Football: United victory emphasises troubled times for Everton

Manchester United's Antonio Valencia celebrates scoring their first goal with team mates and Romelu Lukaku, on Sept 17, 2017.
Manchester United's Antonio Valencia celebrates scoring their first goal with team mates and Romelu Lukaku, on Sept 17, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • By the end of the English Premier League football match on Sunday, Wayne Rooney could probably be forgiven for wondering what adventures he might be missing with his old team. He had heard his name sung and, before he entered the tunnel, there was a little, polite wave of appreciation.

Yet, the English striker wore the look of a man whose return to Old Trafford had felt like an ordeal and he can never have imagined there would come a time when he would find himself in the away dressing room ruminating on what it is like to be in the relegation zone.

The paradox is that this was not always the fluent, dangerous Manchester United that has been seen in other parts in the new season and it felt perplexing that Jose Mourinho described it as their best performance so far this season.

Indeed, for a long part of the second half, there was clear evidence of how much they would miss the injured Paul Pogba.

Ultimately, though, it turned into the third 4-0 win of their opening five league fixtures and another reminder of the team's firepower.

It is the first time United have won their opening three home games since the 2011-12 season and they are level with Manchester City atop the Premier League on identical records: 13 points, 15 goals scored, two conceded. Pep Guardiola's team are top solely because their second name starts with a C rather than a U.

Everton, in stark contrast, find themselves in the bottom three and Rooney, chin in hands, watched forlornly from the dugout after being substituted.

Everton have now gone six games in all competitions without a victory, losing the last four with a combined score of 0-12, and have not won in the league since the opening weekend of the season.

"Please be realistic," manager Ronald Koeman said afterwards, taking issue with Mourinho's reference to Everton being a club that had ambitions of a top-four finish.

The reality, however, is that Everton's supporters were entitled to expect more after an extensive period of summer recruitment.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2017, with the headline 'United victory emphasises troubled times for Everton'. Print Edition | Subscribe