If this was Everton’s first preseason friendly of the summer, this would not have been a problem. But the fact that we are just a week away from the season opener should fill Rafa Benitez and Evertonians everywhere with concern.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin picked up a minor toe injury in training while there was no official explanation why Moise Kean, Andre Gomes and Jean-Philippe Gbamin were not in the matchday squad.
While it wouldn’t be fair to make too many sweeping conclusions from a warmup game, there was plenty to see and talk about here as a polished Manchester United side swept the visiting Toffees aside quite easily.
Jordan Pickford was making his first appearance for the Blues after his return to training following a successful summer away with England at the European Championship, but looked very rusty early on. He dropped a headed backpass right at Mason Greenwood’s feet to allow the young forward to put the home side ahead after just eight minutes.
Seconds later he dropped a bouncing shot and almost allowed Anthony Martial to make it two, but did well to put the forward off. The defence stepped in instead with a litany of errors of their own after that though, first allowing Harry Maguire to head home unmarked from a corner and then concede a silly freekick just outside the box which Bruno Fernandes easily deposited in the top corner. 3-0 with less than half an hour played and the rout was on.
To Everton’s credit, they did pull it together somewhat and created a few chances of their own. With no recognized strikers on the pitch, the false 9 experiment was a resounding failure though Alex Iwobi, Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend all looked bright creating chances.
All three of Everton’s signings over the summer have played well in the friendlies so far, looking like they have a point to prove to the new manager and that continued today too. With Richarlison expected to miss at least a couple of weeks for the Blues, that is a good sign for the Blues.
Late on another defensive error allowed United to grab a fourth in time added on from a corner that really wasn’t, but that didn’t matter, the Blues shipped four goals anyway.
The players all have minutes under their belts now with the new season rapidly approaching, but Benitez will leave Old Trafford today knowing that he still has a lot of work to do ahead of Southampton’s visit a week from today.