The late Jerry Reed once released a song entitled “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot” – and no truer words could possibly be spoken about Marco Silva’s Everton of late. Just a few weeks ago, Silva’s position at the club seemed questionable, and the Toffees faced a nightmare run of home fixtures against Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd – not the type of fixture list a manager under pressure would be hoping to see! Having now emerged from that run of games with three wins and one draw – and without conceding a single goal in the process – Everton fans will be delighted with the football their team has been playing against some of England’s top teams. Everton have been the club of the week several times in the last month or so, and beat Man Utd 4-0 this weekend.
Man Utd’s honeymoon period with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the helm now seems very much over as the cold, hard reality of the job facing the Norwegian comes into sharp focus. When the Red Devils made the short trip over to Merseyside one could be forgiven for assuming United would get the points, but their recent dip in form continued as noticeable as Everton’s recent upturn, with the Reds looking listless and distinctly underwhelming. Richarlison had been denied by a wonderful save from David de Gea before volleying the hosts in front after 13 minutes, and the hosts never looked back. Former Swansea forward Gylfi Sigurdsson doubled the lead 15 minutes later, and the second half would start in very similar fashion to the first.
Lucas Digne made it 3-0 11 minutes into the second half, with Theo Walcott rounding off the comfortable win by making it 4-0 just eight minutes later. United had very little to offer in the way of competitive spirit, while Everton just showed class in droves. This was the first time the Toffees had beaten the Red Devils since 26th April, 2015 when they would win 3-0 at Goodison Park. Playing for Everton that day was Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku, who found himself on the losing end of things in the red of United this weekend. To focus too much on United’s shortcomings would be doing a real disservice to Everton, however – while a top six finish is not going to happen for them this season, their performance levels of late show that goal could be a genuine target for the 2019-20 campaign.
As for Solskjaer, however, he really does seem to have his work cut out if United are to head anywhere near their past glories again. Several of their players seem unable to cut it at the level the United faithful wish to see their side at, and while Solskjaer certainly brought the feelgood factor back to the club when he returned to replace Jose Mourinho back in December he has seemed unable to gee the players up to the point of replicating that stunning early form before he was given the job on a permanent basis. There is no questioning that he will give the job anything less than 100%, but the size of the task at hand seems to loom larger with each passing week as the Red Devils drop points and position in their quest for Champions League football.
The Europa League next season is a very real possibility for them, and that would be a shame considering how well they brought themselves back into Champions League contention after Christmas. Solskjaer has arguably one of the toughest jobs in football at the moment as he seeks to deliver on what the club’s very expectant supports demand. Champions League qualification would ease that along, but with only a few games left to get back into that position, this should perhaps be looked at as a transitional season for the club. The same could arguably be said of Everton, but they seem to be a side very clearly in the ascendancy at present.
Challenge the best EPL Fantasy Managers at www.fantasy-premier.com!