|By Okafor Joseph|Lensng.com|April 5, 2017| 7:20 AM
As Manchester United clawed their way back to a draw to keep their unbeaten run going for 20 games, there was a sense of dissatisfaction at Old Trafford.
It was not a good performance at all. Not by either of the teams. While Everton actually came to The Theatre of Dreams and attempted to play football, they were still rigid in attack and non-threatening after they took the lead.
Everton’s goal, scored by captain Phil Jagielka, was born out of woeful defending from the hosts. The chance should never have even been presented to the central defender, but Marouane Fellaini had lost his man in the box and Marcos Rojo decided to stop and stare at Jagielka instead of clearing the danger.
Luke Shaw has been under the microscope in the last few weeks and even more so when José Mourinho questioned his mentality last weekend.
You can argue that the comments were reverse psychology and it was said to force Shaw to come out and be motivated by the public shaming. It is obviously not Mourinho’s plan to upset or demotivate Shaw by saying it in the public domain, but if that is the way to get through to the England left back, then those measures were needed.
While Shaw only got 30 minutes against Everton, he did get an indirect assist of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s penalty goal. It was the left-back who was in the right position at the right time to strike an accurate shot on-target, which was saved by Ashley Williams.
The Welsh centre-back was consequently sent off for using his hands to save Shaw’s shot and the Red Devils were rightly awarded a penalty. Ibrahimovic, the big man for the big moments, stepped up with complete composure and sent Joel Robles the wrong way.
It was a night of sub-par performances from both teams. There were plenty of chances for United and the woodwork denied them twice. The Swedish striker was unfortunate not to level the score earlier on as he was wrongly penalised for being offside when heading the ball into Everton’s net.
There can be no denying that, this season, Manchester United have been on the wrong end of certain decisions. But there can also be no denying that they have been abysmal in some games. They have not deserved to win certain games, but the number of draws they should have turned into wins will potentially cost them a top four place.
While they are still in fifth place and within touching distance of a top four Champions League qualifying place, their fixtures – they have to still play: Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal and Tottenham – are not by any means favourable.
The focus for Mourinho and his players should firmly be on the Europa League. For this is their best chance of gaining Champions League qualification for the 2017/18 season. The Premier League top four race is not only out of their hands for now, it is also a dogfight in which they can’t have 100% focus on.
Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham are out of European competition and have a maximum of two games in the FA Cup left; while Liverpool have only the Premier League to focus on. Compare that with Man United’s nine fixtures in 30 days in April and you can see the stark difference in fixture congestion.
It is going to be a huge few weeks for Man United with both the Premier League and Europa League to play for. They need all their players available for selection, and, most importantly, they need Shaw to regain Mourinho’s confidence and become United’s stalwart left back