LVG unhappy with United players
Louis van Gaal accused his Manchester United players of a lack of motivation as they slumped to their heaviest league defeat of his reign at Everton.
James McCarthy, John Stones and Kevin Mirallas found the net as United stumbled to successive defeats for the first time under the Dutchman.
United had 65 per cent possession and 17 attempts, but they were unable to break down a compact Everton team, who exposed the visitors' weak defence on the counter.
Van Gaal has rarely criticised his players in the second half of the season, but it was a different story on Sunday.
The United boss said he could tell his team was not up for the fight from their relaxed attitude in the warm-up.
The 3-0 defeat - Everton's biggest over United in 23 years - therefore came as no surprise to the man in the away dugout.
"This is the first match that the other team have shown more fighting spirit than us," Van Gaal said.
"Our motivation, inspiration and aggression was not as high as the opponent.
"I had already the feeling and my colleagues (assistants) Ryan Giggs and Albert Stuivenberg had the feeling because the warm up was not so good as usual.
"In the last minutes before the game you hope you can recover and stimulate your players but then it is too late.
"You have to prepare the match already two or three days before and Everton has done that and they have won because of that.
"When you see the goal after four minutes, three duels in a row we lost and that is an example.
"I hope it shall not happen again but as a coach I know it shall happen again."
Van Gaal's opposite number Roberto Martinez was much happier after the final whistle.
His team deserve praise for the way they contained United and then punished them so destructively on the counter.
Martinez reserved special praise for Stones after he scored his first goal for the club.
"John deserves his moment because scoring his first goal is a memory he is going to treasure," the Everton manager said.
"The boys were giving him a hard time because he only scores in training. His defensive display was his best since he was playing in the first team."
An improved showing at the back had enabled United to go to Chelsea last week on the back of six straight wins, but the defence looked like the shaky back line that cost United so badly at the start of the campaign.
McCarthy skipped through weak challenges by Paddy McNair and Daley Blind before slipping the ball between David de Gea's legs to put Everton ahead in the fifth minute.
Stones easily shrugged off his marker Antonio Valencia before rising to nod in Leighton Baines' corner for the second.
And Mirallas killed the game off with 16 minutes to go as the United defence stood like statues waiting for an offside flag that never came.
A fortnight ago United seemed all but certain to qualify for the Champions League, but Liverpool are now seven points behind them and they have a match in hand.
"You give the light to your opponents," Van Gaal said when asked what effect the loss would have on United's Champions League hopes.
Should Wayne Rooney be ruled out for a while with the knee injury he sustained towards the end, United's hopes of finishing in the top four would be further damaged.
"He took a kick to his knee and we have to see if it is heavy or not," Van Gaal said of his captain, who came off in the 88th minute with the problem.
Van Gaal also had to remove another former Everton player at half-time in Marouane Fellaini.
The United boss feared the Belgian, making his first return to Goodison, would be sent off unless he replaced him.
"He was booked and I found that the players of Everton provoke him and I was not so sure if he should end the match," said Van Gaal of the midfielder, who was cautioned for fouling Ross Barkley in the 12th minute.
Irish Independent Sport Star Awards
Pick our magic sports moment of the year and win a trip for two to London. To view the shortlist and cast your vote click here.