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Towering Fellaini leaves Ferguson fuming

Phil McNulty | 06:44 UK time, Tuesday, 21 August 2012

At Goodison Park

The sound of Sir Alex Ferguson damning Everton with faint praise through grinding teeth will have been a sweet serenade to the ears of David Moyes. It was an unwitting tribute to a job perfectly done.

This thunderous night at Goodison Park was meant - in Ferguson's perfect world at least - to be about Manchester United's £24m statement of intent Robin van Persie, and the first step toward reclaiming the Premier League from Manchester City.

Instead, Van Persie was reduced to making a peripheral contribution in a 23-minute appearance as a substitute on a night when one man was, in every context you care to mention, head and shoulders above everyone else.

Those of us brave, or downright foolish, enough to tweet in the hours before the game that it was now time for Marouane Fellaini to show he can dominate the big games on a more regular basis were given the most emphatic answer.

The secret of good comedy is always in the timing so there was quite simply not enough humble pie to go around as the giant Belgian, almost inevitably after fate was so sorely tempted here, gave a performance of such physical and footballing stature that United's patchwork defence found him unplayable, a bully and a tormentor in the manner manager Moyes would have wanted.

Ferguson's irritation was clear in the succession of back-handed - and more to the point inaccurate - "compliments" he hurled in Everton's direction after United suffered their first defeat in their opening league fixture since they lost at Chelsea in 2004.

Marouane Fellaini rises highest to score the winner for Everton on Monday night

Fellaini's towering header matched the rest of his performance as Everton exploited Manchester United's vulnerability. Photo PA.

The Scot accused Everton of "just lumping the ball forward" to Fellaini when in reality they adopted a perfectly legitmate ploy of crossing from width to exploit the height advantage and technique that allowed him to make it a harrowing night for emergency central defender Michael Carrick.

Even more implausibly, Ferguson announced United were "the better football team", ignoring the fact that Fellaini hit the post, Leon Osman the bar and goalkeeper David de Gea was outstanding in denying Steven Pienaar twice, Osman and Leighton Baines.

It is a defeat that, in the first game of the season, is inconvenient for Ferguson as opposed to any sort of serious setback and there were mitigating factors. He was without Rio Ferdinand, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans so this was a central defence in reduced circumstances.

With those players available and Van Persie embedded in partnership with Wayne Rooney, this is a team that will be contesting the title right until the end of the season.

Ferguson fielded a side with only two recognised defenders in Patrice Evra and returning captain Nemanja Vidic. It was an open invitation for Everton to exploit - and exploit it they did.

Everton fielded a bigger and more powerful unit than United - but it was still a source of mystery why Carrick found himself so often attempting to stop Fellaini rather than Vidic.

Everton had other players that required attention but it was clear very swiftly that the main trouble would come from the leaning tower of Goodison Park.

For Fellaini, this was arguably the best night of his Everton career. Peerless in aerial combat, linking midfield and attack superbly from just behind Nikica Jelavic, and with an almost uncanny ability to control the ball on his chest before releasing team-mates.

It was the sort of performance he possesses the tools to produce. Those of us who ask questions of him simply believe he should do it on a more regular basis. If he can, Everton are in possession of one of the most influential figures in the Premier League - it really is up to him.

When he left the pitch in the closing moments to be replaced by John Heitinga, the famous old stadium rose in unison to pay tribute to his efforts, including another old United nemesis, Duncan Ferguson.

With Tim Cahill, a fading force last season after an outstanding Everton career, having left for America, Moyes has the opportunity to use Fellaini in the more advanced role that suits his attributes. On nights like Monday, he gives his manager and his team an extra attacking dimension.

For Moyes, this was the sort of opening to the season he craved as Everton have won a deserved reputation as slow starters, a team that only kicks into gear in January.

If Fellaini was the stand-out performer, Everton had other players who were not far behind. Phil Jagielka was back to his best, clearing crucially off the line from Tom Cleverley, while his defensive partner Sylvain Distin was equally distinguished.

Baines showed why he is such a coveted player and Pienaar demonstrated the subtlety of touch and creativity that made Moyes so determined to bring him back to Goodison Park from Tottenham.

With Steven Naismith coming on as substitute and Moyes ready to make further additions before the transfer window closes - the name of Liverpool's Charlie Adam was still being bandied around Goodison on Monday while Michael Owen's was most certainly not - he is shaping a team that will be competive in the upper reaches of the Premier League if it can fulfil its potential.

BBC pundit Pat Nevin, an observer of his former club from the commentary box on Monday, said: "I think this is the season when, if anyone's going to get close to the top four, it is Everton."

Early, early days indeed - but Everton finished last season as one of the most in-form teams in the Premier League and Moyes has kept the players who made that possible together. Jack Rodwell was not involved, a factor that may have made the decision to sell to Manchester City a comfortable one.

And if Fellaini can turn in performances on the scale of that which terrorised Manchester United on a regular basis, then Nevin's argument will carry even greater weight. That is all that those of us who question him, and risk those custard pies from irate Everton fans, ask.


Page 1 of 13

  • Comment number 1.

    What a great start to the season for United. Already playing catch up with city!

  • Comment number 2.

    This was a magnificent Everton performance. Perhaps, a 2-0 would be a fairer result. Fellaini, Jagielka, Distin were immense while the entire Everton team was clicking like a Swiss clock.

    As a United fan, I liked the United performance, bar attack. De Gea provided the safety at goal VDS used to provide. Kagawa looked as though he was playing at United all his life while Cleverley was a joy to watch.

    Rooney isn't ready yet, at least to my eyes. And I wouldn't demand RVP to score in his first 20 minutes at United, under these circumstances. Considering that only Vidic and Evra were at defense, this was a good United performance, toothless up front though I have to say.

    It hurts to lose but to lose in such a match with such a performance by the opponent makes this match one of the best 1-0 matches we'll have seen this season. Many congratulations to Everton, Moyes and their fans.

  • Comment number 3.

