This was not the result or performance fans wanted to see a week before Everton kick off the new Premier League season.
The Toffees were given the runaround from the off against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday and, struggling to deal with the Red Devils’ zippy build-up play, trailed 3-0 on the half-hour mark. Diogo Dalot’s looping header in injury time compounded the Blues to a 4-0 defeat.
This last pre-season outing at Old Trafford showed that Rafa Benitez and his team still have plenty of work to do if they are to really compete this season and hit the ground running against Southampton at Goodison Park on August 14.
READ MORE: This is not the Everton squad Rafa Benitez wants but he must a find way to win
Here are five takeaways from Everton’s final pre-season friendly…
Yes, the Toffees were well beaten here on Saturday but there were encouraging signs that Everton will look to attack in numbers this season.
Despite starting the game without a recognised striker – Dominic Calvert-Lewin missed out with a slight knock while Moise Kean was also unavailable – it looked like the Blues would set up with James Rodriguez playing as a false nine in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1.
However, it soon became apparent James would be joined by Demarai Gray in a front two while Alex Iwobi and Andros Townsend pushed right up high to support in a 4-2-2-2. At times, in the opening exchanges, the quartet were level with each other in a front four
When Everton went forward, they had plenty of players looking to attack and one passage of play in particular saw five men in the box and four others, including centre-back Ben Godfrey, ready and waiting on the edge of the area. A far cry from previous teams where the lone frontman has looked isolated and searching balls into the box have gone to waste.
While there was a lack of intensity at Old Trafford and the Toffees failed to find the net, when Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Olympic gold winner Richarlison come back into the fold, the Blues duo will hopefully have a group of team-mates racing in to cause problems for the opposition defence and help them out in front of goal.
Get all the latest Everton news, transfer gossip, stadium updates and match reaction with our daily newsletter.
We’ll have all the latest Everton updates as well as comment and analysis straight to your inbox every day with our FREE email newsletter.
Sign up here – it only takes a few seconds!
Euro stars need more time
Jordan Pickford and Lucas Digne are a little behind the rest of the team after their summer was taken up playing at the Euros and it showed at Old Trafford.
The pair were involved in a mix-up which led to United’s opener – Digne diving low to head back to his keeper who spilled the ball into the path of Mason Greenwood who happily fired home into an empty net – and looked a little nervy thereafter.
While Pickford fumbled another, this time failing to catch a Bruno Fernandes effort which ricocheted off his chest and into a packed box before being cleared, left-back Digne failed to deal with a cross and his poor touch dropped to the hosts again. He too, was let off the hook as United’s follow-up was blocked.
After a gruelling summer in which Pickford helped England reach the Euros final and Digne picked up a thigh problem whilst on France duty, they have only recently returned to Finch Farm and are still coming up to speed.
The same can be said for Yerry Mina who appeared for Colombia at the Copa America and came on here as a second half substitute. He too has had an extended break and likely would have done much better, climbing higher, to deny Diogo Dalot who grabbed United’s fourth had he had a longer run in the side.
Demarai Gray was relentless in his pursuit to get as close to the goal as possible by making a number of runs into the box. The summer signing is a winger by trade but looked to create danger in central areas on Saturday and was constantly looking to get the ball in the area.
Playing in a makeshift strike partnership with James Rodriguez, he angled his runs expertly and was an outlet for those behind him.
A goal didn’t come, nor did a real clear-cut chance, but the endeavour and nous of a frontman was certainly there and he was a threat.
One clever turn in the box was well blocked by the United defence while he showed great desire to connect with an Alex Iwobi ball across the six-yard box in the second half but, even at sliding in at full stretch, a goal was inches out of his reach.
His decision to run to the back post when the wideman had the ball was smart and he poses an awareness and presence around the six-yard which Bernard, who left this summer, did not. Gray, it seems, will be a more effective forward option and so, in one part of the squad at least, Everton have upgraded.
Must-read Everton FC news
Townsend putting in the hard yards
Andros Townsend was the most accurate crosser in the Premier League last year and has been brought in to create chances and goals.
However, on Saturday, he showed he will be useful in helping the team when the ball is going the other way too.
As the Blues look for a new right-back to bolster the squad, they head into the new season safe in the knowledge that whether Seamus Coleman or Jonjoe Kenny starts the season, Townsend will be a massive aid and trusted partner down that side of the pitch.
He is happy to put in the hard yards and was constantly there for his full-back, doubling up in an attempt to restrict United’s left-wing play while also being an option when the Blues regained possession.
The 30-year-old free transfer signing showed plenty of guile on the right-wing, at times cutting in but showing he is adept with both feet and has the Blues best chance, hammering the crossbar with a thunderous effort and he was unlucky not to see it bounce over the line.
Timing is everything
If you’re a talented Everton youngster looking to step-up and be included in and around the first-team squad, the next couple of months could present a decent opportunity.
While Calvert-Lewin has rested after representing England in the Euros and Moise Kean has looked for a move away from Goodison Park, Lewis Dobbin has scored ten goals, consisting of three hat-tricks, this pre-season for the young Blues.
And on Saturday, the 18-year-old was rewarded for his goalscoring exploits with a cameo at the Theatre of Dreams.
The youngster hung on the last defender and looked alert and ready to pounce if the ball came his way. Sadly, it did not, but his appearance here shows that Benitez is willing to give youngsters a chance.
When you also consider it is unlikely Cenk Tosun has a future at the club, this could be the season Dobbin or Ellis Simms, another hotshot, are given some minutes if Everton are in need of an injection of youthful exuberance.