In HBO’s 7 Days In Hell, Andy Samberg’s character muses that two seemingly polar opposite things can be similar, noting that “those are just two flip slides of the same quesadilla.” Although it’s a seemingly nonsensical musing reminiscent of a first year college student who has taken their first philosophy class, it’s still a fun quote to can think about. Anyways, Everton and Manchester United are flip sides of the same terrible quesadilla.
Over the past few seasons, both United and Everton have had roller coaster seasons, reaching soaring heights and terrifying lows. Now, almost through the 2021-22 season, both clubs have become shells of their old selves, as one faces another year of disappointment and the other relegation.
Despite heavy investment in the summer and a manager change earlier this season, United hasn’t found their footing in the Prem and looks likely to miss out on European competition for next season. As just about every season has been for the team since Ferguson retired, the issues seem to stem from the top down. The only way for the team to truly find a way out of this downward spiral is to confront the issues at the top.
It seems that ever since Carlo Ancelotti left Everton, the club has been directionless, throwing money at issues that aren’t simple to fix. Everton’s ownership has never shied to spend money in recent years, but their record on successful transfers are truly poor. At the same time, the team has never really had a consistent philosophy with coaches that would allow them to instill their tactics on the squad.
As both teams circle the drain in different ways, both teams come from different expectations and backgrounds to find themselves with the same issues condemning them to disappointment. Two staples of the Prem find themselves falling behind the rest of the league.
Manchester United is a club that is iconic, its badge and jersey are recognizable around the world and on the same level as Barcelona and Real Madrid. The current state of the club, as it continues to tumble down the standings this season, is quite the contrasting image of the legendary club.
This past Sunday, United and Manchester City faced off against each other for another Manchester derby, with City looking to push their lead at the top of the Prem further. City would easily beat United 4-1 without breaking much of a sweat. Kevin de Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez tore apart this United side, as the gap between the two clubs is like the Marianas Trench.
United’s players seemed to barely try, as City outclassed them at every turn with captain Harry Maguire looking more like a Championship center back than a player worthy of United. In addition, manager Ralf Rangnick’s tactics left much to be desired with the decision to play Pogba and Fernandes up top baffling. The regression of players like Rashford and Fernandes, amongst others, is concerning at every level with any good progression over the years being wiped away.
This embarrassing performance is more of a symptom of the real plague at the heart of United than anything else. From the failure of varying transfer policies to the lack of any long term plan with a manager, United is a fish that rots from the head down.
All these issues stem from an ownership and management group that barely prepared for the future of the club after Ferguson’s retirement. This lack of preparation still pulls the club down, as they want to splash money on players that the club doesn’t really need. Ronaldo, van de Beek and Alex Telles are all examples of players that the club brought in without an idea on how to use them.
Looking further at the way the group has treated managers highlights the lack of any real idea about what constitutes as successful in modern soccer. From keeping Ole for way too long to not giving Moyes enough time, the group. Comparing them to other successful teams, like Liverpool and City, United’s ownership has never chosen a cohesive strategy and identified a manager and timeline.
United’s terrible performance against City further shows how far the club has fallen from amongst the elite clubs of the world in the 2000s to a team that is lucky to get European competition. So many of the club’s issues come from failures at the top that it’s difficult to find a way out.
On the other side of the quesadilla, Everton’s situation is somehow worse, given how close they are to being relegated despite never having been relegated from the Prem. Should they be relegated, it would be a catastrophe on the same level of Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United their respective first times being relegated.
If United’s performance was terrible then Everton’s performance was more like that of the Ponitac Aztek, a truly horrific outing that barely resembles the sport. No real strategy and players limply going around the pitch, as Tottenham was able to get anything they wanted. It was shocking to see a performance like that in a top flight.
At every level, from Frank Lampard’s awful choices to the players giving up, failures littered the pitch with Everton limping towards relegation. Donny van de Beek looks totally without confidence and Jordan Pickford looks like he would be more at home in the Championship next season. Dele Alli’s brief cameo did little to sway viewers from thinking that his career at the top is over.
It does seem like Everton has been trending towards relegation all season, since Ancelotti left the club for Real Madrid. Rafa Benítez’s tenure showed a manager whose time has finally passed him with his tactics archaic in the modern game. His firing allowed for the baffling choice to hire Lampard, who was awful with Chelsea, and his tenure has been worse with any semblance of tactics out the window.
With relegation closer than many fans would have imagined at the beginning of the season, it’s safe to say that Everton’s situation may be worse than United’s. Years of mismanagement has finally pushed the club down a path that may tarnish it for a good deal of time.
As both Premier League iconoclasts continue to fall further and further behind the rest of the league, neither team seems to really know how to catch back up. With Everton being threatened with relegation due to years of mismanagement and United becoming the Arsenal of 6 years ago, an era is over. Two seemingly different sides, one an icon of the sport and the other a mainstay of the Prem, are in fact flip sides of the same terrible and underwhelming quesadilla.
Featured Image: Clive Mason/ Getty