On the day Manchester United reached 4,000 consecutive games with a youth team graduate in their matchday squad, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was indebted to the latest rising star from the club’s academy for rescuing his Jekyll and Hyde side from complete calamity.
United were staring at yet another defeat against a bottom-half club who sat back and asked to be broken down when Mason Greenwood was summoned from the substitutes’ bench. And within 12 minutes left, the teenage England Under-21 striker demonstrated the sort of nose for goal his team had been sorely lacking with a true centre-forward’s finish to spare Solskjaer a more severe inquest.
And so United are back to square one. Too good for Tottenham Hotspur and champions Manchester City last week but not nearly good enough here to dispatch an Everton team with one Premier League away win this term. Stifling this United team is not rocket science - give them the ball and let them tie themselves in knots. A win here would have moved themselves to within two points of fourth-placed Chelsea and dramatically boosted their Champions League prospects. Instead, they have now dropped 12 points against the bottom seven this term and remain hopelessly predictable.
If this was another bad day for Solskjaer, it was certainly another good one for Everton’s interim manager, Duncan Ferguson, and almost a great one. A fans’ favourite former striker restoring some cheer after a melancholy end to a Portuguese manager’s troubled reign? United know all about that particular script but, before the Merseysiders get drunk on the Ferguson feelgood factor and make any rash decisions, they should at least take note of the Solskjaer experiment post Jose Mourinho.
You would have thought Everton had won judging by the way Ferguson played to the Sky television cameras at the end, conducting an interview in full view of the travelling support before walking over to milk the applause and chants of “Love you, Duncan Ferguson”. Marco Silva was never afforded a reception like that.
Not that everyone of an Everton persuasion would have been feeling all misty eyed about Ferguson. Moise Kean had only been on the pitch 19 minutes before he was hauled off, the Everton striker and Ferguson refusing to look at each other before the player headed straight for the tunnel, head bowed and clearly seething at his treatment.
There were sixteen seconds on the clock when Jesse Lingard spun and shot wide of the post after Everton were caught cold from kick-off. If that goes in, it’s a different game. As it was, United proceeded to squander two more inviting chances in quick succession, first through Marcus Rashford, then Daniel James, within the opening 11 minutes before the whole piece became a familiar slog against emboldened opponents. They need an awful lot more, this United, but they absolutely require someone who can be trusted to put the ball in the net with ruthless frequency. Perhaps the Red Bull Salzburg striker, Erling Haaland, if he does plump for United over his many other suitors, can help on that front but, only 19 and with less than 100 career appearances to his name, he would still be a signing for the future.
What United would give in the shorter-term for a Harry Kane or Jamie Vardy, proven goal getters who make the difference time and again. Sure, United were unfortunate to trail at the interval, and doubtless aggrieved that Craig Pawson, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), had resolved, upon reviewing Everton’s goal, that there was no infringement by Dominic Calvert-Lewin on David De Gea. But wastefulness invariably comes back to hurt you and United had no one but themselves to blame as they resumed for the second half a goal down and with it all to do.
In the wake of that outstanding win against City, Solskjaer had looked a little frustratingly at a fixture list that pitches his side against a number of others with new managers at the helm over the coming weeks. Indeed, whatever comes of Ferguson at Everton, it is abundantly clear he is going to throw everything he has at the task of dragging the club he loves up the table. Those wrapped up in coats, hats and scarves as the rain beat down and the cold bit were doubtless looking at Ferguson with mild bemusement as he stalked the technical area sporting only a sharp suit jacket. But that had soon gone, too, the Scot perhaps wanting to make a point as he stripped down to a soon to be sodden white shirt while forcibly beckoning Everton’s travelling support to make some noise as his team won a corner.
United certainly did not look comfortable defending their own six-yard box and it was from a superb inswinging corner seven minutes later from Leighton Baines, a replacement for the injured Lucas Digne, that Everton took the lead. There was more than a whiff of Andy Hinchcliffe about Baines’s delivery - the sort of which Ferguson used to thrive on - but, while Calvert-Lewin probably should have been penalised for leaning on De Gea’s shoulder with his left arm, it really was a weak show of goalkeeping from the Spaniard.
He has never been the best coming for the aerial ball under pressure but this was the meekest attempt at a punch clear, an incident which recalled his first 18 months at Old Trafford when he was too often bullied in the air.
