Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lashed out at the Premier League’s scheduling after Manchester United fought back to beat Everton 3-1 on Saturday, saying his struggling team were “set up to fail”.
Man-of-the-match Bruno Fernandes scored twice after Bernard had given Everton the lead, before Edinson Cavani opened his account for United, easing the pressure on the beleaguered United boss.
United started the match at Goodison Park a lowly 15th in the Premier League table, smarting after defeat to Arsenal and an embarrassing loss to Istanbul Basaksehir.
A visibly angry Solskjaer praised his players after the match but fired a broadside at league bosses for scheduling United’s match early on Saturday after their midweek Champions League commitments.
“We were set up to fail,” the Norwegian told BT Sport.
“The kick-off time set us up to fail. We have been to Turkey, played loads of games this season already, we got back Thursday morning and we are playing Saturday lunchtime, it’s an absolute shambles.
“These boys deserve better. Luke Shaw has got injured because of it. It’s a hamstring which might be a long one and Marcus Rashford might be struggling.
“The authorities set us up to fail, who is responsible? We’ve had enough of that. Players this season, in these times, a pandemic, mentally and physically it’s draining. Let us play on a Sunday, there’s an international break after this, it’s a joke.”
– Away form –
The victory at the home of Carlo Ancelotti’s early-season pacesetters was United’s seventh straight Premier League away win.
Their form on the road contrasts sharply with their struggles at Old Trafford, where they have not won a single league game so far this season.
Bernard put Everton ahead in the 19th minute. The ball fell to the Brazilian after a long Jordan Pickford punt upfield.
He shuffled the ball onto his right foot, beating Aaron Wan-Bissaka, before driving a shot past David de Gea at his near post.
United’s heads could have dropped but they were level six minutes later when Fernandes, given far too much space in the box, headed a Shaw cross into the top corner past Pickford.
Lucas Digne had a chance to put Everton back in front as the game opened up but smashed his shot against the outside of De Gea’s near post from a tight angle.
United, now playing with far more zip and purpose, were ahead in the 32nd minute. Rashford collected the ball before feeding Fernandes on the left of the box.
The Portuguese, thriving in the absence of Paul Pogba, who was left on the bench, curled over a cross for Rashford, who failed to connect with his attempted header but the ball crept in off the far post.
Everton dominated possession in the early stages of the second half but United’s defence, marshalled by the impressive Harry Maguire, was largely untroubled.
United had a shout for a penalty on the hour mark after a clumsy Pickford challenge on Maguire but Everton escaped.
Solskjaer brought on Pogba and Cavani with eight minutes to go and the Uruguayan scored his first goal for United deep into stoppage time from Fernandes’s unselfish pass, lifting United to 13th in the table ahead of the international break.
Everton, who topped the Premier League table earlier this season, have now suffered three consecutive league defeats.
“I hope that after the international break we will back in a different shape,” said Ancelotti. “It is not only a problem of the defenders, it is all of the team.
“I know how to manage difficulties, every year you have them. We can start again after the break, we are really bad at the moment but we started well.”
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea have the chance to climb to third in the table if they beat Sheffield United at Stamford Bridge later Saturday.
Elsewhere, Crystal Palace host Leeds and West Ham welcome Fulham to the London Stadium.