Manchester United lost their opening Premier League game of the season 1-0 at Everton last night.
The performance was flat and it’s fair to say that Everton could have won by more, despite the visitors dominating possession.
Manchester United dominated possession at Goodison Park but did very little with it. Everton created a whole host of chances.
Whereas Manchester United only created one clear-cut chance on goal, a Tom Cleverley effort cleared off the line by Phil Jagielka. Possession is no good to a team if they don’t do anything with it and United did very little with it.
I might be a bit biased in this assessment of Everton’s performance last night, but I thought every player in a blue shirt was outstanding. As usual the Toffees were really well organised and hard to break down and didn’t give United much to work with.
United’s young Spanish keeper David De Gea came in for fierce criticism at times last season and lots of it was harsh on a youngster just learning the game. However, I don’t think anybody could criticise the keeper’s performance last night.
De Gea produced some top class saves to deny Leighton Baines, Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman. Had it not been for De Gea United could have been looking at a far more embarrassing defeat. It just goes to show how badly United played that the young Spaniard was probably their best player.
I have to say that as soon as I saw the teamsheet I thought that United were always in danger of conceding goals. Without Rio Ferdinand, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling central-midfielder Michael Carrick was forced to play at centre-back.
Carrick has played there a few times in the past for United, but he came up against a fierce competitor in Everton’s Marouane Fellaini. The Belgian international dominated the England international all night and scored the winning goal.
Carrick can’t really be blamed for the defeat, because Fellaini was at the top his game and any self-respecting defender would have struggled against him on last nights form. Fellaini rightly won man of the match.
I suspect that United will be far stronger in defence when they have everybody fit and available. The selection of Antonio Valencia at full-back was a perplexing one for me as well. I know he has played there before, but he is not a natural defender.
New signing Robin Van Persie came off the bench for 20 minutes or so and didn’t produce much. I have read many peoples comments on various websites this morning criticising the Dutchman’s display. That is just crazy.
Van Persie has hardly had any pre-season action, and that’s why he wasn’t included from the start for United. He will take time to get match fit again and he can’t be judge on a cameo against a very solid Everton defence.
One thing that United fans must find encouraging is the debut of Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa. I have been singing his praises all summer long and for me he was United’s best outfield player against Everton.
The former-Dortmund star never stopped running and was always demanding the ball. For a creative midfielder he also worked hard all game, despite things not going his or United’s way. I can see him being a big player for United this season.
I have already read some ridiculous comments on various websites about United this morning. Talk about knee-jerk reactions. I can’t believe how fickle some fans can be. Some United fans are already writing off United’s chances of winning the league on the back of one defeat.
I would never write-off United, especially after just one game of the season it would absolutely ludicrous. When United have the likes of Ferdinand, Smalling and Jones back fully fit they will be a completely different proposition.
Then there is Robin Van Persie. When the 29 year-old is match-fit, then he guarantees the Red Devils goals. For all those doom and gloom merchants out there United are still well and truly alive and kicking.
You can be sure that come May they will be up at the top of the Premier League table with the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea challenging for the title. Write United off at your peril!
Who was United’s best player against Everton?