There was no doubting this was a huge second 45 minutes for United. Could they respond, could they find a way through Everton’s road block and win? They fell short of the latter but at least Greenwood stopped this from being a truly forgettable afternoon on a day when United were keen to trumpet their long-standing commitment to youth. Aside from Jordan Pickford saving an effort from Luke Shaw, United had looked short of ideas, the final shot count 24-8 flattering them. Anthony Martial was back to his infuriating worst and others laboured. Daniel James was still game, though, and it was from a quickfire burst from the United winger that Greenwood’s goal derived. James cut in from the right, zipping away from Alex Iwobi close to the penalty area and finding Greenwood’s feet. There is something of the Robin van Persie about Greenwood and that was evident in the way he controlled the ball before firing through Yerry Mina’s legs and into the bottom corner. An exquisite finish.
The questions, though, continue to stack up for Solskjaer. This was a chance to kick on, to show they can raise their game against the league’s strugglers, and they flunked it. Again.
The talented youngster impresses again...
7 - Mason Greenwood has scored seven goals for @ManUtd in all competitions this season; among teenagers for clubs in the big-five European leagues, only Jadon Sancho (11) and Gabriel Martinelli (8) have more in 2019-20. Talent. #MUNEVEpic.twitter.com/bws1SQnM56— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 15, 2019
Duncan Ferguson - still not in the frame?
Two games in charge, two great results. The passionate Scot is doing a fantastic job so far.
Should he be considered until the end of the season?
FULL TIME! Manchester United 1 Everton 1
A very good point for Everton and Manchester United won't be too disappointed after rescuing a point late on.
Both teams looked decent but limited.
90+4 min: Manchester United 1 Everton 1
Everton are camped in United's half, playing out for a draw in the corner now.
90+3 min: Manchester United 1 Everton 1
Rashford forces his way past a defender but Mata's return pass cannot find the striker.
Rashford is everywhere, he whips a cross in but it goes straight to the keeper. Everton break through Richarlison who wins a throw-in by the United box.
90+1 min: Manchester United 1 Everton 1
Four minutes of added time - which team is going to have the last chance?
Rashford whips a shot toward goal and Pickford gets down well.
89 min: Manchester United 1 Everton 1
Iwobi clears a ball across goal.
Kean is taken off despite only being on for about 15 minutes! Niasse is on. Kean is furious. Very strange, no injury and the Italian heads straight down the tunnel.
87 min: Manchester United 1 Everton 1
Calvert-Lewin is tripped by McTominay around 35 yards out from goal. Will Baines shoot from this distance?
Yes, but it is high and wide.
85 min: Manchester United 1 Everton 1
The corner is eventually cleared and it is Manchester United's turn to attack.
Fred plays a quality pass to Wan-Bissaka but his cross does not beat the first man. Better quality needed there.
Mata is on for James with not long to go.
84 min: Manchester United 1 Everton 1
Iwobi plays in Richarlison who is once again tackled by Wan-Bissaka. he is doing a good job against the Brazilian. And again he makes a strong tackle in the box!
Iwobi gets a shot away and de Gea tips it around the post for a corner. Good save.
Some light relief from the tension...
That HAS to hurt! ��— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) December 15, 2019
Jesse Lingard takes a shot from teammate Dan James right in the face! ��
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82 min: Manchester United 1 Everton 1
Calvert-Lewin lofts a cross in but de Gea claims it before unleashing his side down the left.
Everton then counter back - end to end stuff. Both sides want all three points it seems!
80 min: Manchester United 1 Everton 1
The home side attacks again, earning a free kick on the edge of the box. Pickford punches it away instead of just catching the shot straight at him - strange.
Old Trafford is loud, urging another goal to come.
Everton counter and Kean drives a low cross across the box but it is dealt with.
GOOOOOOAAAAAAL!!! GREENWOOD Manchester United 1 Everton 1
It is the super sub! Greenwood takes a touch on the edge of the box and drives a shot into the bottom corner. Brilliant finish - great composure from a young forward.
77 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 1
United are back on the attack but Mina heads away a cross and Everton force United to pass all the way back to de Gea - the fans did not like that.
James gets a shot away but it is so tame that Pickford stops it with his foot.
75 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 1
Wan-Bissaka is getting involved down the right but Everton are just about holding firm. The fans inside Old Trafford are starting to get frustrated.
McTominay gives the ball away and Richarlison pounces, running into the box. Wan-Bissaka saves the day with a last ditch slide tackle.
72 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 1
Greenwood wins another corner. The home side are really dominating now.
A terrible corner allows a counter and Everton should do better. Space opens up and Iwobi cannot play Calvert-Lewin in for a one on one. That was on.
