Manchester United and the Martinez Ultimatum
There was something about the way Everton put a halt to the progress of an improving Manchester United.
Some speculated that United was having difficulty dealing with the smaller size of the field, Goodison Park is less than a yard more narrow and 4 yards shorter than Old Trafford. Those minor differences shouldn’t cause too many problems, even for a system that uses wing backs. One goal came off a set piece, and the anticipatory look and ensuing reaction on the face of Martinez were interesting works of body language.
The Everton manager had a very self-assured demeanor just before Baines crossed the ball into the Manchester pinball machine. Fellaini couldn't defend against his own favored method of scoring. Stones scored the second goal that would secure the win.
Perhaps what Mr. Martinez noticed was the difference in how Manchester United has to play from the left to right sides of the field.
There are different skill sets and personalities on the pitch. Van Gaal learned this several weeks ago, and decided to make it work for his cause. An opposing team approaching United by attempting to apply equal pressure from left to right plays to United’s benefit. The lack of continuity in symmetry is indicated by a fluid right-side and a work-a-day left side. This places extreme pressure on the the middle of United’s team. It must act as a sort of translator between these two disparate styles. Two of Everton’s goals distinctly developed from Everton’s right. The third goal develop down the middle as the translation disappeared.
Martinez pushed a strategic advantage learned by examining the recent successes of United to create his own success at home. Could Van Gaal do any better given his current players?
United and Van Gaal are probably already working on a strategy to fix the imbalance. The rumors point in that direction. Two of the remaining fixtures for United could prove difficult if other managers learned from what happened at Goodison Park this Sunday. As MU want that vital top three finish, the finish to the season will be interesting.
Van Gaal was issued the Martinez Ultimatum and now has to plug the dam to avoid a potential 4th place finish and face that pesky UEFA Champions qualifying round.