After losing to Everton by a score of 3-0 on Sunday, United centre-back Chris Smalling is hopeful that the embarrassing defeat will act as a, “massive wake-up call”.
Losing a match is never good, but it was the WAY in which United lost that has the players on edge following the defeat.
Louis Van Gaal’s side controlled the ball for the majority of the game, but never capitalised on that possession time. Instead, Everton ran circles around the United defence, exploiting weaknesses in the Red Devil back line in route to three unanswered goals.
Controlling the opponent’s counter-attack will surely be a point of emphasis for Van Gaal this week as he prepares his team to welcome West Brom on Saturday at Old Trafford. Both Chelsea and Everton were able to pull off successful counter-punches when given the opportunity.
Just two weeks ago, United were feeling great about themselves. They had won six consecutive league games and were playing top-notch football. After consecutive defeats to Chelsea and Everton, they are no longer comfortably in the top four of the standings. They currently hold the fourth position; however, if Liverpool handle business against Hull on Tuesday, they will pull to within just four points of United with a month of football to go.
This realisation has certainly set in with the United players. In his blog, Juan Mata was direct and to the point, “We can’t afford another game like this one. We all want to be in the Champions League next season and, in order to get there, we must go back to the right path with good performances and good results.”
United are set to battle with West Brom on Saturday and they had better be on their game if they want to keep Liverpool from stealing their seat at next year’s Champions League table.