It was a difficult moment to watch.
The Sky Sports cameras captured Moise Kean’s reaction as his number was held aloft by the fourth official to signify he was to leave the field just 18 minutes after he entered the game.
Initial confusion, followed by dejection and pain.
Not the pain of an injury – it was clear the 19-year-old was not physically hampered – but the hurt that comes with a hammer blow to a young player’s confidence.
Everyone else associated with Everton will have left Old Trafford in high spirits.
Duncan Ferguson’s men earned a point against a Man United side who had recently impressed with wins against Sours, Man City and AZ Alkmaar.
The travelling support chanted the name of their passionate caretaker after the final whistle but Ferguson may face criticism for his handling of Kean.
The ex-Juventus teenager walked straight down the tunnel after being replaced by Oumar Niasse in the 89th minute; possibly for an early bath, though he may not have been on the pitch long enough to work up a sweat.
Speaking to Geoff Shreeves after the game, Ferguson refused to criticise Kean.
“I just needed to make a substitution to kill a bit of time,” he said. “Nothing against Moise Kean’s performance.”
Diplomatic words but most would question his choice of player if the substitution was purely for time-wasting purposes.
Why not take off a starter if that was the case?
Fans have previously expressed concern over the Italian’s confidence and the incident at Old Trafford is unlikely to improve his morale.
It can be an humiliating experience for players to be substituted after coming on.
Kean struggled to make a positive impact during his 18 minutes on the pitch: nine touches, 25% pass completion, zero duels won out of five, three fouls conceded.
In terms of game management, there was justification for Ferguson’s decision.
And as caretaker manager, it’s understandable the Scotsman would focus on the immediate situation.
However, such events do not exist in a vacuum.
Kean signed from Juventus for £25million on a five-year deal and arrived having excited fans and pundits in Italy by exhibiting his simmering potential in a Juventus shirt.
He has found the transition to the Premier League tough and is yet to score in his 350 minutes of top-flight English football.
At 19 years old he is at a crucial stage of his development and his premature exit against Man United may well be detrimental in the long term.
The Toffees will still be hopeful of nurturing Kean’s talent — they have invested in him and signed him to a contract that doesn’t expire until 2024.
It is certainly too early to discard the former Juve forward as a ‘flop’ and we do not yet know how Kean feels about being substituted.
However, you would empathise with the teenager if he felt some regret over leaving Italy in the next week.
Would a January loan to a Serie A club be good for Kean’s morale and development?