Pickford heroics can't hold back red tide at Old Trafford

08/04/2023 37comments  |  Jump to last
Man Utd 2 - 0 Everton

An uncharacteristic error from Seamus Coleman allowed Manchester United to kill the game with 20 minutes to go

Everton were beaten for the third time in all competitions by Manchester United this season as the Red Devils’ clear superiority told with a result that could have been a lot worse for Sean Dyche’s men.

Time and again, United exploited a suicidally high line from Everton and only a man-of-the-match display from Jordan Pickford kept the score to just 1-0 at half-time as the hosts registered 21 shots in the first half alone and the highest xG (2.42) of any team in the Premier League this season.

Scott McTominay finished off an incisive passing move nine minutes before the break but the visitors were still in the game with 20 minutes to go, until an uncharacteristic error from Seamus Coleman allowed Marcus Rashford to tee up Anthony Martial for the killer second goal.

Dyche had handed striking responsibilities to Ellis Simms and the young striker had a gilt-edged chance to put Everton ahead after 20 minutes but he dragged it wide on what was a predictably difficult afternoon for the visitors.

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Everton began with an energetic press designed to try and unsettled Erik ten Hag’s men but United responded by pinging a series of balls over the top of the Blues’ defence and had it not been for Pickford, they could have been out of sight by the halfway stage.

The England international laid down a marker with a one-handed save to push Marcel Sabitzer’s shot wide with just two minutes gone, followed that up with an excellent stop to deny Rashford and then had to be alert to punch the ball away from the striker’s head as United kept the move alive.

Amadou Onana might have done better with a header from a free-kick after Coleman had been fouled but back down the other end, Alex Iwobi’s terrific covering challenge took the ball off the toe of Rashford and from the resulting corner, Antony bounced a shot off the post and Aaron Wan-Bissaka somehow screwed the rebound across the face of goal and past the other upright.

Having survived a number of scares, Everton could have taken the lead when Simms collected a return pass from Coleman and found himself with just David de Gea to beat but the moment got the better of him and he choked an effort that dribbled past the far post.

The Red Devils then resumed their raids on the Blues’ back line, with Antony playing Sabitzer in but Pickford foiling the Austrian again and the keeper then making himself big again a minute later to block the Brazilian’s goal-bound shot.

Antony was in again three minutes later off a raking pass from De Gea that caught Ben Godfrey out but the makeshift left-back recovered well to snuff out the opportunity and Everton survived again amid calls for handball as a shot was blocked in their six-yard box.

The game still wasn’t half an hour old when Rashford raced onto yet another ball over the top but Pickford was there again to save with a trailing foot as the scoreline somehow remained goalless.

The deadlock would be broken eight minutes later, however, when United were finally able to prise open the Toffees’ defence as Jadon Sancho picked out the run of McTominay behind the inattentive Onana and the Scot rifled a shot inside Pickford’s near post to make it 1-0.

One more ball lofted over Everton’s back line threatened to make it 2-0 in first-half stoppage time but, once again, Pickford was there to palm a shot from Antony behind.

Dyche moved to address some of his side’s defensive disorganisation by withdrawing Godfrey at the break and introducing Vitalii Mykolenko while, from an attacking perspective, Iwobi had already moved inside off the right flank to trade places with Demarai Gray late in the first half.

Everton were certainly able to stem the barrage of balls played in behind their back line and had the first opening of the second half when James Tarkowski rosed highest to meet a corner but couldn’t keep his header down.

Dyche then replaced Onana and the gritty Idrissa Gueye, who was the standout outfield player in an otherwise poor display, with Tom Davies and James Garner.

Iwobi drilled a shot that was deflected after Simms had mis-kicked in the box before Pickford was there again to push a Bruno Fernandes header over his crossbar and then make a more routine stop from Wan-Bissaka.

With his side still very much in the game, Dyche made his last significant change when he threw Neal Maupay on for Simms but just a minute later, the contest was effectively over following a momentary lack of concentration from Coleman.

The skipper allowed the ball to squirm under his foot as he tried to trap a ball forward by the opposition and that let Rashford in behind with the simple task of squaring the ball for Martial to plant it past Pickford.

Gray had a half chance to reduce the arrears with a quarter of an hour to go but dragged his effort wide with his weaker left foot and Coleman tested De Gea with a crisp shot from distance but United were comfortably ahead and secured the points.

Though he would have fancied his side’s chances of perhaps grabbing a point off United, it’s unlikely Dyche would have highlighted this game as one where Everton could grab all three points. The Red Devils haven't been this good in attacking sense in this fixture for many years and, for the most part, the Blues couldn't live with them, particularly in the first half.

