Gary Neville believes that Everton’s 3-0 win over Manchester United was helped by a well-thought-out Roberto Martinez game plan.
Goals from James McCarthy, John Stones and Kevin Mirallas gave the Toffees their fifth win in six, and their third home victory in a row over United.
Neville, speaking to The Gary Neville Podcast, believes that any criticism coming Roberto Martinez’s way is unfair, and his tactics against United proved how good a manager he is.
“Roberto Martinez prides himself on being a possession manager but today he resigned himself to sitting off a little, and playing a little deeper,” Neville said.
“They carried the ball forward through (Romelu) Lukaku and were more direct.
“He conceded that they will have less possession, but would counter attack and the plan worked perfectly.
“They looked like they had been working all week on that in training. (Gareth) Barry and McCarthy in the middle of the park were outstanding and were key to the game.
“They protected that back four and closed off those spaces.
“They saw (Marouane) Fellaini out of the game, and ruffled him for 10 minutes in the first half.
“Fellaini had a big chance where he dispossessed Barry, but then Everton got the goal and those two disturbed Fellaini for five or 10 minutes.
“Roberto Martinez got his game plan spot on, and they deserved to win the game. They look a more balanced team.”
Neville also alluded to the fact that Everton’s return to form has coincided with their exit from the Europa League, and an absence from next season’s competition may be a blessing in disguise.
“Once you go out of the Europa League it gets easier,” Neville added.
“We have said it year in, year out, that teams who go into the Europa League find it more difficult.
“Everton had a fantastic season last year, so there was always going to be a dip.
“But those extra games, travelling on a Thursday night and moving games back to Sunday disturbs your rhythm.
“We have never quite got to the bottom of why it happens, but it does.
“Once they go out of the competition, all of a sudden, as if by magic, their form returns and they are now six unbeaten, five of those wins.”