Everton embarrass woeful Manchester United to turn up the heat on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

manu everton 2019

The good news for Manchester United is that next season there will be no repetition of that midweek humiliation in Barcelona. In urgent need of points, they fell to a miserable defeat at Everton, thus effectively curtailing their attempt to qualify for the Champions League.

Out-fought, out-thought, out-manoeuvred, against a vibrant, fizzing Everton, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team were simply abject. As their European ambitions crumbled in indignity on Merseyside, this was as wretched a performance as they can have delivered in this most disappointing of seasons.

For Everton, on the other hand, here was redemption. Marco Silva’s side played with real zip, as if anxious to atone for the aberration at Fulham last weekend. By the end of 90 minutes of complete domination, every pass was greeted with delighted oles from the stands. This was what Silva had long promised to deliver: a smart, intelligent, zestful, attacking exhibition.

They had shown their intent from the off, pushing and pressing from the first whistle, forcing their visitors into an early catalogue of errors. And how United were keen to oblige. Chris Smalling passed straight into touch when trying to drive forward from defence, Phil Jones then fell over allowing Everton to win a corner, while Victor Lindelof, covering as emergency right-back, was never in the right place at the right time.

Faced with such a wobbly backline, Bernard and Richarlison, Everton’s Brazilian wide men, relished their moment, delighting in causing endless confusion. Richarlison took an early shot which David De Gea did well to parry; the ball dropped for the Brazilian who poked wide. It was a let-off which was not to last long. As was demonstrated after just 13 minutes, when the relentless, one-sided pressure got its reward.


Lucas Digne hurled in a long throw to the middle of the United area, Dominic Calvert Lewin, despite being several inches smaller than his markers, headed on. And Richarlison, lurking unattended in the middle of the area, finished with a smart overhead volley.

The statistics of that goal did not make comfortable reading for Solskjaer: United have now not kept a clean sheet in 11 consecutive games, their worst sequence in 21 years; and this was now the most goals ever conceded in a Premier League season.

And things were not about to improve. Everton were full of ideas and running. United, on the other hand, had no invention, no craft, no pace. Lacklustre and disconnected, Paul Pogba was a passenger, Fred hapless and hopeless, Nemanja Matic statuesque. With the defence an accident waiting to happen and the three-man attack barely able to counter, it was like Jose Mourinho had never left.

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Despite the drift towards their own goal, United won their first corner after 27 minutes. It was the most false of false dawns. Marcus Rashford’s cross was headed out by Digne, Idrissa Gueye broke into the United half, he passed to Bernard who forwarded the ball to Gylfi Sigurdsson. The Icelander stepped inside a static Matic and walloped the ball past De Gea from 25 yards out.

United’s woeful condition was summed up by the attempt to retaliate. The ball was passed between Romelu Lukaku and Pogba, who laid it back to Fred. The Brazilian put it straight out into touch.

Solskjaer, who had spent much of the first half coming to the edge of his technical area and making the kind of vague gestures of a man lost in a gathering fog, made two changes at half-time in an attempt to resolve things: Ashley Young replaced Jones and Scott McTominay arrived for Fred. But the second half did not start any better for the visitors, Dalot immediately picking out Bernard.

It did not get any better for United and their rapidly diminishing Champions League qualification hopes. A half-hearted clearance from a corner fell to Digne, so far out he was practically in Stanley Park. He simply stroked the ball through a forest of limbs into the corner of De Gea’s goal. Then Smalling slipped as he attempted to close down Calvert Lewin. Five minutes later, Sigurdsson nutmegged Lindelof as he sent the substitute Theo Walcott through on the United goal. He compounded the misery with a fourth.

United’s afternoon was summed up by the fact Jordan Pickford didn’t have to make a save until the 85th minute, when his side were four up. For whoever is still in Solskjaer’s plans for next season, Thursday nights await. Champions League? You’re having a laugh.