For Manchester United to defeat Everton at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday, they need to start fast. That’s the opinion of former England international Phil Neville.
‘I think to come back from Russia and play on Sunday at 12 o'clock is really difficult, from past experience, so I feel United have got to have a fast start and keep the tempo high to make sure Everton feel the effects of the Europa League game’, the 37-year-old told MUTV.
‘Everton have let in too many goals which is unlike them, and every goal has been an individual error. But it was their best defensive performance at Anfield [last weekend] when they cut out the silly mistakes and became hard to beat’.
United did not have any midweek matches as they are not involved in any European competitions this campaign.
As for Everton, they had to travel to Russia to take on FC Krasnodar in the Europa League on Thursday. It was not a happy trip for Roberto Martinez’s side either, as they could only draw 1-1.
Neville has also defended United from criticisms of their defence. Louis van Gaal’s side have conceded nine goals in six matches in the Premier League and have come under attack.
However, Neville points out that some key members of the United defence are struggling with injuries.
‘As for United, it's been a bit up and down’, he explained. ‘The biggest problem is the amount of injuries - to have nine or 10 out, particularly in key areas of the pitch, means you're always going to struggle. The time to judge this team is when everybody is fit.
‘People are having a go at the defence but there have been no centre-backs fit all season. Soon, Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling will be back and the manager can start playing his best pairing at centre-back.
‘I'm sure these players will come good. I've got every faith in them. I've coached them, played with and against them, and I know the qualities they have got’.
That United have been hampered by injuries defensively cannot be denied. Indeed, last weekend a 19-year-old Paddy McNair made his first-team debut.
It is still early days for United, who are certainly going to improve and are very much in the race for a top-four finish in the Premier League.