    After seeing how poor Carrick is at defending aerially in the England game, how can the Man U coaching staff allocate him to mark Fellaini from a corner. Surely Vidic should have pulled rank and picked up a player who had butchered United all night in the air. Cant see what all the fuss is about with Cleveley also, anonymous again for long periods. Kagawa showed lots of ability, Scholes looks what he is, a top player who is going past his best years. Welbeck also disappointing on the night. Van Persie looked sharp in the bit he had, but when the total deal is supposedly £64 million wages included for a 29 year old, it makes you wonder.

  • Comment number 4.

    I love it...The mockney's lost. Hopefully that's the title gone with it. Can we please have another fascinating premier league season with twists and turns of fate.

    I don't watch the games, I can't bring myself to watch people who are paid more than an average UK house every single week. And they still make mistakes. If they are worth so much they MUST be held accountable for their errors. By a reduction in their wages for every "unforced" error or "misplaced" pass.

    Anyway, I would have loved to have been on the M6, following all those loyal ManU fans back to London, after they lost to the "mighty" Everton. HA HA HA...

  • Comment number 5.

    Only Fergie could think his team 'were the better team' after that display & all the damning stats that you've stated...1 goal. two hitting the woodwork...etc The only plus to come out of Goodison for the team from Manchester was De Gea's performance without whom, they could of easily be sitting between QPR & Norwich in the table. Still, it's only one

  • Comment number 6.

    Sir Alex should have signed Fellaini not van Persie. He is exactly what he needed up front. He also needs a midfield playmaker.

  • Comment number 7.

    Can we please sign a box to box midfielder now?

  • Comment number 8.

    Unfortunately Manchester United couldn't navigate the first hazard put in their way. The lack of creativity in midfield was obvious, no oscars for performances there! If only they had spent a little money there instead of up front, they would've been singing a different song now.

    I guess they would like to play a bit more cleverly, with a bit more fluidity, but they received a schooling from the opposition.

  • Comment number 9.

    United have lost the ability to grind results. Maybe due to lack of game dictating midfielders. Yes Scholes is good but his rough play makes him vulnerable after getting a yellow card or cautions.He's thus afraid to make tackles. Teams like Everton, Wigan, Newcastle or even Tottenham cannot be encouraged to dictate midfield or come forward. They will definitely bury one of those chances, park the bus and hit you on the counter.

  • Comment number 10.

    Cleverly was anoymous!

    Futhermore, aside from kagawa United had seemingly no imagination at all.

    Top display by Everton. Pacey, powerful and no lack of quality from the big man. Also though Osman was superb.

  • Comment number 11.

    I don't think at all that this was supposed to be RVPs big Utd coming out parade, that will happen in another fixture.

    Everton are too good a team to try and dominate in that way.

    @ 6 - RVP will score more goals than Fellaini this season, a stone clad guarantee.

  • Comment number 12.

    Good game. Fellaini was the boss.
    As i said in phil's last post..

    Everton are better than Liverpool and again will finish above them this season!!

    Fergie should have started RVP.

    No point moaning about the tactic Everton played. They are a very effective side and if they can play with good consistancy all season and avoid their "poor start of season syndrome" why not they challenge for CL?

  • Comment number 13.

    Its one game, I'm sure United fans won't be that worried. If anything it lay to bed the fears of De Gea being a poor keeper, as usual Ferguson has picked a gem. I did wonder why Carrick a CM was told to deal with Fellaini instead of Vidic. Man Utd. fans have pinned a lot to Vidic coming back, and he looks like he might take a bit of time (and and actual defender next to him) to come good again.

    The points dropped during the first 10 games don't lose you titles, but its better to have a 10 point lead than be trying to catch up the whole time! City are winners now, and although we are one game into the season, these games are important. I think Everton might struggle with injuries this term though, they were very good yesterday but they could struggle without Fellaini, Baines and Jaielka. Top display to round off a near perfect weekend from a Chelsea fans' point of view!

    Oh and cue Arsenal fans saying how RVP and I'm sure Alex Song are both terrible and Utd. and Barca have wasted their money...

  • Comment number 14.

    I can wait all season but I doubt I'll see a better individual performance than Fellaini's last night. I can only remember him losing the ball twice and he was a constant release for Everton and threat to Man U. Brilliant.

    Have to agree that Man U will be stronger once they get Ferdinand/Smalling and Jones back but it was the attacking that let them down most last night. Everton looked comfortable on the whole dealing with crosses with Distin and Jagielka really good. Kawaga looked quite good but the team lacked something with the wingers and full backs relatively quiet and Rooney having a slightly off game.

  • Comment number 15.

    David it is funny that you say "I don't watch the games..." yet still have the audacity to comment on a blog that is describing a game.... by your own admission you have no idea what you are talking about!

    Good win for EFC - Phil I don't think you should take too much humble pie, you posed a good point, that Fellaini has the ability to be a world beater and needed to start producing in big games, and consistently. He has done one of those two lets see if he can follow through the rest of the season!

    Stars of the first weekend:

    1. Fellaini
    2. Cazorla
    3. Michu
    4. Hazard

  • Comment number 16.

    As a United fan I am chuffed we lost! Of course I am not but in all seriousness if this is what we need to make Fergie wake and buy at least one world class midfielder than I will gladly take the defeat.

    United teams of the last 20 years have been built on solid central midfield. All through his time at OT Fergie has had central midfielders like Robson, Ince, Keane, Scholes etc but since the last great pairing of Keane/Scholes partnership was broken up he's never replaced them. Everton played well and used their height to exploit our lack of but as the man says lack of chances contributed majorly to this defeat. If we had players to get that ball down, keep control and create then maybe we would have gotten something. Look at the best teams out there Barca, Real, Man City they all have an abundance of midfielders and a great mix as well. Ball winners and creaters.

    We need at least one world class centre mid. I didn't understand the Moura bid as he looked too out and out attacking mid. Kagawa again seems like another Park to me I admit I don't know a great deal about him so only time will tell. Cleverly I think is a rough diamond and the boy can play some but needs to be partnered with a top midfielder in his prime not a Scholes who plays every 1 out of 3 games and will be shattered by December.

    I guess now the question begs who is out there to buy...

  • Comment number 17.

