Manchester City might have collected all three points against Everton on Saturday, but they didn’t have it all their own way. Indeed, the Toffees produced a battling performance and were somewhat unfortunate not to take something from the match, not least because of a questionable non-penalty decision towards the end.
Donny van de Beek’s display was a big part of Everton’s performance as a whole. The Dutchman played 71 minutes before suffering a minor injury, but in that time he averaged 89% middle third pass accuracy, made two ball recoveries, won two duels as well as two tackles and one interception. He was at the forefront of the Everton resistance.
Some at Manchester United, the player’s parent club, may have been puzzled watching van de Beek play in this way for Everton. While there have never been any doubts over the 24-year-old’s natural ability on the ball, it was reported that both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick had concerns over his physical capacity
It was suggested the rigours of the Premier League were too much for van de Beek who struggled desperately for game time in 18 months at Old Trafford. The Dutch international surely hoped a change in management would mean a change of personal fortune, but this never materialised. A January exit has allowed van de Beek to get his career back on track.
It’s still early days for van de Beek on Merseyside, but he has already shown more for Everton than he ever did for Manchester United. In fact, the performances he has produced paint the picture of a player who would improve the central midfield unit of Rangnick’s team. United need someone like Everton’s van de Beek.
United’s midfield has become something of an unsolvable puzzle in recent years. They certainly have talent in this area of the pitch with Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba among the very best in their position on their day, but Rangnick’s midfield unit, just like Solskjaer’s before him, lacks balance.
Van de Beek might not be the midfield anchor Manchester United need most of all, but he is a box-to-box operator in the mould Rangnick doesn’t currently possess. The Dutchman was never really given an opportunity to prove himself at Old Trafford and is now making United’s decision-making look even worse on loan at Everton.
“Yes, but it is also for everyone around me,” van de Beek replied when asked whether he feels he has a point to prove. “If I play well, I do it for them, for my girlfriend and for my family and friends. ‘I want to give joy to those people. And to the fans. Then I want to do it for myself. Of course, sometimes I am disappointed and frustrated. ‘But I always try to stay positive and believe there will be a day it will change. I can only change it with hard work, I want to show that some people are wrong and I still have the quality to play – I always aim to do this.”
Frank Lampard has taken on Van de Beek as a restoration project and there’s still hope for the Dutchman that his experience at Everton could prepare him for life at Manchester United as an important player. A new manager will be installed at Old Trafford this summer and this will present van de Beek with a third chance to make a good first impression.
Until then, Van de Beek should enjoy his new surroundings. Lampard’s Everton are a fluid, attack-minded outfit that appear to play to the 24-year-old’s strengths. Goodison Park could prove to be the perfect platform for van de Beek to prove Manchester United have been wrong about him until now.