Manchester United’s latest humiliation at Everton suggests they’re not good enough for top four

 

Manchester United have had some chastening days at Goodison Park since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, and now there’s another to add to the list.

Ralf Rangnick’s team were beaten 1-0 by Everton to follow on from a 2-0 defeat under David Moyes in 2014, a 3-0 defeat under Louis van Gaal in 2015 and a 4-0 thumping under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in 2019. Each one of those results should have been a low point never to be repeated, but the fact it’s still happening nearly a decade since Ferguson left shows how big a job it is for the next manager to turn the club around.

Ajax manager and presumed Old Trafford coach-elect Erik ten Hag might want to add another zero onto his asking price, particularly if there’s an April trip to Everton on next season’s fixture list.

In the short term, Anthony Gordon’s deflected first-half goal means United have given themselves an even bigger mountain to climb if they want to play Champions League football next season.

It says everything about the state of Rangnick’s team that even after Arsenal slipped up at Crystal Palace in midweek, they couldn’t lift themselves enough to beat an Everton side who had lost 17 of their previous 22 league games and started the day just a point above the relegation places. United still have seven games left, but playing like this, they don’t belong in Europe’s top club competition.

“The players should be eager to play Champions League football but as long as we play like today they don’t deserve it,” said Rangnick afterwards. “If you don’t score in 95 minutes against a team who conceded three goals against Burnley it is difficult to explain. For us, as a coaching staff it is difficult to understand why we didn’t create more chances.”

Everton, fresh off the back of a 3-2 defeat at Burnley in midweek, were there for the taking.

United started poorly but Everton were so bad that Marcus Rashford still managed to force Jordan Pickford into two good saves. The second came from a header after 12 minutes, but between then and a long-distance shot from Paul Pogba nine minutes from time, United created nothing. Cristiano Ronaldo’s frustration boiled over towards the end, smashing the ball into the benches in protest at Everton’s time-wasting, but most of the damage was self-inflicted.
A nervous Everton crowd were beginning to turn when Gordon’s shot flicked off Harry Maguire and past David De Gea in the 27th minute, and from them on, the home supporters wildly celebrated every pass and tackle.

“We had our moments and could have scored in the first 25 minutes but I would have wished us to be more penetrating,” added Rangnick. “You could literally feel they were crumbling after that result against Burnley and we didn’t take advantage and their first shot on goal, a deflected shot, changed the game and changed the atmosphere. Second half they just defended and we were not able to break down that wall.”

It shows the muddled thinking at United that when Rangnick needed a substitute to change the game in the second half, he turned to Juan Mata – up until that point without a single appearance in the Premier League this season.

Ronaldo had one final shot in stoppage time that Pickford did well to save, but an equaliser would have only served to mask another appalling United performance. Alex Telles was poor, Bruno Fernandes gave the ball away again and again, and Ronaldo was almost anonymous, but the list of players who underperformed went beyond those three.

Everton’s goal was the 42nd they have conceded in the league this season, the worst record of any of the top eight and the same number as Burnley in 18th. It was ironic that on Wednesday Sean Dyche said he told his Burnley players that Everton didn’t look like a team who knew how to win a game, and Frank Lampard could have easily aimed the same accusation at United, although he chose not to.

“You can’t talk about a team with Ronaldo and Fernandes and [Jadon] Sancho and Rashford and say they don’t know how to win a game because they do,” said Lampard. “They are maybe not in their best moment at the moment. Today we dug in and got the result we needed.”

If Ten Hag takes on the United job, he will need new players in the summer, but the issues do not begin and end with the squad. Of the dark days at Everton under Moyes, Van Gaal, Solskjaer and now Rangnick, only De Gea have started each time, suggesting the players are only part of the problem.

Rangnick says he’s already told the board what needs to change in the summer but United’s fans heard the same after each of those desperate results in this part of Liverpool. Only time will tell if Ten Hag is the man to stop the rot or just next in line to get stuck with the Toffees.

Chelsea hit Southampton for six as Mason Mount, Timo Werner bag braces

Mason Mount and Timo Werner both scored twice as Chelsea put a bad week behind them to beat Southampton 6-0 at St. Mary’s in the Premier League on Saturday.

Thomas Tuchel’s side had lost 4-1 to Brentford last Saturday at Stamford Bridge before going down 3-1 against Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday but bounced back in emphatic fashion against Southampton.

Chelsea went up 1-0 in the eighth minute as Alonso ran on to a deft flick by Mount and blasted in his first league goal since the opening day of the campaign.

Mount, Chelsea’s leading scorer in the league this season, equalled his tally of nine goals from the previous campaign with a superb shot from outside the box after Southampton’s shaky defence failed to deal with Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s cross.

Southampton’s implosion continued as Werner made up for his earlier misses by beating Jan Bednarek for pace before rounding Fraser Forster and finishing into an empty net. Havertz then swept in Chelsea’s fourth after Werner hit the post again.

Chelsea were rewarded again after the break as Werner tapped in a rebound from N’Golo Kante’s effort which was saved by Forster. Mount completed the rout with another simple finish in the 54th minute.

Arsenal suffer shock home defeat to Brighton to dent Champions League hopes

Arsenal slipped to a shock 2-1 defeat against Brighton at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday as their hopes of finishing in the top four took a huge blow.

Leandro Trossard and Enock Mwepu scored a goal in each half and although Martin Odegaard pulled one back late on, Mikel Arteta’s side suffered their second consecutive loss in the Premier League.

Brighton had failed to score in their last three matches but produced an impressive display to claim their first league win away from home since February.

Arsenal remain in fifth place but could fall three points behind rivals Tottenham Hotspur if Antonio Conte’s side earn a victory at Aston Villa later on Saturday.

Brighton took the lead after 28 minutes when Trossard was through on goal and produced a fine finish past Aaron Ramsdale.

The hosts thought they had equalised on the stroke of half-time but Gabriel Martinelli’s goal was ruled out for offside after a lengthy VAR check.

Arsenal started the second half brightly but found themselves 2-0 down after 67 minutes when Mwepu’s stunning half-volley flew into the bottom corner.

Odegaard grabbed a goal back for Arsenal in the 89th minute but they failed to complete the comeback and suffered a disappointing loss.

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Courtesy: ESPN

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