    I just get the faint impression that there are a number of the current Manchester United squad who are more than happy to warm the bench and take home a very handsome wage packet.
    Ferguson is the man who made this situation happen when he caved into Rooney's demands.

  • Comment number 18.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 19.

    You know you're doing something right when Fergie starts bleating about it after the game. Well played, Everton.

  • Comment number 20.

    This was always going to be a tough opening fixture, even more tough having 3 central defenders out injured.

    Fair play to everton, they snapped, they cracked and wanted it more. Better team won, and it hopefully will show SAF that he needs to re-work his lineup or bring in a DM. Feillani was all over the place and neither scholes nor cleverley could contain him.

    Not sure why valencia was preferred to rafael? Nani was as frustrating as usual, shame because I had hoped he would turn a corner.

  • Comment number 21.

    3.At 08:08 21st Aug 2012, Colin Hall wrote:
    After seeing how poor Carrick is at defending aerially in the England game, how can the Man U coaching staff allocate him to mark Fellaini from a corner. Surely Vidic should have pulled rank and picked up a player who had butchered United all night in the air.

    People conveniently forget that vidic was marking jelavic, another guy who's rather good in the air. Unfortunately, utd had too many central defenders injured and paid the price.

  • Comment number 22.

    With the condition of that defence, no team in the EPL could have survived at Everton. Kagawa is a good buy, If I were Sir Alex, I would have subed Rooney. He seems to be tired from the Euros. Utd needs a decent centre back before the transfer deadline.

  • Comment number 23.

    First off, well done to Everton, they were fantastic last night. Fellaini dominated us in the air and his hold up play was brilliant, while Jagielka put in 3 game saving tackles for them. Baines was also great and I wish we had bought him in to replace Evra, who was awful defensively once again.

    The positives for me were Kagawa and de Gea. Kagawa played some great through balls and was constantly looking for space, something we need in the final third. De Gea looked solid all night and had no chance for the goal. Hopefully after a few more games we'll hit our stride a bit more and start winning these games.

    On the downside, Nani, Rooney and Evra were all terrible, Nani in particular. I'm getting sick of his inconsistency, on his day he can be world class but there are too many games like last night where he cannot beat the first man with his crosses and doesn't even try to dribble. Rooney looked out of sorts and every touch of his was too heavy, whilst Evra constantly gave away possession and got caught out of position. Another worry, one that Ferguson seems to have spotted judging by his post match comments, was that we went to the old standby of sideways passing to the wings and put in a hopeful cross when struggling to break Everton down. This would be great if we had someone like Fellaini to aim for, but when you're aiming for a tiny little Japanese man it's probably the wrong strategy.

    Please Ferguson, new defensive midfielder before the transfer window closes.

  • Comment number 24.

    Come on Everton! Got them in the handicap so need a good start from them. Still need to sign another defender (cover for Hibbert and Distin) and a winger (cover for Pienaar and Osman) in my opinion as the squad does look thin. Couple of loan signings would do.

  • Comment number 25.

    Moyes is the best manager in the PL.

    As simple as that.

    (And I'm no Everton fan).

  • Comment number 26.

    Even as a United fan I can only sing the praises of Everton. They were Great in attack and unbreachable in defence I can see any club struggling against them this season.

    On the plus side for United Kagawa and Cleverly were superb in midfield and Scholes was lucky not to get sent off although I think Nani's booking after 2mins was an absolute joke and almost certainly affected him mentally. A massive improvement is still needed from Wayne Rooney though as he was terrible. All he seemed to do was take bad touches or fall over when he had the ball.

    De Gea was immense in goal and proved why he was worth the money I just hope eventually he learns to attack the ball when he punches it not just stick out a fist just in front of the striker's head.

    I don't have any great concerns after watching last night I even thought our makeshift defence looked ok but vidic needs to protect Carrick more he isn't strong enough in the air, may only worry is Rooney.

  • Comment number 27.

    25.At 08:48 21st Aug 2012, Rolf McHarris wrote:
    Moyes is the best manager in the PL.

    Yes, his long list of honours speaks volumes!!

  • Comment number 28.

    Fergie Out!!!!!!!


  • Comment number 29.

    A very poor performance from Wayne Rooney. It was almost as if he was wearing an England shirt.

  • Comment number 30.

    United looked 'light' and not physically able to control the game. And is it just me or does Vidic look ill? he looks like he's lost at least a couple of stone.

  • Comment number 31.

    Well...both teams had their periods of domination in the game. Everton were rampant in the first half, with excellent pressing and closing down of any space available. Their tactic of "lumping it forward" as SAF called it was effective if lacking somewhat in subtlety, but in reality Fellaini did much more than SAF's phrase would have you believe. You showed a great first touch for such a lanky individual and the ball appeared to be magnetically drawn towards his chest throughout much of the match, a great performance from him.

    The lack of efforts from Utd doesn't have me particularly worried, the team will gel and normal order will be restored. What does worry me is that for the 3rd game in a row now we've been undone by this very same tactic against Everton, it worries me immensely that the combined wisdom of SAF and the coaching staff at Old Trafford have not managed to find a way of disrupting a 40yrd lob to a 6ft4 Belgian with an afro. This fact was more or less confirmed by the use of Carrick to mark him on corners rather than the returning (and impressive) Vidic, very strange.

    Other bones i'd particularly like to pick at this moment in time are as follows, and in no particular order;

    1 - The inability of any Utd player to cross beyond the front post. This is basic, this is something you expect a 12yr old to be able to do. Yet season after season we see the same near post crossing routine from corners which is now creeping into our outfield play too.

    2 - Nani - he was simply awful last night. He showed all of his bad qualities, the constant moaning, lack of consistent final ball/shot and a level of petulance.

    3 - Evra - hopefully this Buttner character will give him some competition because Evra has been dross for about a year now

    4 - Last but not least, Wayne Rooney, a staggeringly ineffective performance from him. His touch was heavy and he seemed to lack any form of technique.

  • Comment number 32.

    This was a bad loss in many different ways. Obviously, the scoreline and the loss of three points puts them behind Chelsea and Man city already, but more worryingly, it was the manner of this loss that must concern Ferguson primarily.

