3 lessons learned as Manchester United are humiliated at the hands of Everton
Manchester United, after a humbling defeat against Barcelona in the Champions League, were expected to bounce back against Everton to keep their hopes of qualifying for Europe's premier competition alive.
That was not the case as Everton ran a shambolic United defense ragged with a comfortable 4-0 victory while dominating the game till the very end. Gylfi Siggurdson and Richarlison proved to be tough customers as Smalling & Co. struggled to keep pace with their persistent attacks.
United's performance has given Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a lot to ponder before they face the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea. Here are three takeaways from the game which could prove crucial for United in the long term.
#1 United's defense needs an anchor
If the 3-0 defeat at Barcelona was considered okay by Solskjaer due to their stature then, the humiliating defeat at Everton should set the alarm bells ringing. The lack of intensity and positional awareness was evident as United were caught napping, making it too easy for their opponents to create chances and score.
This is the first time since the 2000/01 season that United have conceded more than 46 goals in a campaign and the tally would have increased if not for De Gea's occasional heroics. United's reluctance to open their chequebook to sign elite defenders came back to haunt them.
Players such as Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, who would not have made the City or Chelsea squads, are considered automatic starters due to the lack of choices. These factors played a significant role in the humiliation suffered in the hands of Everton as United looked both leaderless and motorless despite having both.
Both Jones and Smalling failed to take control of the defense and seemed to be all over the place. United have ignored this area for years and are paying the price for it now as their dangerous attack which usually bails them out failed to make up for their lackluster defense.