Manchester United gave their "worst performance this season" in a 3-0 loss to Everton this weekend.
Manchester United appeared to be on the brink of a renaissance following a winning streak of 6 Premier League games, beginning with a 2-1 victory away at Swansea and culminating in a stunning 4-2 victory over derby rivals Manchester City. Following this run of results, United were a shoo-in for a Champions League spot since taking second place on April 12, though following a string of two defeats (to Arsenal and Everton respectively), The Reds now lie in fourth place and are at risk of losing out on a Champions League position.
Manchester United's 3-0 defeat to Everton in the Barclays Premier League on April 25 was hailed as their worst performance of the season by manager Louis Van Gaal and expert-pundit Gary Neville.
Five minutes into the match, Everton's Gareth Barry cleared a United corner to launch a counterattack, which was completed by some nifty footwork from James McCarthy to make it 1-0. Fortunes weren't in United's favor as Marouane Fellani soon scuffed a (seemingly simple) chance to equalize over the net from 15-yards out.
Though they dominated the first 30-minutes, United were soon 2-0 down after John Stones powerfully guided Leighton Baines' corner into the back of the net on 35-minutes.
United manager Van Gaal decided to bring on some firepower in the form of Angel Di Maria, Robin Van Persie, and Radmael Falcao for the second half, but these substitutions were in vain as Everton's Kevin Mirallas finished the game off with 14-minutes remaining with a simple side-footed finish. The full-time whistle indicated United's second successive goalless match.
To make matters worse, club captain and talisman Wayne Rooney appeared to pick up a knee injury in the Everton clash, which could see United without their top-scorer for a number of games in the final stages of the season.
Gary Neville, an ex-Manchester United player turned pundit, lambasted United's performance on his Sky Sports podcast, describing them as "toothless" and "lacking urgency." United manager Louis Van Gaal followed these claims by blaming a "lack of motivation" as a reason for their defeat. This type of form cannot carry on if United want to claim a spot in Europe's elite competition.
Manchester United is placed fourth with 65 points, and their closest rival for a Champions League spot is Liverpool F.C., who are seven points adrift on 58. This is a large enough difference in points for United to see out the season and cling onto a Champions League place, but this deficit could easily be overcome with three poor results in the last 7 games.
Manchester United desperately need to win a place in next season's Champions League, following rumours of David De Gea's possible departure to Real Madrid, which could see the Red Devils losing their 2015 PFA Player of the Season nominee if their European targets are not met. There have also been many rumors of United attracting Real Madrid superstar-turned-outcast Gareth Bale, though missing out on European football will surely put a dent in their bid for the Welshman.
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