    The lack of goals from his strikers is becoming serious. Rooney's lack of a cutting edge has left his side limp up front even with Van Persie's arrival. They huffed and puffed away in the second half to no real purpose.

    Nani, and Evra are almost shadows of the players they were a year ago, and the midfield seems to prefer ball watching, hoping that Scholes's magic will somehow return.

    Kagawa was the only bright light along with De Gea, and when United's central defenders return, they will tighten up at the back, but this goal famine will get worse, particularly if Rooney is not called to order. His effort was poor, especially since he had only last week, asked him teammates to focus on the task ahead.

    One game in the hopper already and the problems are clear for all to see.

  • Comment number 33.

    Everton showed far more character and determination against a sloppy MUFC team of little men, both in stature and in performance.
    A six footer in central defence would help whilst if Fergie thinks his midfield is top class then it is time he and his two cohorts who sat like uninspiring zombies on the touchline should consider a mass resignation as United are little more than a mid-table side.
    Thank heavens for DE GEA!!!!!

  • Comment number 34.

    In my opinion the formation of 4-3-3 will not work for Utd.
    They are at their best playing with wingers and they have some of the best in the league in that position, especially in Valencia who is a superb player.

    Is this a tactic Fergie has tried quite often in pre-season?

  • Comment number 35.

    Is this result that much of a shock? I am personally not that convinced by this United side. I felt we were still way too dependent on Giggs and Scholes last year and do not see how that is going to change this year. Don't get me wrong this does not make United a terrible team and we may well still win the league. However, it does seem a long time now since we were a team that completely dominates games and when a loss at Everton would be a genuine surprise.

  • Comment number 36.

    i surely do have my reservations on the comments of the so called football pundits in the uk .the reason is being that i have followed their various comments on different sites and there seems to be a coalition against arsenal and arsene wenger.the reason am still investigating.when arsenal falter lith the draw against sunderland , the whole english pundits are already analysing the absence of rvp and how they are not a title contender but united did not even manage a draw but were beaten convincingly by an Everton without any major signing in their line , the so called pundits could only analyze that it is early in the season, wat a bias analysis.the pundits did not see how united struggled all through in the middle of the park without a clear cut play maker but it is only arsenal that will make good analysis for watching from distance in Nigeria.

  • Comment number 37.

    Phil you ask why wasn't Vidic assigned to Felly?

    Vidic would not have fared any better against him, you make it sound as if all the guy possesses is heading ability. He would outplay Vidic in every department, that would leave Utd without any central defence and last night, the score line would of been far worse. As it was the scoreline did not do justice to the Everton performance.

    Myself and many other posters [even the rational Utd supporters] have questioned Utd's buying policy over the last 2/3 seasons. Last night showed how SAF has got it badly wrong. The lunacy of buying fast wide men without addressing the central midfield or defence is coming home to roost.

    This is the worst Utd team i've seen for many, many years, it lacks balance, it lacks penetration [it will roll over teams that throw the towel in because it's Utd] it lacks fight. There was no urgency [the same comment for Liverpool on saturday] and at no time could you see it improving.

    Fergies pathetic 'they lumped the ball forward' was the hallmark of sour grapes and old man failing to come to terms with defeat. That was not aimless route one stuff last night.

    All barring three players for Utd were dismal, De Gea was superb, they have a lot to thank him for. Scholes, was alone midfielder who whilst fresh looked the part. Kagawa, high class [you had to be there to see his movement off the ball] but he could soon be bought down to the rest of the teams level.

    I made the comment last week, Everton when the first team is fit are a match for any team in the premiership. Last night they were more than a match they outclassed the supposedly class team.

  • Comment number 38.

    Spot on Phil!

    The Facebook notifications for Manchester United called this a 'narrow' defeat when we were quite frankly outplayed in every area of the field!

    Nani didn't have a good game and Valencia's pace and crossing ability was wasted at right-back. Carrick couldn't deal with Fellaini for the goal but it was Fellaini's ability to hold the ball up that allowed Everton so much penetration and the opportunity to create chances in the first half. When United attacked in the latter stages of the game, they just couldn't break them down because Everton had so many men behind the ball.

    For me, Fellaini epitomises everything that this current Manchester United team lack - raw power, stature and presence, whether that role comes upfront in attack or in midfield where the back four are protected. On a plus point, I thought Kagawa was outstanding - his vision and passing was top draw.

    Phil, I'd be interested to know who you think United should sign in midfield and the difference they could make. Moussa Dembele from Fulham and Victor Wanyama from Celtic are names that have been mentioned this Summer...

  • Comment number 39.

    Everton were worthy winners, and looked like a very useful team last night despite losing Cahill and Rodwell. I think they can realistically look to finish in the top six this term, as long as their top players remain fit.

    Great article Phil, with some good points. The only thing you haven't touched on (unsurprisingly) is the section of the MUFC fans who were chanting abuse about the Hillsborough disaster towards the Everton fans, I have no idea why they did this at Goodison Park, I guess they simply cannot help themselves can they?

    It was disgraceful, disrespectful, and ironically, an embarrassment to their own club. Action should be taken.

  • Comment number 40.

    At 08:51 21st Aug 2012, eduard_streltsov_ghost wrote:

    25.At 08:48 21st Aug 2012, Rolf McHarris wrote:
    Moyes is the best manager in the PL.

    Yes, his long list of honours speaks volumes!!


    With the funds his had at his disposal, i'd have agree. He's certainly up there!!

    At 08:53 21st Aug 2012, saranta wrote:

    A very poor performance from Wayne Rooney. It was almost as if he was wearing an England shirt.

    So funny! Someone actually commented that WR looked tired because of the Euro's - Was he there??

    Still, they only lost cuz they were missing 3 central defenders! Hope for your sake Martin Jol & the Fulham players were out & missed the game last night otherwise i can see them exploiting the same weaknesses!!

  • Comment number 41.

    Hard to feel bitter about this one as I think Everton's team are massively underrated. I reckon they'll finish top 6. Whatever you think of their tactics football is a results game and Moyes got it spot on exploiting Utd's weakness.

