LIVERPOOL, England — Manchester United have had a tough time at Goodison Park since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, and now there’s another to add to the list.
Ralf Rangnick’s side were beaten 1-0 by Everton after a 2-0 defeat under David Moyes in 2014, a 3-0 defeat under Louis van Gaal in 2015 and a 4-0 defeat under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in 2019. one of those results should have been a low point never to be repeated, but the fact that it’s still happening almost a decade since Ferguson’s departure shows how difficult it is for the next manager to turn the club around .
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Ajax manager and presumptive Old Trafford coach-elect Erik ten Hag might want to add another zero to his asking price, particularly if there’s an April trip to Everton on the league’s fixture list. next season.
In the short term, Anthony Gordon’s first-half deflected goal means United have given themselves an even bigger mountain to climb if they are to play Champions League football next season.
It says it all about the state of Rangnick’s side that even after Arsenal slipped to Crystal Palace in midweek they couldn’t rise enough to beat an Everton side who had lost 17 of their 22 previous league games and started the day just one point above the relegation places. United have seven more games to play, but playing like this they don’t belong in Europe’s top club competition.
“The players should be looking forward to playing Champions League football, but as long as we’re playing like today, they don’t deserve it,” Rangnick said afterwards. “If you don’t score in 95 minutes against a team that conceded three goals against Burnley, it’s hard to explain. For us as coaches, it’s hard to understand why we haven’t created more ‘opportunities.’
Everton, fresh from a 3-2 defeat at Burnley in midweek, were there for the taking.
United started badly 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 that and a long shot from Paul Pogba nine minutes from time, United created nothing. Cristiano Ronaldo’s frustration boiled over towards the end, smashing the ball onto the benches in protest at Everton wasting time, but most of the damage was self-inflicted.
A nervous Everton crowd were starting to turn when Gordon’s shot blasted off Harry Maguire and past David De Gea in the 27th minute, and from them the home fans celebrated wildly with every pass and tackle.
“We had our moments and could have scored in the first 25 minutes but I wish we had been more penetrating,” Rangnick added. “You could literally feel they were falling apart after that result against Burnley and we didn’t take advantage of it and their first shot on goal, a deflected shot, changed the game and changed the atmosphere. In the second half , they just defended and we couldn’t break down that wall.”
It shows the confused thinking at United that when Rangnick needed a game-changing substitute in the second half, he turned to Juan Mata – so far without a single Premier League appearance this season.
Ronaldo fired a final shot in stoppage time which Pickford did well to save, but an equalizer would have only served to mask another appalling performance from United. Alex Telles was poor, Bruno Fernandes gave away the ball again and again and Ronaldo was almost anonymous, but the list of players who underperformed went beyond these 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 Sean Dyche told his Burnley players on Wednesday that Everton did not look like a side that knew how to win a game, and that Frank Lampard could easily have leveled the same accusation against United, despite having 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,” Lampard said. “They may not be in their best moment right now. Today we dug in and got the result we needed.”
If Ten Hag takes the United job he will need new players this summer, but the problems don’t start and end with the team. Dark days at Everton under Moyes, Van Gaal, Solskjaer and now Rangnick, only De Gea has started each time, suggesting the players are only part of the problem.
Rangnick says he has already told the board what needs to change this summer, but United fans have heard the same thing 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 the next one to get stuck with the Toffees.