Ralf Rangnick has admitted that Manchester United do not deserve to finish in the Champions League places if their level of performance for the rest of the season is similar to what they showed at Everton.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford were among six changes to United’s line-up at Goodison Park with the latter threatening twice early on, denied both times by his England team-mate Jordan Pickford.
But the momentum shifted dramatically in Everton’s favor when Anthony Gordon opened the scoring with a deflected shot in the 27th minute, which proved decisive as the struggling Toffees secured a 1–0 win.
United’s ambition to finish in the top four of the Premier League is fading and Rangnick lamented a toothless attacking display against an Everton side who lost 3-2 to relegation rivals Burnley in midweek. .
“Every time we scored the first goal, we had enough confidence and we won most of those games,” Rangnick said. “But when you concede the first goal, we lost a little bit of composure and maybe confidence.
“With all due respect to Everton because they have a good team, but if you don’t score against a team that conceded three goals to Burnley in the end you can’t expect to get anything.
“The players themselves should really want to play international football, if possible Champions League.
“But if we play like we did here, we just don’t deserve it. To qualify for Europe you have to be able to score in 95 minutes in a match like this”.
Rashford, who has now scored just five times in 28 appearances in all competitions this season, was spirited from the start, but Ronaldo remained largely subdued and, although he had a chance to equalize in added time, the midfielder’s half-volley Portuguese was stopped by the Grand Pickford.
Rangnick lamented the waste of the front line from the start, acknowledging that Gordon’s first goal changed the face of the game, with the mood among the home fans cheering for the Everton players.
“The first 25 minutes we were in complete control of the game,” Rangnick added. “Even in those 25 minutes we didn’t get enough of that dominant period in the game.
“You could literally feel them falling apart after that result against Burnley, naturally they weren’t full of confidence, but we didn’t take advantage of that and with his first shot on goal, he changed the game and changed the atmosphere in the stadium.
“In the second half they just defended with all of their outfield players on the field and we couldn’t bring that wall down in the second half.”
The defeat to the Clarets meant Everton moved just a point above the relegation zone, but they have now given themselves a buffer and relieved the pressure on manager Frank Lampard.
It was just a third win in 10 league games for Lampard, but the former Chelsea manager insisted he is not paying too much attention to the table as Burnley take on Norwich on Sunday.
“Some people around me are calculating how many points we will get,” Lampard said. “It doesn’t mean anything to me. I have it pending, but all I’m thinking about is the next game and what that means.
“It could change the face right now, but it could look different at the end of the weekend.
“We absolutely know that it is in our hands to continue to perform, giving everything for each game to stay in the league, regardless of others.”
Everton now have an 11-day break before hosting Leicester on Merseyside and Lampard recognizes the importance of a win here and, in particular, what it means for his life at home.
The 43-year-old former midfielder, who is married to TV presenter Christine Lampard, said: “That made it important for my wife, she will be delighted, she has a good couple of days ahead of her!”