Just when it looks like Manchester United have turned a corner, it soon transpires they are in fact still going around in circles.
A resounding midweek win against Southampton should have been the perfect springboard for another encouraging result against Everton on Saturday night, for 45 minutes it looked like it was.
United’s first-half performance at Old Trafford was just about as good as it has got under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, as his side picked apart the Toffees with clever attacking play and an irresistible arrogance backed up by their confident front line.
However, in the space of seven second-half minutes their 2-0 lead was cancelled out. Their fine first-half performance now counting for nothing as efforts from Abdoulaye Doucoure and James Rodriguez drew Everton level.
A true Jekyll and Hyde performance which showcased everything great about United under Solskjaer as well as everything there is to hate.
The fact United would regain their lead again through Scott McTominay is further evidence of the grit and winning belief which has been instilled by the Norwegian, but again they’d be underpinned by unacceptable defending which highlighted the huge gulf in quality which still remains between them and Manchester City.
The hardest thing to stomach is that it was not just one momentary lapse of concentration, but costly errors from David de Gea, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Axel Tuanzebe as Everton snatched a dramatic equaliser which was so avoidable. A one-off error would be easier to digest, but the manner of the goal suggested wider systemic problems which needs to be solved.
United’s continued pursuit of a new central defensive signing was amplified, with the performance making it clear where the priority must lie at the end of the season.
The draw also highlighted the need for immediate change, with Eric Bailly sure to return to the starting XI as soon as he is back fit, while the case for Dean Henderson to get a run in goal has also been boosted.
With those two solutions already at the club supporters have every right to anticipate changes in the coming weeks, with Solskjaer well aware that something needs to happen if his side are to make the most of the solid foundations they have already laid this season.
Bringing in the more vocal Henderson could have an immediate impact on the back line, with his organisational skills one area of advantage he has over the often reclusive De Gea.
The return of Maguire and Bailly’s partnership could also be a short-term fix, although reservations still remain over the Ivorian’s long-term suitability to the role given his erratic nature and unfortunate injury record.
Whatever the immediate solution there is no debating the long-term one. Just as Ruben Dias and Virgil van Dijk have transformed both of United’s biggest rivals, it is essential Solskjaer adds another defender to his squad this summer.
Now he just has to find one.