THE glint of a scythe flickered behind David Moyes in his return to Everton yesterday.
It was only a supporter dressed up as the Grim Reaper to celebrate the demise of Manchester United as a Champions League team, but a few performances like this one next season could spell the end for the Scot as manager at Old Trafford.
Post-match, he accused his side of "rank rotten" defending after Everton had strolled to an easy 2-0 victory. Moyes was barracked by the crowd throughout, and it was grimmer on the pitch as his team suffered their 11th defeat of a pitiful season.
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Phil Jones blocked Romelu Lukaku's shot with his outstretched arm and Leighton Baines converted the resulting penalty before Alex Buttner played Kevin Mirallas onside and the Belgian beat David de Gea from a tight angle.
Moyes tried to put a positive spin on what was a dreadful defeat, but he did not hold back when giving his assessment of his team's defending for both goals. "I thought the two goals we conceded today were rank rotten," the United manager said.
"The [first] goal was a big kick up the pitch, it was nodded down and picked up, and for us to concede a goal like that was terrible. The second was a better move but we should have defended it much better that we did.
"We gave away two terrible goals but prior to that we passed the ball brilliantly, kept the ball, had great control of the game. What we couldn't do is make enough chances, but we had great control and we got done by two stupid decisions."
The result and the performances of both sides showed just how much United have regressed under Moyes and how far Everton have come under his successor Roberto Martinez, who has now collected a record 20 league wins since moving to Goodison Park. United tested Tim Howard on just two occasions while Everton outmuscled and outclassed their opponents in midfield. Wayne Rooney had a disappointing afternoon in front of goal while Lukaku caused Jonny Evans and Jones problems throughout. Moyes, surprisingly, thought his team did not play too badly.
"We played well in the first half," he said. "I didn't think we deserved to go in 2-0 down at half-time."
Martinez, who became the first Everton manager to do the double over United in 44 years, hailed the performance as "electrifying".
"This was an important win for our fans," said the Spaniard. "That tells you this group of players is ready to develop. That performance was full of energy, it was dynamic on the counterattack. I thought we looked electrifying."