    Nothing to panic about yet, 4 centre halves missing and Nani was shocking so not much new! Back four needed protecting.

    Kagawa looks a handy little player, very good passer, always looking for the ball and gets stuck in. He was like a more technical version of Park

  • Comment number 42.

    At 08:48 21st Aug 2012, Rolf McHarris wrote:
    Moyes is the best manager in the PL.

    As simple as that.


    Cant agree with that comment.

    Good manager but not the best.

    Hasn't won a sausage in the 10 years as Everton boss.
    He has done a exellent job there though.

  • Comment number 43.

    25.At 08:48 21st Aug 2012, Rolf McHarris wrote:
    Moyes is the best manager in the PL.

    Yes, his long list of honours speaks volumes!!


    Bit unfair to judge him solely based on his honours list. I'm not saying I agree with the post before but honours aren't the only thing to judge a manager on. In the last 7 years that would make Wenger a worse manager than McLeish. Seems a little unfair! A lot of things make a good manager, but outside of the top clubs it would probably be between O'Neil and Moyes.

  • Comment number 44.

    How did Vidic not get a yellow card card for one of the worst shirt pullings i've ever seen. I don't personally think shirt pulling is that bad but the rules are there and every single time it happens it's a yellow card,unless you're a utd player of course!!

  • Comment number 45.

    Thoroughly enjoyed this outstanding Everton performance. They were by far and away the better side, even when I thought they were mistakenly attempting to preserve their one goal advantage.
    I am one of those who has never really taken to the Goodison Park outfit for some reason, preferring instead to admire neighbours Liverpool over the years. But last night showed just what an amazing job David Moyes is doing, as he manages to squeeze every last drop of effort and skill from a team who are so willing to fulfill his wishes on the pitch.
    Yes, Fellaini was brilliant, but let's not forget the role played by the entire team, without exception.
    Distan marshalled Rooney virtually out of the game, and was a huge tower of strength at the back in general. Jelavic provided fantastic support for Fellaini, and will chase the ball until he drops, which in the end he appeared to.
    United looked decent in patches, but appeared to be devoid of ideas as to how to break down the Everton defence. And when it appears that De Gea was the Reds man of the match for his first half performance alone, then this just about sums up the teams overall efforts.
    It wasn't the ideal start for Van Persie, coming on as 68th minute substitute, but he will certainly come good in his new surroundings, as they cry out for someone who is capable of breaking down a well drilled defence.
    Well done Everton, and in particular, well done David Moyes, who must be the most talented manager in the Premier League, when you consider the club's resources.

  • Comment number 46.

    Phil one other point

    Felly has not just become a good player, If i was asked who was the best utility [hate the term] player in the premiership [has been for a couple of seasons] it would be Felly. He can play anywhere through the entire middle of a team. The most amazing part about Felly is no one has come in and offered big money for him in the last 2 years. Everton could and would not turn down an offer if the price was right.

  • Comment number 47.

    The only let down in the game was poor service from Nani and the misfiring Rooney. I wonder why Fergie didn't play Rafael at RB and release Valencia to the right wing. It is only the first game which I enjoyed with good link up play from Kagawa and Cleverly

  • Comment number 48.

    SAF OUT!

  • Comment number 49.

    "Everton fielded a bigger and more powerful unit than United - but it was still a source of mystery why Carrick found himself so often attempting to stop Fellaini rather than Vidic. " My thoughts exactly while i was watching the game, nonetheless this will be a good lesson for SAF, although i still cant wrap my head on the bad performance of EVRA,ROONEY, NANI, WELLBECK and poor old CARRICK. At the same time KAGAWA and De Gea were brilliant. Leighton Baines was also good and it would be worth the risk to go and buy even at inflated price. All in all i was impressed by the amount of potential we have for the attack and Midfield just hope our new signing will help shore up our defence

  • Comment number 50.

    Manchester united line was good but the problem was at the midfield thee were no tall player to deal with Fellaini and another worst mistake that manutd did was putting Carrick at the back to be use as a central defender, to me see Carrick there i knew we will have a hard time defending. to me he should be left at the central midfield to deal with Fellaini as they both tall so Fergi please buy a tall and defensive midfield who can detect the pace of the game as also yesterday that was a big problem with manutd.

  • Comment number 51.

    A 1-0 loss at Everton doesn't seem that bad but the manner of the defeat must leave Sir Alex distinctly worried. What's happened to Rooney and for that matter Vidic? Ferdinand, Scholes and Giggs will surely not be able to paper over the cracks another year. With Utd share price falling fast on Dow Jones, will Glazers fork up more money to get the players that United need within next 10 days. Pray that VP doesn't get injured.

  • Comment number 52.

    Shame Fergie had to be so sour about our performance but the truth is that Moyes roused his players and planned his game better. Everton are a good side. We've got some really good, honest, hard working players and for all the criticism Moyes and Kenwright get from the Blue Union they really have done an amazing job with almost no financial resources.

    But it's only one game. I think it's a safe bet that RVP will score more than Fellaini and we know that it will be United not Everton challenging for the PL this season.

    But this is the kind of start to the season we needed and hopefully we can build on the confidence it inspires. I think it's a little optimistic to predict CL football for us next season but EL would be a nice re-introduction for us.

    Well done Everton.

  • Comment number 53.

    SAF gracious in defeat as ever!

  • Comment number 54.

    £24m for another striker to warm the bench when the money would have been better spent on the very player who tore us apart.. brilliant Fergie!

    How many years now have United fans been calling for a physical presence in midfield? Yet, despite having five useful strikers last season (Rooney, Welbeck, Hernandez, Berbatov & Owen) we go and buy another and ignore the real issue! I'm getting sick of it! What's the point in having so many attacking midfielders and strikers if we can't get/keep the ball!?

  • Comment number 55.


    They didn't really have a choice with Ferdinand, Jones, Smalling and Evans all injured. Carrick did fine, Fellaini intentionally played off him in open play and was always going to win those aerial duels. Other than those, he acquitted himself pretty well in a different position than he is used to.

    Agree about the dm though. What I wouldn't give for Yaya Toure coming to United...

  • Comment number 56.

