Wayne Rooney turns in 5/10 performance against Man United
Reality is starting to bite for Everton manager Sam Allardyce after a 2-0 New Years Day loss to Manchester United capped a miserable festive period.
No wins and two points from a possible 12 in the last four matches inspires little confidence ahead of a trip to Anfield in the FA Cup on Friday.
For the third time this season and the second home match in succession, Everton did not muster a single shot on target. The home side competed well in a dour first half but forgot to turn up for the second. While United re-emerged with renewed purpose after the interval, the hosts sleepwalked to a second defeat in three days.
As Jordan Pickford continued his uncontested march toward the club's player of the season award, there was a welcome return to form for Tom Davies in midfield and another encouraging defensive display from Ashley Williams at centre-back. Positives outside of those were in short supply.
Along with the concession of two well-taken but self-inflicted goals, the lack of aggression and intent from the home side disappointed.
Everton began the match unbeaten in five home league games, winning four of them, up against a United side without an away clean sheet in six games and no win in four games in all competitions.
In front of an expectant home crowd, faced with visitors not in their best form and missing key players through injury, Everton delivered the grand total of nothing. Instead of a stern examination, one of the worst United defences in recent memory left with a clean sheet without breaking sweat.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- This safety-first approach falls apart the moment the opposition score first. Irrespective of the opposition, two consecutive home games without a shot on target is inexcusable.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jordan Pickford, 7 -- While helpless with two superb finishes from Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, the Everton goalkeeper again ensured the home side stayed in the contest for as long as possible. Superb save from Lingard prior to his goal even drew praise from Jose Mourinho.
DF Mason Holgate, 4 -- Impressive of late at centre-back, the young defender endured a wretched evening at right-back here. Poor in defence and cheaply conceding possession from a throw-in for the second goal, Holgate also wasted several promising attacking openings.
DF Michael Keane, 5 -- Indecisive and spent too much time on the back foot. This failure to be proactive proved fatal when Lingard sidestepped his weak challenge on the way to scoring United's critical second goal.
DF Ashley Williams, 7 -- Restored to the starting XI after the Bournemouth defeat and one of the few to take advantage of their opportunity. An easy target for criticism not so long ago, it is to his credit that the veteran defender has been the pick of the centre-backs in recent weeks.
DF Cuco Martina, 6 -- Lack of understanding with Yannick Bolasie showed as the pair spent much of the first half oblivious to the United players roaming forward down their flank. In fairness, by full-time, the stand-in left-back had fared better than most.
MF Morgan Schneiderlin, 6 -- Tried to get Everton going in the second half, displaying greater purpose in possession, but it should not take Everton falling behind for the midfielder to try to stamp his authority on proceedings.
MF Nikola Vlasic, 5 -- A lively and industrious presence in the first half, but the 20-year-old could not seize his chance and promptly faded without a trace in the second half.
MF Tom Davies, 7 -- Committed throughout and willing to take the game to the visitors, Davies stood as one of the better performers and added some much-needed energy in the middle of the pitch.
MF Wayne Rooney, 5 -- Too conscious of making an impression against his former club, Rooney cheaply conceded possession throughout while attempting a succession of impossible and unsuccessful passes. This carelessness led to Martial eventually opening the scoring.
MF Yannick Bolasie, 5 -- A frustrating figure on the left flank and only began to stir as half-time approached. Direct running caused problems on occasions but there was not enough of it.
FW Oumar Niasse, 5 -- Mistimed his jump when directing a header wide of the post, which was about the only worthwhile chance Everton created in the match. A bundle of energy but lacked quality.
MF James McCarthy, 7 -- Snapped into tackles and temporarily dragged Everton back into the contest.
MF Aaron Lennon, 5 -- Out of position on the left and struggled to make an impact.
FW Dominic Calvert-Lewin, NR -- Unable to affect the outcome during a brief cameo.
Luke is ESPN FC's Everton blogger. Follow Luke on Twitter @lukeofarrell.