Nevertheless, this was a performance more reminiscent of the collapse at Arsenal last month in terms of the defensive disorganisation on show and some individual errors, and with some of the results elsewhere on the day not going in the Blues’ favour, it heightens the importance of games like next weekend’s clash with Fulham, with Everton sitting above the drop zone only on goal difference.


Reader Comments (37)

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Frank Sheppard
2 Posted 08/04/2023 at 18:01:04
Never in it really, never any chance of any points. Not a disaster.
Clive Rogers
3 Posted 08/04/2023 at 18:32:48
Very poor performance. Another game with no shots on goal. No creativity.
Paul Hewitt
4 Posted 08/04/2023 at 18:49:35
United are 3 rd in the league, and even though we lost we are not in the bottom 3. 2 games coming up I can see us getting 6 points from.
Ralph Basnett
5 Posted 08/04/2023 at 19:31:40
Paul, I think it’s more like two games we have to wing. Results around us have not helped o we need to get out of this mess ourselves and not rely on others.
Tony Abrahams
6 Posted 08/04/2023 at 19:33:31
I couldn’t understand us playing 4-4-2, and I definitely couldn’t understand us playing a high line, when we haven’t really got any pace at the back.

I thought we should have tried to frustrate United by defending deep, and staying compact, before then trying to hit them on the counter attack, or with balls down the Chanels, trying to use the pace of both Grey and Simms, to exploit McGuire, but we never did.

I couldn’t understand it because it went against everything that it looks like Dyche, has been trying to instill into us, even if the gulf in quality was absolutely massive today.

Barry Hesketh
7 Posted 08/04/2023 at 19:37:54
We need to win at least two of our remaining games at Goodison and not lose any away in the run-in and even then it will be touch and go, currently Leicester are the main rivals and they have a superior goal difference. it's certainly no fun being in this position so late in the season, but we've still got a chance, so we keep on hoping it will end well.
Barry Hesketh
8 Posted 08/04/2023 at 19:58:51
Tony @6
I see that Dyche wanted us to defend from the front and he felt that having two up top would help that plan, I don't agree with him, not with this Everton side, leaving gaps in midfield and pushing up just doesn't suit us at all.

On those writing off some teams based on current positions, there are 86 matches to be played and the bottom nine clubs encounter each other in 18 of them, Everton have to play four Bournemouth, Palace, Leicester and Wolves, so there's plenty of twists and turns to go before any team can be ruled out or in.

Rob Dolby
9 Posted 08/04/2023 at 20:04:10
Tony 6. Totally agree after 10 mins it was so obvious we where far too high up the pitch.

I didn't mind the starting 11 just didn't get why we had to play so high up the pitch. Every long ball was a threat.

I just can't understand those tactics against a good counter attacking side.

Godfrey had to come off at half time. Getting caught continually with the ball over his head showed a real lack of positioning as a pro footballer.

2nd half we had a better shape but lesser threat. Coleman's mistake effectively ending the game as a contest.

It wasn't a mauling thanks to an inspired performance from Pickford. We are still in the mix. Roll the sleeves up and move on.

I'd probably pick the same side next week but not be so high or open, win the midfield battle and try to play. No Mitrovich is a bonus.

Tony Abrahams
10 Posted 08/04/2023 at 20:13:40
The first thing we learned at Forest, was to defend our own half Barry, by getting eleven men behind the ball, and especially away from home against the better teams.

I’ve seen Michael Oliver give penalties against Jagielka, for a lot less than the one McGuire, got away with today when he body checked Demari Gray, but the best way to exploit McGuire, is with pace down the sides and over the top, and I think we would have had more opportunities of doing this, by defending deep and trying to hit United quickly on the counter attack?

I thought United were very good today though, and they impressed me with some of their little reverse switches, so I think maybe even defending deep might have also been a problem today.

Jim Bennings
11 Posted 08/04/2023 at 20:55:46
I'll bet Dyche can't wait for the season to end and hope to God we can stay up.

I don't know what punishment the Premier League will give us but a transfer embargo would be equally as killing to us as a points deduction (obviously not if it sends us down).

But this team is crying out for goals in it, genuine attacking creative players that look like scoring goals.

I'd actually trust Dyche to get the right type of characters in too, so it would be a massive shame if he's not allowed that this summer because I doubt this squad would survive another season anyway.

Phil Wood
12 Posted 08/04/2023 at 20:57:13
Fact is we have come a long way under Sean Dyche. But like any team with stretched resources we can hit a limit and this was today.
United were on top form and would have tested most teams.
More points to be played for. Onwards and upwards.
Also Jordan was brilliant.
Ben King
13 Posted 08/04/2023 at 22:37:54
Think we're all seeing what an amazing job Dyche is doing without an experienced striker and without a goal scorer or someone to hold the ball up. The whole thing is a proper stress because we don't have creativity or a regular goalscorer

The whole thing is maddening because even Rondon could have been an option. I'm not saying anything new here but the clowns running the club have totally screwed us over. It's hard to imagine a more difficult assignment than ‘Keep Everton up'.

It's mad that our players make so many unforced errors when passing the ball. It's really does make one wonder how they made it as professionals.

Just have to hope Dyche can make a silk purse from a sow's ear.

Barry Hesketh
14 Posted 08/04/2023 at 22:56:56
I agree with those that say Dyche is doing quite a job, not quite as good as some may have wanted but a far better job than Frank was doing here.

Look at the facts: nine games played mostly against sides competing for Europe, with only two against fellow strugglers and he has 'amassed' a dozen points, compare that with the measly 15 points that Frank gained after 21 matches played.

If we can get ten to a dozen points from the final eight games, we'll probably survive, if only just.

Come on Blues there's plenty to play for.

Barry Hesketh
15 Posted 08/04/2023 at 23:51:30
Ten games under Dyche, I knew it was incorrect when I typed it but the list I was reading didn't include today's game. Anyway it's 1.2 points per game for Dyche compared with Lampard's 0.75 Points per game.

As it stood when Dyche took over, all the teams involved at the bottom had played 20 save Leeds who had played 19. Palace were 9 points ahead of Everton, Forest 6, Leicester and West Ham 3 ahead, whilst Wolves and Bournemouth were 2 points ahead with Southampton level with Everton on 15 points.

Since Dyche arrived, the teams at the foot have added the following points total:

Wolves 14.
Bournemouth 13
Everton 12
Leeds Utd 11
Southampton 8
West Ham Utd 7
Leicester City 7
Nottingham Forest 6
Crystal Palace 6

Ernie Baywood
16 Posted 09/04/2023 at 00:33:26
We can all have a view of how the game might have gone with a different approach. The high line was a bit of a surprise, but I can see the logic behind it.

If we'd sat back, Man Utd have enough quality in their midfield to play through us. Unfortunately, individual errors and lapses in concentration meant that they didn't need to be particularly good – old fashioned Sunday league "launch it behind the full-backs" was more than enough to undo us. I was pleased to see Dyche drag Godfrey – his effort and concentration was completely unacceptable.

Pickford and some good fortune kept the score down and maybe if we'd managed to snag a goal at that point, things could have been different. Simms should have done better, and we had a lot of set piece opportunities that we didn't do much with. Not sure why we went back to Gray whipping balls over when McNeil's hanging deliveries have brought so much joy recently.

Just a weird game. Forget it. Move on.

Don Alexander
17 Posted 09/04/2023 at 02:52:00
Just what is the fucking point in comparing one hapless manager's points' stats against his predecessor's as we continue in the ultra-boring latest relegation "contest" devolved on us by Moshiri, year after year, courtesy of the boardroom he continues to employ to deal with, in Moshiri's own words, 95% of our problems?

If somehow these incompetent muppets actually appointed Jesus H Christ himself as our manager, it'd only take one season before they decided to crucify him rather than take themselves into accountability.

Hope is dead under Moshiri and Kenwright.

Their White Elephant Stadium, and our future, is hopeless whilst they're in charge.

Barry Hesketh
18 Posted 09/04/2023 at 06:16:22
Eric @16,

I sort of see your point, but yesterday's game has actually caused me some pause for thought: What if Jordan hadn't have kept the score down? We might have suffered a really confidence-sapping heavy defeat, not to mention inflicted a goal deficit that might have been crippling to our future in the Premier League.

Everybody knows that Man Utd are a pacy outfit when given oceans of space to play into and, for me, Dyche's tactics were suicidal in nature. I think the commentators said the first half produced 26 chances for the home team – a record number in any game this season. I stand to be corrected on that information if I misheard him.

I haven't seen such a game since Martinez was in charge, and I can't, for the life of me, understand why Dyche opted for the open game plan. The only thing I can think of is that he knew energy levels were way down and it was his way of combating the impact of that?

It could have been catastrophic, but we got away with it, albeit we ended pointless.

Don, have another sherry mate and calm down.

Rob Dolby
19 Posted 09/04/2023 at 07:06:41
Don @17. Just to add a bit of context:

United starting 11.
Goalie: £300k per week
Right-back: £50M
Left-back: £30M
Centre-backs: £75M & £55M
Right-midfield: £75M
Left-midfield: £95M
Centre-midfield: £50M
Centre-midfield: On loan
Centre-midfield: Academy
Striker: Academy

Subs: £50M, £35M, centre-back a World Cup winner.
Suspended centre-midfielder on £400k per week.

Man Utd are almost £1B in debt and can continue to spend.

We haven't broken our £45M transfer record in 5 years.
Have a wealthy owner who can't invest in the team, restricted due to Financial Fair Play!

Financial fair play for who? Is it to protect ourselves from over-spending or is it to protect the elite?

Tony Abrahams
20 Posted 09/04/2023 at 09:54:49
Just because I criticize doesn’t mean I don’t think Dyche, is doing an absolutely fantastic job. I just gave my opinion that he got it badly wrong yesterday, but he’s not a silly man and he might have even been using yesterday’s game as a free hit, to determine a few things about his squad of players.

I actually doubt this, because he completely went away from a system that has had his players protecting each other by staying close together, and making his team hard to play against, and this definitely wasn’t the case yesterday?

Ben@13, says the most sensible thing, when he says that it’s hard to imagine a more difficult assignment than keeping Everton up, so if Sean Dyche achieves this, he will have done an extraordinary job imo, and hopefully he can be the man who will bring stability back into Everton Football Club. (Even if we get relegated, I’d keep Dyche, because I believe he his what we have needed for years)

Barry if your energy levels are down, you want your mate next to you and not 15/20 yards away. I would anyway but I couldn’t run!

Tony Abrahams
21 Posted 09/04/2023 at 10:00:43
How much did that Sabitzer, cost Rob? He was the player who impressed me the most yesterday.
Robert Tressell
22 Posted 09/04/2023 at 10:34:39
I'm in the same sort of place Tony. Yesterday's set up and approach surprised me a bit. Dyche got it wrong and a few of the players got found out - although I suspect Man Utd would have outplayed us however we set up. They really have become very good and Sabitzer is a fine addition to an already excellent side.

Overall though, Dyche is doing a very good job for us. We've been outclassed just twice since he took over - yesterday and the RS game.

In each case the opposition had far superior players and played well. Unfortunately we cannot live with that.

Unfortunately we were never going to race up the table to safety but the remaining games - with Dyche at the helm - give us a good chance of staying up.

Chris Leyland
23 Posted 09/04/2023 at 10:37:18
Robert Tressell - what about Arsenal away? I think we were absolutely outclassed there too
Jim Bennings
24 Posted 09/04/2023 at 10:51:11
I think you have to credit what Dyche is trying to do.

Do we look more resilient and competitive?

In most games yes, away to Arsenal, Liverpool and United no, we've turned up and been beaten before the game started really.

I can see what Dyche is attempting, and at least they look a bit more mentally stronger.

Compared to Lampard and his first 10 games I'm not sure the points total is much greater?

Lampard beat Chelsea, Leeds, Man United, Newcastle so I think it's about the same?

Steve Brown
25 Posted 09/04/2023 at 11:11:48
Dyche’s 10 fixtures in charge have included Arsenal (H), Liverpool (A), Chelsea (A), Spurs (H) and Man Utd (A). He has managed to secure 5 points from those games.

He has done really well to put us in a position where we may survive, given his starting point. If he manages to lift us out or not, he has to stay.

However, he did get in wrong on Saturday switching to a midfield two. He should put Garner into a midfield 3 and hopefully get DCL onto the bench at home to Fulham. They have lost their 4 four league games by the way.

Eric Myles
26 Posted 09/04/2023 at 11:35:13
Steve #25, it always worries me when we come up against a team on poor form.

Lost their last 4 you say, do they also have a striker that has not scored yet this season?

Nailed on cert 1-0 to Fulham with that striker scoring the winner.

Everton that.

Joe McMahon
27 Posted 09/04/2023 at 11:37:56
Eric, correct Everton are the gift that keeps giving. I really don't know why this is.
John Williams
28 Posted 09/04/2023 at 11:45:59
Still do not rate Onana, disappears from the game to often.
Surely worth giving Garner a run, much better at passing
and more likely a better header of the ball than Onana.
Robert Tressell
29 Posted 09/04/2023 at 11:56:50
Chris, you're right I overlooked the Arsenal away game. Same principle.