    I don't think Man Utd should just buy players because they are world class (referring to RVP) they should buy players who fill in the weaknesses to the squad and United definetely didn't need more strike power. Wasted buy, i suggest they spend more in midfield. But too late, the damage has been done. And i say the same to Barca, why is Song needed there, he is destined to be a bench warmer against the likes of mascherano or sergio busquets.

  • Comment number 57.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 58.

    Everton's squad still looks thin:

    Hibbert Heitinga Jagielka Baines
    Pienaar Fellaini Neville Mirallas

    ???? Distin Duffy Coleman
    Osman Gibson Barkley ?????
    Vellios Anichebe

    Could use cover at CB/RB and a winger.

  • Comment number 59.

    Great Start to the season, and even though City won it they had to dig deep for it and could have quite easily lost at home.

    Newcastle win on a late penalty

    Sunderland Frustrated Arsenal

    Liverpool lost to West Brom

    Wigan pushed Chelsea all the way and with some better finishing could have got something from the game.

    Loved it when Moyes said that everyone was talking about Man U and RVP but forgot about them.

    Great display not only from Fellani but also Baines, Jag and Distan.

    No real concerns for Man U really, they just have not hit the floor running but they were the better team in terms of passing and possession but did not have the cohesion up front, but that will come.

    I think some idiot said after one game now Man U are chasing, its 1 game and the season doesnt really start to take shape till just before Christmas.

    But what a great start and advertisement for the Prem, all good games this weekend and all close games where the result could have gone either way.

  • Comment number 60.

    I wrote on a previous blog that it is not really worth reading too much into results until about 10 league games have been played.

    Having said that if Everton start the season well I believe they could finish 5th or 6th this season as in recent years they have generally started sluggishly and still achieved a top 10 finish.

  • Comment number 61.

    20.At 08:46 21st Aug 2012, eduard_streltsov_ghost wrote:

    Hi ESG
    I watched the game at a friends house , he follows Man Utd.
    Our conclusions were:
    Utd looked like they were trying to play like a poor mans Barcelona in midfield, nice passing but getting nowhere.
    Vidic looks as if he has lost a lot of weight and muscle and was not as dominant as befpre the injury.
    Wellbeck was wasted on the left wing , Valencia wasted at right back.
    Rooney and Nani were well of the pace , in fact we thought Ven Persie would come on for Rooney.

    People are getting a bit carried away with Everton , they had a good first half and ouplayed Utd for 60 mins, but Everton did virtually nothing but park the bus for the last 30 mins.

  • Comment number 62.

    Why am i not surprised that Fergie can't just hold his hands up and say he got it wrong and that Everton were deserved winners? Also why am i not surprised that the media say no need to panic just yet, yet they already report that Arsenal are in crisis for failing to register against Sunderland

  • Comment number 63.

    Rooney is really showing his true colours now isn't he? A selfish individual with limited ability and getting worse season by season. Ferguson has to take the plunge and leave him on the bench where he can earn his £200k. As for Nani, Ferdinand, Evra etc the less said the better. This squad is incredibly lightweight, as I said in another blog, there's no-one who can tackle!

  • Comment number 64.

    Cracking performance by Everton. De Gea was superb last night and but for him, The Toffees would have had a hat full.

    Just a shame that Ferguson continues to spout rubbish about teams that beat United. I watched the game and Everton passed the ball beautifully at times. They didn't in his words just lump it to Fellaini.

    Ferguson really has got that bitter look in his eyes at the moment. He just embarrassed himself last night with his comments (even though he's pretty much un-embarrassable)

  • Comment number 65.

    Perhaps it's a day to praise Everton instead of exchanging silly points. Moyes keeps showing that it's possible to have a good presence in the Premier League without bank accounts and he shows that for 10 years now.

    Right now, Everton is a much better team than Liverpool. If Miralas is half as good as it's alleged he is, would this be a year that Everton hit top four for a second time? If they don't have a long deep in form during the season, it wouldn't surprise me.

  • Comment number 66.

    I think some people are making too much of Utd being overpowered by Fellaini.
    Evertons Midfield apart from him are tiny.

    If you are not going to beat the two big men in the air then you have to stop the supply which is what Utd failed to do. You are not going to get a lot of hard defensive work out of the likes of Nani, Scholes, Kagawa.
    To my mind Fergie got the tactics and players wrong. Anderson, which ever one of the twins is left, and giggs should have started to make Utd harder to beat.

  • Comment number 67.

    Fergies comments about Fellani were spot-on; all they did was hoof it up to him. It was the right tactics against a misfit United defense, but lets not pretend verton did anything special. Any side with a player like Fellani would have done the same thing, you don't need football skill to play like that.

    When are we going to buy central midfielders? Cleverleys still unproven, Andersen is an overpriced flop, Scholes is too old. We may as well try Berbatov in central midfield since he'll never get another league game upfront.

  • Comment number 68.

    I can see the merit in signing RVP after last night. As good as Welbeck was last season, his finishing leaves a lot to be desired and RVP may well have buried the two chances he got. Also, if Rooney is having an off day, there's otherwise no Plan B.

  • Comment number 69.

    Sir Alex Ferguson. what a gentleman. prat.

  • Comment number 70.

    "People are getting a bit carried away with Everton , they had a good first half and ouplayed Utd for 60 mins, but Everton did virtually nothing but park the bus for the last 30 mins"

    So they outplayed United for 2/3 of the game, then managed to defend a lead in the last 30 mins, keeping a clean sheet, something United couldn't manage.

  • Comment number 71.

    65.At 09:30 21st Aug 2012, Mind the gap wrote:
    Perhaps it's a day to praise Everton instead of exchanging silly points. Moyes keeps showing that it's possible to have a good presence in the Premier League without bank accounts and he shows that for 10 years now.


    Agreed, though their best player last night cost £15m!

  • Comment number 72.


    Oh dear

  • Comment number 73.

    Moyes the best manager in the PL? And its as simple as that is it?

    Urm, no.

    He might have a player that looks like Sideshow Bob, but Moyes is no Chief Wiggum. Wiggum is at Utd, and he's the boss hog.

