Carlo Ancelotti looked perplexed in the aftermath of a third straight league defeat, but that is to be expected given the last time he managed a team through such a torrid domestic run was AC Milan in 2006.
The Everton boss is an unfamiliar position with his side surrendering against Southampton, Newcastle and most recently to Manchester United at Goodison Park on Saturday.
The early season swagger, balance and surety that claimed five victories on the spin, catapulting them to the top of the table, has been replaced by structural issues in defence and a complete deficiency in chance creation.
Everton are too easily exposed at the back, while not giving Dominic Calvert-Lewin much at all to work with up front.
It was startling, having taken the lead against United, just how effortlessly and quickly they were pierced and then put out of the game.
It took just six minutes for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men to respond after Jordan Pickford’s long kick was flicked on by Calvert-Lewin, who ousted Victor Lindelof in the air, for Bernard to cut inside past Aaron Wan-Bissaka and beat David de Gea inside his right post.
United’s defending was passive for that opener, but Everton’s may as well have been switched off altogether.
Juan Mata released Luke Shaw on the left, whose superb cross dissected Michael Keane and Mason Holgate, with Bruno Fernandes running between them unchecked to head in the equaliser.
Seven minutes later, the Portuguese international had struck again with a frustrated Ancelotti dropping his head in the technical area.
Edinson Cavani opened his United account at the death and the Italian provided an honest assessment of why the visitors – enduring an unforgiving period of their own – were able to score three without much resistance.
“We were not compact,” Ancelotti said.
“We gave them the opportunity to play between our lines. We were not so focused in the box and we didn’t mark the box. They were collective mistakes.
“This is the clear problem and we have to solve this.
“We prepared the game and focused on the defensive aspect. We have to work more on this aspect because the last few games, in the last period, we have conceded too many goals.
“This cannot happen. If we want to win games then we have to keep clean sheets because it is not always possible to score three or four goals every game.”
Everton haven’t managed a shutout in any of their last eight league home games. They have conceded at least twice in each of their last five at Goodison.
Ancelotti framed their deep drop in form as a “really, really bad period,” highlighting key injuries and suspensions, notably Richarlison, whom Everton haven’t recorded a top-flight win without since his signing in 2018.
Ancelotti plans to use the international break to “stabilise the defence” and get the “team to play like they did at the start of the season”. Richarlison’s return should provide an uplift, but there is a lot more to be done in very little time.
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