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Manchester United run riot destroy Everton 4-0

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By Alex Richards

Manchester United rounded off their pre-season campaign with a dominant victory over Everton at Old Trafford, on a chastening day for Rafa Benitez.

Mason Greenwood, Harry Maguire, Bruno Fernandes, and Diogo Dalot all found the net for the Red Devils inside the opening half-hour as the hapless Toffees were put to the sword by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.

Greenwood opened the scoring, helped by an error from England ‘keeper Jordan Pickford, before United captain Maguire then powered home a second with a towering header.

Fernandes struck a third just before the 30-minute mark with a superb 25-yard freekick, much to the delight of the home crowd with United threatening to run riot against an Everton side missing both Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison, its first-choice front pair.

The home side lost some of their rhythm in the second period amid a plethora of changes, and Andros Townsend should have reduced the arrears, hitting the crossbar when he perhaps should have scored. Fernandes would again go close while the lively Greenwood also had a fine chance but couldn’t find the finish.

Substitute Dalot did add a fourth in injury time however, a looping header evading Asmir Begovic.

For Benitez, it was a sign of the amount of work he has to do if the Toffees want a top half finish this season. For Solskjaer, a sign that his side could well be contenders. Here are five talking points…

1. Bruno, Bruno

Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane may have arrived for big money this summer and Paul Pogba may well stay for the final year of his current contract – and could still sign a new deal – but make no mistake this is very much Bruno Fernandes’ team.

The United crowd at Old Trafford are hanging on the Portuguese’s every touch, his every move into a shooting position, each time he places the ball for a freekick.

There is no-one the United faithful want to see front and centre more than United’s No.18, and he was more than happy to oblige by putting on a show.

His sumptuous freekick, which left Pickford grasping at thin air, had been preceded by the home crowd calling his name and demanding he take it; he didn’t let them down, so expect that to become a regular feature this term.

The league title and silverware is at the forefront of Fernandes’ plans for this season, and judging by this, he’s hell-bent on claiming glory one way or another.

Bruno Fernandes takes a bow after scoring

Bruno Fernandes takes a bow after scoring ( Image: Action Images via Reuters)

2. Razor-sharp Greenwood

Due to injury, Greenwood was unable to take his place in England’s Euro 2020 squad, a shame after a fine end to last term, when he struck eight in his final 14 games.

But back to full fitness, the teenage striker looks ready and raring to go at the start of 2021-22.

With Marcus Rashford out and Sancho set to be given time to bed in after his move from Borussia Dortmund, Greenwood is set to be a key component in United’s attack from the start next week, likely from the right, although he played both wide and through the middle here when Anthony Martial went off at the break.

He looked razor-sharp, taking advantage of Pickford’s mistake to score and impressed throughout with his movement. Solskjaer and co. are looking for him to kick on again this season and all signs here point to him doing just that.

If you’re playing Fantasy Football, he’s certainly worth consideration.

Manchester United's Mason Greenwood celebrates scoring

Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood celebrates scoring ( Image: Action Images via Reuters)

3. No Calvert-Lewin, no strike plan

Everton will be reliant on Calvert-Lewin this season and new boss Benitez has specifically signed wide men with the intention of improving the aerial supply for the England striker.

But shorn of him through injury here – and also Richarlison, who is away at the Olympics – the Toffees were utterly toothless in attack.

James Rodriguez and Demarai Gray operated as a front pair – of course, neither stood directly up top against United’s centre-halves – in a 4-4-2 formation with Alex Iwobi and Andros Townsend out wide. Simply, it did not work and James, who had a difficult relationship with Benitez at Real Madrid, looked as though he would rather be anywhere else before being hooked at half-time.

There was an improvement in the second period, and Townsend hit the woodwork when he should have scored.

It’s been a difficult summer for Everton for a plethora of reasons, going back to Carlo Ancelotti’s defection. This performance, both the lack of direction with the ball and the lacklustre nature of the closing down without it, will need to be hugely improved upon when the new season gets underway. Otherwise, it’s going to be a difficult campaign for the Merseyside club.

Tough day for Jordan Pickford, tough day for Everton

Tough day for Jordan Pickford, tough day for Everton ( Image: Action Images via Reuters)

4. De Gea in possession

With Dean Henderson injured, it’s a good time to be David de Gea.

Make no mistake, when Henderson is back fit, the questions over the No.1 shirt will return.

But until then, the Spaniard will hope for more days like this. He was largely untroubled, dealt with everything he needed to, and didn’t have the backdrop of “Who will Ole pick next week” in the background.

He’s the man in possession of the shirt at present, something which looked anything but certain 3/4 months back.

5. Deep-lying Donny

All the buzz around Carrington has been how impressive Donny van de Beek has been since the beginning of pre-season training.

Players and staff have alike praised the Dutchman, who endured a difficult debut campaign that saw him struggle for regular action.

The hope is that the 24-year-old former Ajax man can really kick on in 2021-22, and become an integral part of the squad after packing on some extra muscle during the off-season.

What Van de Beek still needs to convince on is whether there is an exact role for him in this side. Last season he all too often looked an ill fit, with no natural place in Solskjaer’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.

With Bruno Fernandes locked into the No.10 position, it’s up to Van de Beek to make one of the deeper midfield roles his own; he started here alongside Nemanja Matic is one of those.

The question is, with Scott McTominay, Fred, and Paul Pogba all still ahead of him in the pecking order for those spots – the latter two replaced he and Matic at the break – can he force his way through when it really matters?

Having had a full pre-season, and one where he’s widely been considered to have impressed, it’ll be interesting to see if he starts next week’s Premier League opener against Leeds.

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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