  • Comment number 74.

    Part of the problem is that SAF is living in dreamland. The days of two fast wingers actually making teams win trophies is dead. Spurs will keep trying it but it simple exposes the middle of the park and nullify's it effectiveness. Look at the two Spanish giants, Chelsea, City etc, the game in now won and lost in centre midfield. Nani is to in and out to be relied on so you are effectively playing with 3 in midfield against players such as Iniesta, Xavi, Ozil, Yaya etc.

    Until he buys a really creative midfielder the problems will continue to be there, if he thinks having '4 top strikers' will work like it did in 1999 he is deluded, the game has moved on.

  • Comment number 75.

    Have not seen any of the usual stat guys on so far.

    Possession, possession, possession yep it wins games, does it? I've long held the view that it is useful to have the lions share of possession but like Liverpool on Saturday it's absolutely useless when you don't know how to use it.

    Jelly up front shows you can still get value for money, around 5 mill and the guy never stopped probing and his movement took Utd's defence [especially Vidic] all over the place. Proving the age old adage, what you do when you don't have the ball can be equally as valuable as when you have it.

    Tony Hibbert, I'd class as one of the least talented footballers in the league but as a defender he's up there with. The prime job of a defender is to defend and he is very good at that, just wish he could score that one goal he craves. The testimonial does not count.

    I was disappointed with Pienaar last night [he has set his own standard] never stopped running as usual and kept the Utd defence busy.

    I think that was the key last night, in every department, Everton were superior.

  • Comment number 76.

    No creativity and no heart! 1 scrappy chance created! It's fergie who picks who marks who at set plays not visit! Everton were by far the better team. Dunno what the hype is about cleverly...doesn't look to clever to me!! And biggest club in World allegedly should be able to cope with a few injuries!!! Forget the inquests and give everton their dues!!

  • Comment number 77.

    Everton should sign Michael Dawson from Spurs - would fit in nicely as cover at CB. Charlie Adam from Liverpool would also be a good signing for midfield cover.

  • Comment number 78.

    Also I wonder if Vidic has been advised to lose weight on top to help his now weekend knee. Nadal needed to do that in Tennis as it puts too much pressure on the joints.

  • Comment number 79.

    "He might have a player that looks like Sideshow Bob, but Moyes is no Chief Wiggum. Wiggum is at Utd, and he's the boss hog."

    I see a theme here.

    Rooney - Nelson Muntz
    Mancini - Dr Nick Riviera
    Redknapp - Barney Gumble
    Moyes - Mo Siszlak

  • Comment number 80.

    The reality is that United did extraordinarily well to run City so close last season. I don't think Sir Alex has been given the funds he really needs. IMO he bought RVP to cover Rooney's anticipated continuing decline. Contrary to what people have said on here, I don't think Utd are particularly strong even in attack. Atletico Bilbao, mid-table Spanish side, ran rings round Utd in two games exposing a side which looks well past their sell-by date.

  • Comment number 81.

    As an Arsenal fan I was assured that if we'd had RVP we'd have stuffed Sunderland, what happened last night? ;-)

    Kidding aside, much like Arsenal's result, there's no need for panic. New season, new players to settle in, no point drawing conclusions for half a dozen games.

  • Comment number 82.

    The fact that there are so many comments from Liverpool fans aimed at United fans today shows just how obsessed they are with United. Still, let them carry on while we (Everton) just go about the business of winning games. Great performance last night and an indication of how good we are at Goodison on our day. We don't need validation about how well we played from anyone, Ferguson included.

  • Comment number 83.

    Ho, ho, oh dear, that wasn't supposed to happen, was it?

    I didn't watch all the game but a couple of observations:-

    1) Man U's kit looked a bit rubbish.
    2) When Anderson came on, he seemed to be filling his top good and proper.
    3) Man U may bemoan injuries, but, WHY are they suffering from so many injuries, and too defenders too, time after time?
    4) The win means more to Everton than the loss means to Man U.
    5) Is this flash in the pan or have Everton now got a better formula?
    6) Should I bother reading the blog or will I learn more from the comments section?

    Might be other points as the day goes on....

  • Comment number 84.

    Guernsey Red @71
    Agreed, though their best player last night cost £15m!

    He may have looked Everton's best player but by how far.

    Jelly up front was superb, did a real job on Vidic. Hibbert defensively superb. Baines a threat going forward as well as his usual defensive job.

    Jags and Distin, absolutely rock solid how a densive pairing should be.

    Neville and Gibbo [2 Utd discards] quietly held the team together, no thrills and kept it simple.

    Osman like Hibbert, certainly not the greatest player in the league but 100% as usual last night, they were so busy they always carried a threat.

    That was a top notch team performance, Felly stood out but watching the match it was hard to find a negative for any of them.

  • Comment number 85.

    Fellani is a brilliant player and on his day can be unplayable. I think he has suffered in the past from not having a clearly defined role in the team [he definitely has one now] and has lacked a bit of discipline.

    Man Utd were clearly off the pace last night. They have injuries in defence but even when the likes of Ferdinand, Jones and Smalling return I don't think they have enough strength in depth in that area. The big unknown is whether Vidic will be able to recapture the form he had before the injury - often a player never fully recovers from a serious injury like that, especially at his age.

  • Comment number 86.

    Always amuses me how people on here write their knee jerk garbage. Title gone for Utd? IT'S ONE GAME and Utd are notoriously slow starters.

    Anyway, take nothing away from Everton who were superb all over the park. All teams tend to up their game against Utd so don't be suprised if Everton go and lose to Villa this weekend. I hope it's not the case though because as a neutral to the Premier League Everton represent what a good team is and not one that is compiled by some sugar daddy looking for a monetary return.

    As for Utd, they need a defence and midfield that have a clue how to play football. With the exception of Kagawa they were terrible. I'm sure it will all change and Fulham will be on the receiving end of a heavy beating this weekend.

  • Comment number 87.

