Six players from 2019 Everton 4-0 loss also featured in Saturday's abject defeat

Manchester United’s 1-0 loss to Everton on Saturday neatly summed up their latest three-year cycle of failure.

It looks the new manager in charge will be Erik ten Hag and if he is, within three years time, everyone connected with United would hope he would have the club in title contention.

He certainly should have the club looking how he wants it to look; with the right characters in the dressing room and a squad set up for how he wants to play.

In April 2019, just after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had been named permanent manager of United, we lost 4-0 at Goodison Park. It was an abject performance.

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‘We let the fans down’

Afterwards, Solskjaer said, as per the Guardian: “That performance is not good enough for a Manchester United team, from me to the players. We let the fans down. We let the club down. That performance is difficult to describe because it was so bad.

“They beat us on all the basics: long throw – put your head in, our corner, they counterattack and score, their corner, they score. We were beaten on all the ingredients you need, added to the talent. There is no place you can hide on the pitch. It was 85 minutes before we got a strike on target which is not good enough.”

“You can’t change your whole squad. One step at a time. I am going to be successful here and there are players who won’t be part of that.”

Still here

You cannot change your whole squad in one transfer window, but three years on, five of the same players started this weekend’s loss at Goodison Park.

David de Gea, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Fred and Marcus Rashford started both games, with Paul Pogba starting the 2019 clash and replacing Fred off the bench in the first half on Saturday.

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Diogo Dalot is still here, after starting the 2019 loss, and Anthony Martial played that day too and is only out on loan now.

Phil Jones is still around too, having started that game, with Scott McTominay a half-time sub in 2019 and only missing on Saturday through injury. Juan Mata was a substitute both times, coming on for a first Premier League appearance of the season on Saturday.

In the 4-0, you looked at United and saw a team devoid of character and from Solskjaer’s post-match comments, it was clear that there were some personalities in the group that he wanted to get rid of.

After three years, largely overseen by Solskjaer, you thought exactly the same on Saturday. The fact so many of the same players are there, with the same issues, underlines the stagnation.

Ultimately, it means that United’s latest attempt to rebuild has failed. There are some who will pin the blame for that on the Glazers; others more roundly on Solskjaer.

It just increases the pressure on the next man to be right, and it looks like being ten Hag. Hopefully, by the time United travel to Everton during the 2024/25 season, we are not having the same conversations about the same old issues again.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.