70 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 1
Corner for United. The ball rolls to Lindelof who curves one towards the top corner but it does not come down in time - that would have made up for the own goal.
Kean is on for Bernard.
68 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 1
This match has really started to open up with both sides getting chances to attack. There is a lack of quality in the final third.
United have brought on Greenwood who sets up James for a shot that goes straight at Pickford.
66 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 1
Lindelof is booked for a physical challenge on Calvert-Lewin who has been very busy today. A performance Duncan Ferguson would be proud of...
Martial then attacks for the home side and goes down on the edge of box - the referee is not interested.
64 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 1
Calvert-Lewin drags a shot wide from the edge of the box. Better from Everton who have struggled to get out their half since the break.
62 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 1
It might be time for a change from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer...
United create two good chances but both shots are blocked. Lingard accidentally blocked the attempt of James with his face. Ouch.
60 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 1
Calvert-Lewin heads away Fred's corner. Maguire then wins another corner after a ball is put back into the box.
The home side desperately need something but Fred sends the corner far too long. McTominay rescues the ball from the touch line but they are pushed way back.
58 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 1
Mina goes down in the box but no decision is awarded - Maguire became tangled with him. Not too much in it.
Richarlison is booked for launching the ball into the crowd in frustration.
James drives down the right and wins a corner for his side.
56 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 1
It has been a sloppy start to the second half. Martial streaks away but is also ruled offside.
Davies is rolling around on the floor in agony - his ankle twisted nastily chasing back. He is back onto the field though.
McTominay fouls Holgate in the air and Everton have a free kick in United's half.
54 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 1
Keane sends the ball long but De Gea beats Calvert-Lewin to the ball.
McTominay releases Lingard but he is ruled offside.
52 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 1
Martial buys a foul from Baines. Soft but it gives an opportunity for a cross to be put in from near the corner flag.
Fred puts in a wicked cross but Maguire cannot quite get to it.
51 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 1
Ferguson takes off his jacket again, it is becoming a ritual of sorts.
Rashford fires from long range but the curve never arrived and it ends up going well wide.
49 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 1
Calvert-Lewin breaks from the half-way, driving away from the defenders with his pace. He is forced wide and loses control of the ball. Good tracking back from Lindelof in the end.
United work up the pitch and Wan Bissaka puts in an excellent cross. The ball is headed out to Fred who hits a half-volley well wide.
47 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 1
Everton attack down the left through Bernard - good intent from the off.
A stray pass allows Manchester United to counter and Bernard commits a foul to halt its progress.
Lingard releases Shaw down the left who wins a throw-in deep in enemy territory.
The second half is underway!
Everton get us restarted.
Will Everton sit back with their lead or go for more goals?
The away side looked capable of scoring again but the temptation to dig in to preserve what they have will be very large for Everton.
Duncan Ferguson knows how to celebrate his team scoring
The own goal was not David de Gea's finest moment - Lindelof was rather upset with his keeper
12 - David de Gea has conceded a goal in each of his last 12 Premier League appearances for Manchester United - his longest run without a clean sheet in his career in the competition. Leaking. #MUNEVEpic.twitter.com/rFZIL2cooF— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 15, 2019
Both teams dominated passages of the opening 45 minutes
Manchester United were very much on top at the start of the match. They looked very dangerous with the pace of their forwards being utilised with balls in behind.
Then Everton took control and, although the goal was fortunate, it was coming after sustained pressure paid off.
HALF TIME! Manchester United 0 Everton 1
Rashford works his way into the box, the ball is cleared away to Shaw who can only pick out Pickford with a tame shot.
That's the half.
45+2 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 1
Two minutes of added time... Everton work their way into United's half but lose the ball. The counter attack is broken up by Mina.
45 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 1
The home side finally put an attack together - James puts in a cross and Baines get there first.
Fred links up nicely with McTominay who wins a corner after a deflected shot.
The corner runs to James who tries to put a ball back into the box but he puts it out for a goal kick.
42 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 1
The away support are making their voices well and truly heard. Calvert-Lewin finds Iwobi on the right wing but United win back the ball.
Everton are battling hard for every long ball.
Lindelof runs forward but Bernard makes an important challenge.
39 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 1
Ferguson went berserk after the goal. Iconic.
Everton are on top and create another chance. Manchester United are rattled.
GOOOOOOAAAAAAAL! Lindelof (OG) Manchester United 0 Everton 1
OWN GOAL! Baines whips the corner in, De Gea comes for it and misses it. Lindelof is standing on the line, it hits him and rolls in. He just did not see the ball coming. Unfortunate.
