ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Man United 0
LONDON • It was defeat on a sunny Easter Sunday afternoon at Goodison Park that signalled the end for David Moyes at Manchester United. And that was merely a routine 2-0 loss.
This was a humiliating 4-0 Premier League defeat at the start of a supposed new dawn. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has inherited, and is presiding over, a shambles.
United players require a reality check, their latest manager had declared last Friday. It landed heavily on them yesterday as Marco Silva's slick, expansive and clinical team recorded Everton's biggest win over United since October 1984.
The embarrassment for the Old Trafford club was not confined to the scoreline.
It was writ large in the apathetic displays of their over-paid players, in Anthony Martial diving for a non-existent penalty, in David de Gea throwing the ball at a dawdling Diogo Dalot and in the visitors starting with the same central defence as in Moyes' last stand in April 2014.
There they were, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, the latter getting himself injured yet again to add to the sense of chaotic deja-vu.
At least he offered a semblance of commitment that was otherwise absent on an appalling afternoon for United. Champions League qualification is the least of their worries.
League goals Manchester United have conceded this season, their most in a top-flight campaign since 1978-79 (63).
A sorry Solskjaer admitted to Sky Sports after the match that his team just did not perform.
"From the first whistle, everything went wrong. I just want to apologise to the fans. They're the only people with the badge on today who can hold their heads high, because we can't," said the Norwegian, whose team have now lost six of their past eight games and five straight away matches for the first time since 1981.
"Everton were better than us at all the basics. There are so many things that we need to do better to get a result.
"That was not worthy of a Manchester United team. We hold our hands up and apologise to everyone associated with the club. We have a perfect chance to make amends on Wednesday (against Manchester City)."
Everton were superb and battered the visitors not only physically but also in terms of quality, desire and work rate too.
United, fielding three changes to the side outclassed in Barcelona last week, were truly pathetic. A two-goal deficit at half-time flattered their spineless display.
Their refusal, reluctance or inability to press their opponents contributed to a comfortable first-half stroll for the hosts.
To put it into context, Solskjaer's men ran 8.03km less than Everton in total - the biggest negative difference for United in a Premier League game since defeat by Spurs in August (10.2km less).
Brazilian Richarlison fired the Toffees ahead as early as the 13th minute with an acrobatic high volley. Gylfi Sigurdsson made it 2-0 with a low drive that goalkeeper de Gea was slow to react to.
Lucas Digne then blasted in the third in the 56th minute after de Gea punched out a corner to the French full-back as United struggled to get even a foot in the game.
Icelandic playmaker Sigurdsson then put substitute Theo Walcott through with a clever pass through the legs of Victor Lindelof which the striker confidently converted.
Former United defender Gary Neville, now a Sky Sports pundit, blasted the team after the loss.
"I'm furious, the fact that he (Solskjaer) has to go over and apologise to the fans at the whistle is embarrassing," he said.
"There's some bad weeds not only in the garden but Japanese knotweed attacking the entire house and they need it eradicating.
"I have 100 per cent faith in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but he needs backing and this performance was rancid. I would imagine the more Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sees these players, he will be losing faith in them."
United remain in sixth on 64 points, two behind fifth-placed Chelsea as their top-four hopes suffered a huge blow.
Everton manager Silva said he was happy with a clean sheet and United could surely do with one in their next match.
But that seems improbable now as City, who seem unstoppable in their title run-in, will be visiting Old Trafford relishing a big win on Wednesday.
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS