There was no fool in a Grim Reaper costume waving an imitation scythe behind the away dug-out, as there had been five years ago to this day when Manchester United’s desultory defeat here brought the curtain down on David Moyes’ brief and unhappy time at the club’s helm.
But this was still enough to make you wonder whether Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is destined for anything better than the three United managers who have struggled in Sir Alex Ferguson’s long shadow.
Solskjaer’s assistant Mike Phelan looked the picture of dressed-down relaxation in his United shorts before the game but it was a display to shock anyone out of a sunny countenance.
Theo Walcott slipped the ball under the onrushing David De Gea to pick out the bottom corner and wrap up Everton’s victory
The former Arsenal man took two touches before sliding the ball home and registering Everton’s fourth of the afternoon
The Spaniard could only look back as the ball rolled into the bottom corner and put Everton cleanly out of sight
Scenes inside a sun-baked Goodison hit fever pitch as Evertonians realised their team had got the job done
Lucas Digne made stunning contact from the ball after a corner clearance, to score Everton’s third goal on Easter Sunday
The full-back was mobbed by Seamus Coleman and Morgan Schneiderlin after hitting the back of the net from distance
The game was all over inside half an hour; claimed by the side who were sharper, stronger, wiser. As it played out you wondered, yet again, how on earth United have managed to squander so many millions since Ferguson walked away.
The only three remnants of the Moyes team that lost 2-0 on Easter Day 2014 were David de Gea, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones and there was a deep significance about that. De Gea, the only player of consistent world class in United’s dark post-Ferguson era, is the one they managed to keep, against all the odds.
Smalling and Jones are the pairing they somehow never managed to lose. They are no more players of world class – Manchester United class – than they were when Ferguson signed them and their continued presence is a metaphor for the way that the side once feared across the nation have become so terribly average.
They’d both been given the run-around by Everton’s rapid, inventive forwards when Smalling’s failure to cope with a long throw by Lucas Digne, on the Everton left, created the danger which saw the home team go ahead.
MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS AND MATCH ZONE
EVERTON (4-2-3-1): Pickford 6; Coleman 7, Keane 6, Zouma 6.5, Digne 7 (Jagielka 84); Schneiderlin 6, Gueye 6.5 (McCarthy 76 6); Richarlison 6.5 (Walcott 51 6.5)`Sigurdsson 8.5, Bernard 7.5; Calvert-Lewin 6.5
SUBS NOT USED: Tosun, Stekelenburg, Davies, Lookman
GOALS: Richarlison 13, Sigurdsson 29, Digne 55, Walcott 64
MANAGER: Marco Silva 7
MANCHESTER UNITED (4-1-2-3): De Gea 6.5; Dalot 6, Smalling 5.5, Jones 5 (Young 46 6), Lindelof 6; Matic 5.5, Fred 5.5 (McTominay 6), Pogba 6; Rashford 6 (Perreira 77 5.5), Lukaku 5, Martial 6
SUBS NOT USED: Sanchez, Mata, Lingard, Romero
MANAGER: Ole Gunnar Solskajer 6
REFEREE: Paul Tierney 7
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Gylfi Siguardsson picked out the bottom corner as Everton doubled their lead against United. CLICK HERE for more from MATCH ZONE
Smalling was beaten to throw-in by Dominic Calvert-Lewin, whose flick on was hooked in by Richarlison’s acrobatic scissor-kick, as Victor Lindelof’s reactions also failed him.
It was the Brazilian’s 13th Premier League goal of the season. Not one of United’s strikers has matched that tally. Only Paul Pogba has reached it.
The defence was the source of most concern, though. Everton’s opener was the 45th the visiting side had conceded – more than in any other Manchester United league campaign. The manager said heading into this weekend that he did not needs a tide of new signings this summer – certainly not six, he said – but United were vulnerable every time Everton ran at them.
Gylfi Sigurdsson doubled Everton’s lead on the half-hour mark with a stunning long-range effort into the bottom corner
Manchester United players allowed the No 10 space to operate and Siguardsson picked out the bottom corner from distance
The Icelandic star peeled away in celebration as Goodison Park erupted into a mass of noise and hysteria
Lucas Digne eased away from Jones to establish the opportunity which doubled Everton’s lead. He located Gylfi Sigurdsson, who was allowed several yards of space to run into as Nemanja Matic stood off.
The Icelander struck a shot from 30-yards, to De Gea’s right, which crept just inside the post. The goalkeeper might have done better though the cardinal sin was Matic’s.
United could not offer a fraction of the intensity. Paul Pogba, largely invisible, conjured one diagonal 40-yard cross-field piece for Marcus Rashford, who lifted the ball over with his right outstep having ventured into the Everton box.
When Romelu Lukaku faced a footrace for a 50:50 ball with Seamus Coleman, it was diminutive one of the two who won it, to the unrestrained delight of the home support. It was not the first challenge between the pair which the Irishman would win.
Brazilian forward Richarlison had earlier opened the scoring for Everton with a sublime acrobatic effort in the area
United defenders could only watch on as Richarlison found the space in which to pull off the audacious effort
The view of goalkeeper David De Gea was slightly impeded by his defenders as the ball made its way through on goal
In a flash De Gea was beaten by the shot and the back of the net began to ripple as Richarlison hit the turf
Richarlison headed off to the corner of Goodison as the adoring home supporters began to chant his name
The 21-year-old let out an adrenaline-fueled roar after breaking the deadlock and putting Everton in the driving seat
United talisman Paul Pogba was left frustrated and immediately began asking questions of his team-mates
On the touchline Ole Gunnar Solskjaer tried desperately to get things back under control for his side
United executive vice-chariman Ed Woodward was also present and watched on from the stands in the old stadium
But it was the sight of Jones injuring himself, in the process of ploughing wildly into the excellent Bernard, which seemed to say most. Ashley Young arrived in his place after half-time, in a double substitution which saw Scott McTominay on for Fred, who had shipped water at the back of midfield.
Everton simply continued where they had left off. Digne extended the lead four minutes before the hour, allowing a ball punched out by de Gea to bounce once before lashing it back past him, under no real challenge from an advancing Anthony Martial.
Sigurdsson was integral to the fourth, nutmegging Victor Lindelof during a brilliant exchange of possession down the left before the rolling the ball in for substitute Theo Walcott to finish.
It would have been five, had not de Gea sprinted across his goal-line to kick away a corner which Sigurdsson almost sent directly in.
By the end, the travelling United fans had found voice and their old Solskjaer anthems though many will have left with questions about whether he is up to such a task. The manager had said United needed a wake-up call but did not remotely imagine something as brutal as this.
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