Manchester United traveled to Goodison Park with their season in all kinds of trouble. Solskjaer's men were out of the UEFA Champions League, having surrendered to Barcelona over two legs in the Quarter Finals. It was now confirmed that United would end the season without any Silverware, however, there was an ever greater worry looming large.
The Red Devils were 6th in the Premier League table and as such, were in danger of missing out of the UEFA Champions League next season. The top 4 race was far from over, but United had the toughest run of the 4 teams vying for the third and fourth spot. With the Red Devils still to play Manchester City and Chelsea, Solskjaer knew that nothing other than a win against Everton would do.
However, the Red Devils were humiliated 4-0 at Goodison Park and are now alarmingly close to missing out Champions League football next season. While there was not a single player who impressed against the Toffees, there were quite a few who were extremely poor. Today, we take a look at the 5 men who cost United the game.
#5 Diogo Dalot
The right back had to start at the left back position because Luke Shaw was serving his two game suspension. Perhaps Ashley Young would have been the ideal replacement, but the Englishman’s current run of form, coupled with a midweek game against Manchester City meant that Dalot was asked to adjust at left back. It was not an entirely unfamiliar position for the Portuguese, who has that ability to play in the position, but on the field, he was extremely poor.
Dalot failed to join Martial in attack and rarely ventured forward. His positioning was poor and he lacked ambition. However, his defending was not better either, as he allowed Coleman to run past him and was powerless to stop Richarlison. The Brazilian tormented him and left him exposed.
Solskjaer did bring in Young in place of the injured Jones and moved Lindelof to the center back role. Perhaps the Norwegian would have been better advised to put Dalot on the right and Young on the left from the start of the second half, because the Portuguese had a night to forget and cost United the game.
#4 Marcus Rashford
Solskjaer showed a lot of faith in youth ever since taking over at Old Trafford. One of the main beneficiaries of the Norwegian’s belief in youngsters was Marcus Rashford. The Englishman had suffered under Mourinho’s reign, but Solskjaer instilled belief in Rashford and even installed him as Manchester United’s preferred striker ahead of Lukaku. Rashford started life under Solskjaer brilliantly, but has waned away of late. Against Everton too, one could be forgiven for thinking that Rashford wasn’t even on the pitch.
The Englishman started from the right, as Lukaku was preferred through the middle. Rashford did little to impress throughout the game until he was replaced by Andreas Pereira just before the end. In the opening minutes, Pogba sent in a glorious ball that had Rashford one on one with the keeper, but indecision and poor finishing cost him and United a fantastic start.
Marcus Rashford promised goals and glory when he lit up Solskjaer’s opening months at Old Trafford. He provided neither on Sunday and cost United the game.
#3 Anthony Martial
The Frenchman has come under scrutiny because of his recent performances. In fact, Solskjaer had himself admitted that he expected more from Martial. Since renewing his contract, the Frenchman has been unimpressive and has been on a dry spell too.
As such, Sunday was an opportunity for him to redeem himself and stamp his authority on the game. Unfortunately, the Frenchman failed to have any influence against Everton.
Martial started from the left side, but never looked to be in the game. He was absent in the first half and rarely threatened the Everton back four. His positioning was poor and there was an alarming lack of desire in his stride. As Coleman bombed forward at will, the Frenchman had the chance to make good use of the spaces available to him. But Martial could not stamp his authority in the game.
In the second half, the Frenchman did improve and started taking on the back four. He even registered United’s first and only shot on target in the 85th minute, but was also guilty of missing an easy opportunity. Martial’s poor performance ultimately cost Manchester United the game.
#2 Paul Pogba
There is no doubt that under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Paul Pogba is the main man at Manchester United. The Norwegian had openly stated his desire to build a team around Pogba, but those feelings seem to have dispersed of late. Pogba’s inconsistency in midfield had cost United before and Solskjaer seems to be the latest victim now.
Against Everton, Pogba had Matic and Fred for company in the midfield, which meant that the Frenchman had all the liberty in the world to play his natural game. But the Frenchman stayed too deep and looked disinterested at times. He had runners ahead of him looking to be fed, but Pogba failed to bring his A game to Goodison Park.
As United were put under tremendous pressure, he was expected to initiate counter attacks and punish Everton on the break. But the Frenchman failed to find his team mates on many occasions. He is United’s leading goal scorer this season, but Pogba was hardly a goal threat against Everton. By failing to inspire his team, the Frenchman cost United the game.
#1 Nemanja Matic
Manchester United had lost recent games due to a lack of maturity in the middle. United needed someone sensible to allow the youngsters in the team to play intelligent football. Nemanja Matic, it must be said, was the ideal player to do that.
The Serbian was calm, composed and had the ability to protect his defense. It was only fair that Solskjaer decided to put Matic in his natural midfield anchor role against Everton, but the Serbian cost him the game.
The home team came at United right from the kick off. The away defense was put under immense pressure, because Matic was unable to stop the midfield runners from bombing into the box. The Serbian failed to intercept the passes and was often extremely slow. He normally dictates the midfield and dominates the play from deep, but against Everton, Matic failed to do either.
The Serbian’s ineffectiveness was especially exposed for the second goal, when he afforded Sigurdsson too much time and space to score from distance. Matic failed to provide his defense any cover against Everton, was unable to dictate play from deep and ultimately cost United the game.