    Everton have a better squad than a lot of people give them credit for, Moyes has bought well as he normally does but i dont see fat Charlie Adam being whats needed in the Everton midfield, he's unbelievably slow, cant tackle or dribble and always goes for the spectacular pass which usually strays when the simple pass would have been better.......Rodgers seems to realize Adams is cack and wants rid i would just be surprised if a Liverpool reject made it into Moyes plans as he's done something Liverpool have failed to do over the good players at very reasonable prices....Lfc have bought players for twice or even three time as much as Everton have (Carroll - Jelavic)

  • Comment number 88.

    @74 Although ne need stronger central midfielders that wasn't the only reason why we lost last night. Everton bypassed the midfield with their long balls to Fellani, with central midfielders as poor as Gibson its no wonder Everton like the long ball approach.

    We didn't create enough, that is down to the midfield, but Evertons tactics were largely responsible for that.

  • Comment number 89.

    I suppose you did watch the game, and if so who would you judge as the greater threat aerially?. Fellaini had murdered United aerially all night, Jelovic is decent in the air, but nowhere near the threat of Fellaini, especially from set plays. I can assure you that other has been Ferdinand, would have been little better than Carrick at handling the big man. I remember Duncan Ferguson frightening Rio to death in a previous encounter.

  • Comment number 90.

    84.At 09:47 21st Aug 2012, Londoner in exile returns wrote:

    I think Fellaini was the difference as he just won every ball that came his way.

    It was a great all round team performance but you have to be cautious as a la Rafael Nadal you can't do that every week! After 65 minutes they looked out on their feet, Jagielka and Distin notably though it is the first game of the season I can't see that level of effort going into every game without a mass of injuries following it!

    Interesting people are writing obituaries as City conceded two at home to a team many have tipped for relegation and but for two defensive errors may have lost. But for De Gea it should have been more than one but Jagielka and Distin were absolutely flawless and that may have been the difference.

  • Comment number 91.

    65.At 09:30 21st Aug 2012, Mind the gap wrote:
    Moyes keeps showing that it's possible to have a good presence in the Premier League without bank accounts and he shows that for 10 years now.

    If Miralas is half as good as it's alleged he is, would this be a year that Everton hit top four for a second time?

    It has been established on many previous blogs that Moyes has the 8th biggest budget in the EPL and has averaged 8th place in the final standings. So consistent but nothing special.

    In my opinion Everton do not have the squad in depth to finish in the top 4. They played well last night for 60 mins but they need to keep up that tempo for 38 games.

  • Comment number 92.

    mrblueburns @83

    5) Is this flash in the pan or have Everton now got a better formula?

    No that is basically Everton's first [they only have one] team. If all are fit they are a match for anyone tactically and certainly in terms of energy on the pitch.

    But that's the problem, they don't have options when it comes to freshening the team. If they carry this form into the season, they are going to struggle late on. It's sad but that is a fact.

    Loved your kit comment as the number I point, it was Utd's highlight on a very low evening for them.

  • Comment number 93.


    Given that McNulty is the author of the blog there is no reason whatesoever to read it.

  • Comment number 94.

    Not the best start but Everton away (with an evening kick off) was always going to be one the hardest fixtures of the opening weekend. We just couldn't cope with the long ball. Only Vidic in the entire team could contest a header, Fellaini was the difference between the teams. Jelavic barely got a kick, Pienaar was quiet but we just couldn't handle the long ball.

    But, we won't be playing Fellaini every week and we won't (hopefully!) only have half a defence every week so it's hardly panic stations yet.

  • Comment number 95.

    As a City fan, I was obvious pleased with the result last night. However I was delighted in the manner of United’s defeat.

    Carrick in defence and assigned to pick up Fellaini?! Obviously a tactical assignment made by Fergie and one they stuck with despite what was happening on the pitch.

    United’s midfield still lacks power. Kagawa looks a good link-up play maker but not a real driving force. Nani looks disinterested. Whichever one of the Da Silva twins still there is as bad as the one at QPR.

    Obviously United will get better and still will be a force, there are too many good players in that squad for them not to be. But it really is surprising to see cracks in that squad so early in the season.

  • Comment number 96.

    as a total neutral who has no allegiance to any premier club i was impressed
    with everton, the way david moyes continues to build decent teams on a
    shoestring budget is amazing. everton fans i hope you truly realise what
    an incredible manager you have. utd for me are still missing a world class
    creative mid fielder, if he was given a run in the side kaka could be the answer?

  • Comment number 97.

    At 09:29 21st Aug 2012, parkthebuskickandrush wrote:

    Rooney is really showing his true colours now isn't he? A selfish individual with limited ability and getting worse season by season. Ferguson has to take the plunge and leave him on the bench where he can earn his £200k.

    I agree. He is one player i truly loath.He is exremely overrated and way overhyped.
    The media make him look far better than he really is. To me he is just an average plodder with a very poor attitude when he doesn't get his way..

    So there will be no point sitting him on the bench. He will only spit his dummy out and demand another transfer. He will then get another huge pay rise to stay as a result.

  • Comment number 98.

    78.At 09:39 21st Aug 2012, SirHellsBells wrote:
    Also I wonder if Vidic has been advised to lose weight on top to help his now weekend knee.

    Does that mean he cant play on Wedenesday/Tuesday nights in the champions league ? :)

  • Comment number 99.

    Fergie really is looking more and more desperate. First he signs RVP (admittedly an excellent player) for a hefty sum and on astronomical wages for four years and now he is completely unable to admit that Utd were outclassed tactically, physically and in effort. It is only early, but questions have to be asked as to whether the old man is losing his grip and should do the honorable thing: step aside and let new blood take over or risk sullying his reputation. He arguably 'knocked Liverpool off their perch' (though obviously not if we include Europe) but I bet he never expected to play second fiddle to City. Utd no longer dominate financially as they did throughout their years of success and Fergie's excuses are starting to make him a laughing stock.

  • Comment number 100.


    "Always amuses me how people on here write their knee jerk garbage. Title gone for Utd? IT'S ONE GAME and Utd are notoriously slow starters."

    No it doesn't amuse you, that's something you write to try and make out you're not bothered.


    Agreed MrBB, United's kit looks like one of those fake replica kits you can but from the local flea market for a fiver. You know, the ones the poor kids used to wear down the park


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