jose Mourinho.
In the four and a half years since Moyes was given the United job. A poor tenure has yielded the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Europa League. Everton have won nothing.
Pogba Set For Prolonged Spell On The Sidelines
With Paul Pogba out injured. Former Everton player Marouane Fellaini the thorn in United’s side in that 4-4 game has a chance to add to his cult status.
His goal in the midweek win over FC Basel led to praise from his manager. Fellaini has been consistently selected by the last three full time managers.
He signifies the changing of the guard; that things are done differently at Old Trafford these days but that is not necessarily a bad thing. In an era where bloated player wealth is inversely proportional to work rate. Fellaini is a what you see you get type player.
Pogba’s absence allows Mourinho to select both Rashford and Martial in the starting line up. If he goes with his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation. It allows Mourinho to put Matic and Fellaini in front of the back four and allow Henrik Mkhitaryan to weave his magic centrally.
With Romelu Lukaku having found the net six times already this season the manager can pick a side that will play his system to perfection.
The danger for Pogba is that by being absent maybe Mourinho will see benefits to him not being in the team.
The Return Of Wayne
Wayne Rooney is Manchester United’s all-time top scorer.
Away from the field he has had difficulties in his private life but without a doubt this is a game he will want to do well in.
No matter how professional a player is, it has to hurt when your manager tells you he is willing to let you go. In his new role at Everton it seemed Rooney had gained a new lease of life.
Results have not been as expected but with the quality in this Everton side the feeling is they have to click soon. Morgan Schneiderlin never made the grade at United but his experience there will stand him in good stead on Sunday.
Michael Keane will need all of his United experience to deal with Lukaku.
Under Koeman Everton have been prone to slumping once they go behind in games and Tottenham ruthlessly exposed that.
How Will Everton Approach This Game?
If the visitors score first Koeman has a dilemma of going for the throat or holding what they have. Based on games to date Mourinho will be looking to score as many as possible.
Everton’s best chance of success in this game could be between United’s lines in midfield.
Their midfielders are intelligent players and with a bit of thought their positions could trouble United. That said if Rashford and Marital play wide they should have too much pace and power for the Everton wing backs.
Midfield will determine where this game is won as given the attacking threat both sides have they are capable of goals, the question is which midfield will provide the most chances.
In Everton’s first ever Premier League game at Old Trafford they won by three goals.
On Sunday it could go two ways. A heavy defeat or a ground out one goal victory. A home win with Lukaku doing a lot of damage is the most likely outcome.
Verdict: Manchester United 3-0 Everton