Manchester United suffered a new low after being beaten 1-0 by relegation-threatened Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday lunchtime.
Anthony Gordon’s deflected effort in the first-half was enough to clinch a priceless three points for the Toffees, meaning United’s hopes of securing Champions League football for next season now hang by a thread. Gordon’s 27th-minute effort deflected off Harry Maguire, wrong-footed David de Gea and found the back of the net.
Everton, although they had to watch United dominate the ball for long spells, were worthy winners in their quest to avoid relegation. They showed terrific levels of heart, desire and energy to dig in deep and get over the line.
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For United, however, it was a new low, even after forgettable defeats against the likes of Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City and Watford already this season. Despite having a cluster of first-half chances, United struggled to impose themselves, meaning they have taken just nine points from a possible 21 this term against the Premier League’s current bottom-four.
Their hopes of getting into the Champions League now hang by an ever-shrinking piece of thread. And with the way things are currently going, a Europa League place might not even be achievable.
On yet another afternoon to forget, there might have been some moments that you failed to spot. With that said, MEN Sport has taken a close look at four things that might have passed you by.
Schmeichel and Arnold’s embrace
Ahead of kick-off, legendary former United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel was in conversation with chief executive Richard Arnold in the directors’ box. The topic of the conversation is, of course, unknown, but it was good to see Arnold engaging with a former player who knows the club so well.
Arnold, who took over from Ed Woodward just over two months ago on February 1, has the challenge of overseeing a new dawn at Old Trafford from this summer, starting with the expected appointment of Erik ten Hag. If the defeat to Everton taught him anything, however, it is that United need to make big, big changes to the squad over the coming months.
Mata shows his class
Ahead of making his first Premier League appearance in almost 12 months, Juan Mata used all of his experience to try and inject some energy and motivation into Anthony Elanga, who was coming off the bench at the same time. They each came on just past the hour mark to replace Nemanja Matic and Marcus Rashford, respectively.
As they waited for the contest to reach a momentary pause to be allowed to enter the fray, Mata took a moment to showcase his experience and support for a player 14 years his junior. The former Chelsea man put an arm around Elanga, had a quiet word in his ear and then tapped him on the head three times.
Although it was just a little moment, it wasn’t one that should go unnoticed. Mata shared all of his experience and know-how with the youngster as United searched for a route back into the game.
Shortly after Mata and Elanga had come off the bench, fellow substitute Paul Pogba, who came off the bench in the first-half to replace the injured Fred, had to stop himself, potentially, from earning a second yellow card and being sent-off. That is because the France international, after grappling Dominic Calvert-Lewin and climbing all over the back of him, picked up the ball and drew his fist towards it.
He clenched his fist but withdrew the punch just as he looked set to strike the ball, perhaps remembering that he could have earned another yellow card for doing so. He was booked earlier in the second-half for bringing down Gordon.
The Everton youngster was looking to move the home side up the pitch and was clipped by the midfielder. Pogba was not impressed by referee Jonathan Moss’ decision, but he could not have any complaints.
United fans have had enough
Their top-four hopes now hang by a thread. United knew anything other than a win at Goodison Park, ahead of their rivals playing later in the day, would spell deep trouble.
Despite having a flurry of chances in the first-half, United struggled to carve out many openings after the restart. It was all too slow and lumbered, resulting in United’s fans taking aim at the owners – and not for the first time this season.
With a little over 10 minutes remaining, cries of ‘we want Glazers out’ began to ring out from the away end. United’s supporters have had enough, they want to see major changes made and they cannot come soon enough. It is now just one win in their last five league matches and the levels of entertainment have been practically non-existent.
And things remain heated at full-time. There was several angry gestures from the away end as the players trudged back towards the dressing room. There was, however, some applause.