I wasn’t planning to write a post tonight but after watching Man Utd’s sloppy, uninspired opening performance against a much better prepared Everton side, I just felt compelled to do so. A stunning header in the 67th minute from Marouane Fellaini dampened United’s energy and left them already three points adrift of Man City and Chelsea in the Premier League title race.
Coming into this game, most United fans knew that this was never going to be an easy time against an Everton team that always play this fixture tough and Everton manager David Moyes, more often than not, has his players up for this one. United started with four central defenders on the injury list and only Nemanja Vidic and Michael Carrick were available to play in the middle of the back four. For the most part, for the first half they looked fairly comfortable, but as time wore on, Fellaini was starting to have his way with Carrick. I’m surprised that Vidic didn’t take over marking the Belgian at some point and that pretty well led to Everton’s winner from the corner in the 67th minute. Fellaini was stronger than Carrick and slotted the header home.
From that point, United had most of the play but could not penetrate Everton’s fortified defenses and struggled to create any clear cut chances. For United, new arrival Shinji Kagawa was a constant threat and surely cemented his starting role, but here were far too many weak efforts out there from players that should be fired up to play. Wayne Rooney probably turned in his worst performance for a year or so and is a shadow of the player he was a year ago. He looks unfit, and disinterested in his performance. A typical example of what many people are referring to in footballers is that they talk the talk, but can’t walk the walk.Rooney is the poster child for that right now and in my view, should get some bench time until his sharpness returns. Patrice Evra was another huge disappointment as he continues to struggle defensively. I personally think he’s past it as a top class left back as he cannot track back quick enough following his attacks moving forward. Twice tonight, both Welbeck and Rooney were left to track back and cover for him. He wanders around in defense terribly and must be a headache for his fellow defenders. Robin Van Persie made his first appearance in a United shirt but was not a factor. Nani had a bad game and Young, when replacing the Portuguese winger, wasn’t much better.
It is definitely a step back for Ferguson to lose without scoring a goal, and that continues to be an area of deep concern especially with all the riches he has available at the striker’s position now. What is more worrying to me is that Scholes’s continued run in the center of United’s midfield I think, lures his fellow midfielders into thinking that he’s going to make the difference out there. He was brought back as a squad player and not a starter and Cleverley, in particular, tends to hold back into a supporting role while the great man is out there, and Kagawa will go the same way if left unchecked. Ferguson badly needs his defenders back as the Carrick/Valencia pairing is not working out – they are not defenders and shouldn’t be expected to.
It’s bad start to the season and nothing more than that. Ferguson will know more than anyone that the run for the Premier League trophy is a marathon and not a sprint but the manner of this defeat is disconcerting. They were out hustled, and out run by a much better prepared team. It’s maybe time to rethink the Summer Tour schedule too for United as they have logged a ton of miles playing friendlies and exhibition matches all over the world this past two months. Tonight they looked very jaded and out of ideas.
First game in the hopper and we’re off and running but there’s a ton of improvement needed here if Ferguson is going to get his title back.