By any means necessary - Takeaways after Manchester United’s 2-0 win against Everton

Another uninspiring performance by the Reds, but another victory nonetheless - who are Manchester United right now?

Manchester United v Everton FC - Premier League
Manchester United v Everton FC - Premier League / Michael Regan/GettyImages

Well, what to make of this one?

In a game where United were second best most of the time to a side battling for Premier League safety, the Reds still came out with a 2-0 win, courtesy of two penalties won by their man of the match, Alejandro Garnacho.

So, what does it all mean?

Sometimes in life, you have to just get through. By any means necessary. The person you feel you are doesn’t quite tally with the you that’s in the public. There’s a disconnect between your perception of yourself and the reality. In these situations, one must keep going, heading in the direction of some fixed goal, some paradise over the horizon where they can be their one true selves, inside and out.

The actor who is currently a waitress.
The aspiring singer who finds himself tending bar.
The writer in a spirit sapping office.

You have to just keep going.

Everyone knows Manchester United need to qualify for the Champions League. How they do it, whether any of us like it or not has, quite frankly, become second to making sure it actually gets done. Pragmatism is going to take precedence over performance. Was that a Manchester United performance to be proud of? Did it chime with their perception of themselves? With the values Manchester United hold? Of course not. But the Reds’ reality right now is that they have to just keep going. Head towards that fixed point over the horizon. Sometimes it’s going to get ugly. Allowing Everton twenty shots on target certainly qualifies as 'ugly'. The Toffees became the fifth side in six League games to fire so many shots at ten Hag’s side this season, but ultimately paid for their profligacy. Another, better, side, surely would have put a fistful of those chances away. It was ugly. But over and above all else is the one gleaming truth that matters most right now.

United got the job done.

There is something to be said for resiliency and gutting it out, of course. United showed a tenacity and ability to rid their luck at times, two things that have been missing too many times this campaign. The only problem with that is those two things can go missing at any given moment. It is not good enough.

Neither, right now, are United…

The defence is still all over the place. A lot of that is down to injuries, but a lot of it is down to lack of quality, too. In midfield, the team are too soft and, whisper it, Casemiro is becoming a huge liability. Countless times in this game (and not just in this game) he gave the ball away cheaply, often gifting Everton a through on goal. He has fallen behind the play, as though, overnight, his legs have gone. Age finally catching up with him. Wild challenges, where his timing is woefully off (sometimes so woefully off that he misses not just the ball, but the man as well, making him look ridiculous) have become a hallmark of his every game. Without question, his presence on the training ground and behind the scenes will be invaluable. Casemiro is a winner, and can help show the young players at United the way. Sadly, though, the reality is he is too much weight to carry for a team already struggling under its own steam. Going forward he, and the team, would be better served by offering his guidance and services from the bench.

Up front, well, there just aren’t enough options. Everything is pinned on the shoulders of a 20 year old in Rasmus Hojlund, with the most potent support coming from (admittedly increasingly outstanding) 19 year old Garnacho. That is not good enough by far, and must be the first thing addressed in the summer when it comes to bringing new players in.

Without qualifying for the Champions League, though, that job will be much more difficult. Without qualifying for the Champions League, Erik ten Hag must surely know his tenure at Old Trafford will come to an end. Without qualifying for the Chanpjons League, Manchester United will take a huge step back, putting a huge dent, and delay, in whatever plans Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS have for the club. Failure to get over the line would be disastrous.

They simply have to qualify.

Maybe when they do, they can work on becoming their one true selves again, the Manchester United we all know and love.

God knows, we’ve missed them.