Jim Bennings
30 Posted 09/04/2023 at 11:58:54
I'd give James Garner time now too, depending on where he's at fitness-wise.

The thing that has been disappointing with Onana all season has been not so much his ability but his lack of nuisance factor and his lazy demeanour.

Being young means there will always be a greenness, yes, but at his age, he should be busting a gut most games and the size of him, he should be a threat aerially but he plays games like he's watching from the sidelines.

I'd take him out when Doucouré is back and start going with Garner and Gana next to Doucouré and see if we can start grabbing control of some games.

Steve Brown
31 Posted 09/04/2023 at 13:54:37
Haha true Eric, if there is a goal famine or a poor run of form to be broken then Everton are happy to oblige.

There was even an episode of Ted Lasso where Richmond FC had been on a terrible run until they visited Goodisin Park.

Mark Ryan
32 Posted 09/04/2023 at 16:09:39
Why are we still showing adverts for Hummel Home kit with Anthony Gordon standing front and centre. Are we that uninterested in selling shirts. It's small beer but come on Everton
Barry Hesketh
33 Posted 09/04/2023 at 22:24:09
Jim @24
Lampard won 3 and lost 7 of his first ten league games in charge of Everton, he then went on to win 3 and draw 2 of the last 8 of the season, which if Dyche repeated the same this season might be enough to keep us up. The more important comparison in Frank's first 18 league games and Dyche's is that Frank had at least one of Gordon, Richarlison or Dominic available to him and sometimes all three at the same time. Following thirty games last season we had 28 points just a point ahead of where we are today, which is some feat for a side with a next to zero goal threat.
Si Cooper
34 Posted 09/04/2023 at 00:18:30
Metaphorically, we never laid a glove on them, and that was disappointing. Also dismayed by poor defending for their first. Onana switched off but Keane dropped too deep and was too slow to notice McTomminay advancing into a dangerous area.
Hopefully Dyche has some remedies. Some things you cannot easily prevent but we’ve got to eliminate making life easy for our opponents.
Craig Walker
35 Posted 10/04/2023 at 13:00:38
I just wish we had got Dyche in during the World Cup. We'd have got points against Wolves and Leicester at Goodison and had a fitter squad, earlier.

I tend to be a pessimistic Blue but I think we might have too much to do to stay up. Any scenario would surely need wins against Fulham and Bournemouth: sounds easy but I fear if we go a goal down in those games.

Newcastle at home looks really difficult the way they are playing. Man City are likely to beat us. We're then looking at away games and I never fancy us away from home. I know we tend to find a way but this is agonising looking at other fixtures, especially given the few options we have up front.

It's sad that we are in the same position as last season with a weaker squad. I was all for giving Lampard time but I think it might well have cost us not getting rid of him sooner.

Neil Lawson
36 Posted 10/04/2023 at 17:08:19
Tom Cannon scoring goals for fun. Yet another great decision letting him go out on loan, and you can choose whether that comment is sarky or well intentioned for the future.
Eric Haworth
37 Posted 10/04/2023 at 21:37:53
Si #34 I’m likewise dismayed by the whole set-up on Saturday. Having drilled the team since he arrived into a low-block disciplined unit that better suited our defenders, and yielded some valuable points.

Sean Dyche then chose to abandon it and revert to a high press style that’s already had disastrous consequences for his predecessor and be shown to be totally unsuited to the personnel at his disposal, and in none other fixture than an away game at Man Utd.

It beggars belief and harks back to some of the insanity under his predecessor, and it was only the heroic’s of Pickford and a lot of good fortune, that we weren’t 3 or 4 down by half time.

We were continually undone in the first half by a stream of simple balls over the top into the acre’s of space behind, and the improvements we’ve seen in recent performances with a low block was a thing of the past.

The likes of Michael Keane’s lack of pace was badly exposed as he reverted to the hapless, pedestrian, reactive excuse of a defender that we’d previously become accustomed, and as for Ben Godfrey, his performance defied description.

Pragmatism was something that was in short supply under his predecessor, ultimately to his cost, and until Saturday it appeared it was something his replacement had in spades.

In simple terms if it works exploit it, and that’s been a low block, keeping it tight & exploiting either breakaways or set pieces, which has paid some dividends. It may not have the hallmark of the “school of science”, but that’s well and truly consigned to the annals of history, and if our recent style works and can keep us up, then we need to revert to it as a matter of urgency.

38 Posted 28/04/2023 at 11:09:55

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