Manchester United progressed to the fourth round of the FA Cup with a nervy 3-1 victory over Everton at Old Trafford on Friday.
United took the lead through a first-half goal from Antony before a David de Gea howler allowed Conor Coady to hand the Toffees the equaliser.
Coady scored an own goal in the second-half after some fine work by Marcus Rashford before the Mancunian made matters sure by converting an injury time penalty after a foul on Alejandro Garnacho.
Erik ten Hag had said prior to the game that he was taking every competition seriously and it showed as he picked almost a full-strength side for their third round clash.
Sure-shot starters fail to inspire
But the Dutchman will not be pleased with the performances of quite a few of his established stars. And most of them are sure-shot starters, which is an even bigger worry.
Just when the wheels were turning for De Gea, the Spaniard made a howler so strange, not many would have seen such a goal being conceded.
It once again brings into focus the need to buy a top-class goalkeeper, more in keeping with Ten Hag’s philosophy instead of pandering to sentimentality.
Jack Butland has been brought in as backup but is unlikely that he can be a long-term solution to the problem.
David de Gea 🥴
— B/R Football (@brfootball) January 6, 2023
Bruno Fernandes has been one of the best performers since his arrival at Old Trafford. And despite taking over the armband with Harry Maguire not playing from the start in most matches, his displays have recently been hit-and-miss.
He can still come up with moments of magic but consistency is lacking and misplaced passes galore sometimes ruin the team’s momentum.
With Donny van de Beek potentially out for the long-term, the Red Devils do not have readymade replacement ready.
As for the striker’s position, the Dutch boss has publicly repeated his message that he wants the club to bring in a goal-scorer but so far, nothing has happened.
Fred, the perfect substitute
With no competition for his place, Anthony Martial has once again regressed to his usual lazy self, and despite getting a couple of chances to score, failed to make it count.
The Frenchman is many things and his talent has never been in question, but he is not an elite goal-scorer and Ten Hag needs better.
Ten Hag is aware of how weak his bench is on most occasions but one player who has sparked into life as a substitute is Fred.
His high-energy pressing has helped United calm down when things have looked stretched in the last couple of games.
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