Wilmslow Express - - CITY LIFE LOCAL -

HERE was no grim reaper in ev­i­dence like United’s last visit to Good­i­son – this was just grim.

ThThThThThThThe skele­tal fi­fi­fi­fig­ure of death that haunted David Moyes in the crowd 12months ago in the last throes of his Reds life wasn’t brought out of the closet to taunt Louis van Gaal.

Had this kind of per­for­mance been go­ing on for the last cou­ple of months in­stead of an en­cour­ag­ing re­nais­sance then the cos­tume and scythe could well have been mak­ing a come­back.

ThThis was a back­ward step dis­play from United which brings the prospect of a Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fier early next sea­son ever closer.

From ce­ment­ing a com­fort­able place in the top three on the back of a six- match win­ning run, United’s po­si­tion has been weak­ened af­ter the wheels came offff at Chelsea.

Old Trafffff­ford boss Van Gaal cu­ri­ously ar­gued that his side’s Stam­ford Bridge dis­play was one of the best of the sea­son.

Was there a Fergi­estyle piece of ki­dol­ogy in that pu­bic ap­praisal?

If it was done to quickly re­pair the con­fi­fi­dence af­ter the 1- 0 de­feat in west Lon­don then it failed mis­er­ably.

If he just read it difff­fer­ently to most then he couldn’t fail to mis­read this one.

It was a re­turn to the old days of Moyes’ visit last Easter in his fi­fi­nal game and also a throw­back to early sea­son when United’s pos­ses­sion foot­ball got nowhere and de­fend­ing was frag­ile in the ex­treme.

You thought Van Gaal had con­signed this kind of strug­gle to his­tory.

But as well as some laboured build up re­turn­ing, so were the calls from the vis­it­ing sec­tion at Good­i­son for United to ‘attack, attack, attack.’

But it was the lack of a de­cent cre­ative pass and a solid rear­guard back­bone that brought so­many haunt­ing mem­o­ries of Van Gaal’s ini­tial six months. It was the kind of mix of imag­i­na­tion and calm thatMichael Car­rick brings to Van Gaal’s struc­ture. ThThThThThThThThThey missed

it at Chelsea and again at Good­i­son.

But an ex­pen­sively as­sem­bled squad shouldn’t be so derailed and dis­jointed with­out one 33- year- old fi­fig­ure – no­mat­ter how in­flflu­en­tial. United hit a brick wall ev­ery time they got to the fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­nal third while Ever­ton eas­ily blud­geoned their way through a pa­per mache struc­ture.

On the one oc­ca­sion the Reds had opened up Ever­ton, Marouane Fel­laini bal­looned a great chance over to cancel out James McCarthy’s bustling, stum­bling opener that Paddy McNair and Da­ley Blind al­lowed with their flflimsy re­sis­tance.

United did sug­gest they’d got the hang of clear­ing Ever­ton’s cor­ners but a third suc­ces­sive Leighton Baines set piece, pre­vi­ously both cleared by Fel­laini, was seized on by a pow­er­ful run by John Stones.

United’s de­fence didn’t cover them­selves in glory ei­ther for the third as they stopped, arms raised en­masse, for an offff­side that Kevin Mi­ral­las neatly avoided.

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