The opening game of the season is usually seen as a statement of intent for the top clubs in the Premier League, but last night Manchester United fans witnessed their team crumble against a defiant Everton team.
United were facing defensive woes even before the match had begun, with Michael Carrick being forced to play centre half, and it was clear that they were having difficulties with marking Everton's tall Fellaini. In the 56th minute their weaknesses were left exposed, as Fellaini headed in the one and only goal Everton needed to give United their first Premier League opening game loss in eight years.
To the surprise of many, Ferguson didn't choose to start new signing Robin van Persie, instead opting for the Rooney/Welbeck pairing that proved successful last season. Van Persie's Manchester United debut following his controversial move from Arsenal was heavily anticipated, but he wasn't introduced into the game until late in the second half. Although he almost set up fellow new signing Shinji Kagawa, Van Persie failed to take a shot, but United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has pointed the finger of blame firmly at himself.
"We played around him too much, we didn't show enough penetration," he said. "With Robin in your team you know you want to use his ability against centre-backs in situations he is very good at – but we didn't use him enough."
Ferguson also bemoaned the referee's decision-making, saying: “I thought Danny Welbeck maybe was pushed as he went in the box. That was a big moment.
“It’s difficult here, you have the crowd influencing the referee all the time and it makes it difficult for you."
After the match, David Moyes took the time to praise his squad, who had defended their lead resiliently until the final whistle, saying: I dare not say what the season holds for us but we have made a great start for once. Fellaini was excellent, we know he is capable of that. He’s a talented footballer.
“United were without a lot of central defenders and he caused them problems", he continued. "We weren’t making headlines before this, they were all about Manchester United, but you must not forget Everton are not a bad side, either."
Header Image: Getty Images