Everton suffered a second straight defeat as Manchester United ran out 2-0 winners.
Anthony Martial livened up a largely lifeless game when he curled home in the second half to put the visitors ahead in the New Year’s Day clash at Goodison Park.
A short Everton revival ensued but they were unable to muster a shot on target for a second successive home game since Sam Allardyce’s appointment.
Jesse Lingard ensured the game was put beyond the Blues’ reach when he cut in from the left and fired superbly from distance in the 81st minute.
Here were the key talking points from Goodison:
Mixed signals from Allardyce
A draw with West Brom and defeat to Bournemouth in the last two games has seen Sam Allardyce taking flack from the Goodison Park crowd.
The former England manager looked to fix that by starting both Yannick Bolasie and Nikola Vlasic and, at times in the first half, it had a positive effect.
In the second half, though, Everton reverted to type; sitting back and allowing the visitors to dominate possession and ultimately take advantage of it.
It cost them dearly as Paul Pogba dominated the midfield and Everton’s lack of pressing gave Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard the space to both score.
Like their manager, Everton appear to be caught in two minds and it is showing with mixed displays – something which Allardyce should make incredibly wary.
It was this lack of cohesion balance that ended up costing Ronald Koeman his job.
Rooney fails to prove a point
Wayne Rooney would have been desperate to make a point against his former club.
Since his departure, he’s scored the same number of league goals as his replacement Romelu Lukaku and proved more than one critic wrong.
A strong performance here would have helped ram home the idea that the Rooney revival is well and truly on and that Jose Mourinho made a huge mistake.
Unfortunately, someone didn’t follow the script.
Rooney was far from his best, with his wayward pass setting up the counter-attack for United’s opener by his former teammate Anthony Martial.
His current teammates at Everton may look back at this as a badly missed opportunity to make a point to their own numerous detractors.
Blues lacking ambition
Allardyce can complain about his lack of forward options until he is blue in the face but the lack of ambition being shown by Everton is currently unacceptable.
Most Evertonians will accept their side being defensive against the big sides, especially given some of the harrowing defeats earlier this season.
What they will not accept, however, is their side that lacks a broad horizon.
For the second home game running, Everton failed to register a single shot on target and only managed a pitiful just four from their previous four games.
Even from a team as lacking up front as they are, that is a damning statistic
Returning duo provide the positives
Only two positives emerged from Everton’s ninth league defeat of the season.
The immediate returns of Yannick Bolasie and James McCarthy against the Red Devils proved a timely boost at this time of the current campaign.
Both proved why they will be in Allardyce’s thoughts moving forward.
Bolasie was easily the best Everton player on the pitch for the time he was on it, terrorising Victor Lindelof on multiple occasions down the left.
McCarthy, meanwhile, was excellent as a second-half substitute, snapping into tackles and injecting energy into an otherwise lacklustre Blues midfield.
The sooner both can get back to full fitness, the better