VAR says it is okay as it checks whether De Gea was blocked.
37 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 0
Iwobi forces his way into the box and Lindelof fails to clear after winning the ball. He makes an important intervention from the follow-up - corner.
35 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 0
Richarlison tricks Lindelof into fouling him. The free kick is in a perfect area for a cross. Baines over cooks it, and Holgate volleys the follow-up well, well wide.
Everton have been well on top for the last five minutes or so.
33 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 0
Bernard to take - the ball comes back out to Bernard before eventually running out for a goal kick after Fred pressed Iwobi into an error.
31 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 0
It is cold and rainy - so Duncan Ferguson takes his jacket off, of course. His hard man persona continues...
Calvert-Lewin hammers a long range effort straight at De Gea. Everton attack again and Richarlison wins a corner for his side.
29 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 0
Richarlison makes a run down the right wing but the assistant referee's flag goes up. Offside.
Everton get their foot on the ball finally, spreading the play around the pitch nicely - they move all the way up the field but Coleman strays offside on the overlap. Better from Ferguson's side.
26 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 0
Rashford dribbles into the box but Mina gets the ball away. McTominay claims the ball, turns past Davies who fouls him again on the edge of the box. Davies does not pick up a second yellow but the free kick is definitely scoreable.
Rashford whips it with real venom but it is too straight and Pickford keeps it out. Fred blasts the long distance rebound way over the bar.
24 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 0
Shaw bursts down the left and his cross into the box just holds in the air before being cleared by Everton.
Digne has been struggling and is going to come off. Baines will replace him. The left back was struggling with an injury he picked up against Chelsea and it looks like he did not recover fully.
22 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 0
United work their way up the pitch slowly and win a corner after Iwobi puts the ball behind.
The corner is easily deal with and the home side retreat towards De Gea.
A heated discussion about whether the defence or keeper should be getting to the long balls in behind...
20 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 0
Rashford works a shooting opportunity from the edge of the box but his effort is blocked.
Richarlison is limping around after being caught in a challenge for the ball - he looks fine to continue.
17 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 0
The home side have been on top so far, they look dangerous and armed with a game plan. Everton need to establish some possession ASAP.
Keane tackles Martial who goes down on the edge of the box - no foul and Everton clear their lines.
14 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 0
Manchester United are just pinging balls from deep over the top and backing their pace to beat Everton to the ball - it has worked a couple of times already. Everton need Pickford to be ready to come out or they need to drop a little deeper as a defensive line.
Rashford and Martial play a one-two in the box but Coleman shepherds the ball so that Pickford can slide and claim it.
11 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 0
Rashford has a chance on his left foot but he blasts it over the bar. The ball was played over the top and the England striker was just too fast.
The same things happens a minute later. James goes in behind but his shot is sent wide. Everton are far too high up the pitch at the moment.
9 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 0
Shaw and Fred link up nicely as United pass the ball around the back after a frantic start to the game.
Everton pinch the ball and counter through Digne who plays through to Bernard who loses the ball.
Despite Ferguson saying Everton were playing three at the back, Holgate has played in central midfield from the start. 4-4-2 and mind games from the away side...
7 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 0
Richarlison picks up the ball on the right wing and lays it back to Holgate who curls the ball towards goal. De Gea claims with ease but it wasn't a bad first time effort from the defender.
5 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 0
Davies chops down McTominay as he bursts forward, yellow card! Not a great tackle that.
Fred crosses in the free kick but fails to get it over the first man.
3 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 0
Everton are then close at the other end. De Gea rises high to tip the ball over the bar for an Everton corner.
And another corner to the away side. Digne stands over it - the ball finds Calvert-Lewin who attempts a volley. The ball then runs to Bernard who sends it into the stands.
Very lively start at Old Trafford.
1 min: Manchester United 0 Everton 0
The home side could have scored 16 seconds into this match! United go direct down the left, Martial finds Lingard in the box who pulls his shot wide. He really should have done better.
Manchester United get us underway! Here we go...
The players are emerging from the tunnel
Seamus Coleman and Harry Maguire lead out their respective sides.
Manchester United are clear favourites but...
Everton had a brilliant energy about them last weekend and have enough attacking talent on the pitch to cause problems. Between Bernard, Iwobi, Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin - with Coleman and Digne bombing on as wing-backs - I expect Everton to get on the scoresheet.
Will that be enough to win against a Manchester United with a new steel about them? Maybe not.
It is going to be fascinating to see how Everton's attacking 5-3-2 (if you can call it that) formation comes off today.
It looks like Duncan Ferguson is not being considered as a permanent option for Everton
Everton are set to appoint a manager from outside the current club set-up. However, could Ferguson throw a spanner in the works if Everton can back-up a win over Chelsea with victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford?
It seems unlikely, but a certain Ole Gunnar Solskjær was awarded a permanent position after a very successful interim spell...
Two in-form strikers will go head to head today
Man Utd’s Marcus Rashford has already equalled his best ever Premier League goal tally in a single season (10) in 16 games this season (10 in 33 apps in 2018-19). The Englishman has scored seven goals in eight league appearances at Old Trafford this season – no other Man Utd player has scored more than two at home.
Everton’s Richarlison has scored four goals in his last five Premier League games (including netting in three games in a row for the first time in the competition), more than he’d netted in his previous 17 league matches (3).
It is fair to say that Manchester United have enjoyed playing against Everton in the Premier League...
36 - Manchester United have won 36 of their 54 Premier League games against Everton (D9 L9), more than any side has won against another in the history of the competition. Repetitive. #MUNEVEpic.twitter.com/mGxmox9YNE— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 15, 2019
Manchester United have found form in recent matches
Manchester United are unbeaten in five Premier League matches and are looking to win three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since winning their first six under Ole Gunnar Solskjær back in January.
Can Duncan Ferguson pull off another surprise victory today?
Manchester United have now officially named an Academy graduate in their match day squad for the 4,000th consecutive match, dating back to 30th October 1937
Read about Walter Crickmer: The genius who began Manchester United's remarkable 4000-game streak of academy excellence here.
Duncan Ferguson had a mixed record against Manchester United as a player
As a player, Everton caretaker manager Duncan Ferguson scored more Premier League goals against Man Utd than he did against any other side (7 goals in 16 games). However, the Scotsman also lost more games against the Red Devils than any other team (10).
Manchester United name an unchanged side from their last Premier League match while Everton make four changes to the team that beat Chelsea. Djibril Sidibe and Gylfi Sigurdsson are ruled out with illness, while Morgan Schneiderlin and Theo Walcott both picked up calf injuries.
They are replaced by Seamus Coleman, Yerry Mina, Tom Davies and Bernard
Lucas Digne has been passed fit for today’s game despite being withdrawn with a suspected groin issue in the win over Chelsea last weekend.
Everton interim boss Duncan Ferguson said supporters can expect even wilder celebrations from him if they can pull off a rare Premier League victory at Manchester United on Sunday.
Goodison Park witnessed frenzied celebrations from the former Everton striker last weekend after he guided them to a 3-1 win over Chelsea that lifted them out of the relegation zone and up to 14th.
Everton have won only twice at Old Trafford in the Premier League -- Aug. 1992 and Dec. 2013 -- and Ferguson said ending their poor run would be special.
"Yeah I'm not gonna change, I'm just going to be myself... I'd be on the roof if we could get a win there," Ferguson told a news conference on Friday. "I have a good record against United there, happy days.
"That's what happens when you win, everyone seems happy. The boys have trained well and we're motivated to go again... we've only won one game in the last 20 odd years there."
United are undergoing their own revival under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, having beaten Tottenham Hotspur and champions Manchester City last week to climb to fifth.
"Unfortunately they're on the up at the minute... United are a good team, in great form," Ferguson said.
"It's going to be a big ask but I'm sure we'll give a good account of ourselves."
Reports have linked former boss David Moyes with a return to the club, while sacked Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti and former Arsenal boss Unai Emery are also on their radar.
"I don't know the negotiations behind the scenes. I've been asked to take this game and I've jumped at that, and I'll keep doing it until I'm told differently," Ferguson said.
"All these guys are fantastic managers. Hopefully the club will find the right one. We want the best managers in the world managing our club."
Forward Theo Walcott and midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin are facing weeks out of action due to calf problems after both players impressed in the win over Chelsea.
For the home side, Jesse Lingard will be assessed ahead of the match. The attacking midfielder missed the Europa League win against AZ Alkmaar with a knock in the win against Manchester City and did not train on Thursday.
Paul Pogba is out but set to start full training next week along with Eric Bailly and Timothy Fosu-Mensah. Nemanja Matic returned from a 10-week absence against AZ, while Diogo Dalot and Marcos Rojo building fitness.