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 FA Premiership (18); Old Trafford, Manchester; Friday 26 December 2003; 3:00pm
   Butt (8')
 Kleberson (43')
 Bellion (68') 
 
Attendance: 67,642
Halftime: 2-1

Facts
Reports
Neville (o.g. 13')
Ferguson (89')

Referee: M. Dean
 

Nothing ventured, nothing gained

Manchester United are not the reigning Champions or current Premiership leaders for nothing. Put as many men behind the ball as you like, they're still going to beat you, even with Ruud van Nistelrooy on the bench.

That is hopefully the lesson that David Moyes learned from this open but often bad-tempered encounter at Old Trafford that perpetuates Everton's miserable record against United in the Premiership and snaps their two-game winning streak.

The refreshing thing about Moyes when he first arrived was that he feared no one and was determined to play attacking football irrespective of the opposition. Whether 18 months in the Goodison hotseat has jaded his enthusiasm or he's been talking to Walter Smith who knows, but his strategy of stringing five men across midfield (the fact that one of them was Wayne Rooney was immaterial because he played so deep as to be ineffective) was doomed from the start.

In hindsight, with the 18 year-old having been substituted in the second half following another booking for an immature challenge and being berated by the home fans, it's easy to say that Moyes handled the Rooney factor all wrong by playing him from the start. However, the manager's hand was forced by injury to Tomasz Radzinski who would surely have got the nod up front alongside Kevin Campbell had he been fit.

After a lively opening during which Cristiano Ronaldo had a stooping header stopped by Nigel Martyn, it took United just seven minutes to get on the scoresheet. A dangerous Kleberson cross was cleared by Alan Stubbs straight to Nicky Butt and he fired first time into the bottom corner off the goalkeeper's hands.

Three minutes later, Diego Forlan cut the ball back for Kleberson but, fortunately, the Brazilian side-footed well over the bar.

At this point, with United having found their groove, it looked likely to be another long afternoon at Old Trafford. However, after 12 minutes, the scores were suddenly level when Thomas Gravesen's inswinging free kick glanced off the head of Gary Neville and past Tim Howard with Campbell in close attendance.

Fortuitously level, Everton retained the gameplan with which they had entered the game and United continued to tease and probe from the flanks and down the middle. In the 20th minute, Quinton Fortune picked out Forlan with a cross and Martyn had to save athletically from the Uruguayan's header, parrying the ball over the bar.

Ronaldo, a thorn in the side of Tony Hibbert and Rooney all afternoon, then cut inside and bore down on goal before toe-punting an effort wide before Hibbert scythed him down on the edge of the area three minutes later. Fortunately the winger's direct free kick was easily smothered by Martyn.

With two minutes to go before the half time break, more poor defending allowed the home side to regain the lead. Neville swung a cross into the area from the right that beat Alan Stubbs' mis-timed jump and Kleberson headed downwards past the stranded Martyn to make it 2-1.

That probably changed Moyes's half-time pep talk but it didn't have any visible effect on strategy because the same players lined up in the same formation for the second half, which contined where the first had left off.

United continued to come forward and Hibbert was forced to make a superb saving tackle in the area on Ronaldo, whose swan dive and and feigned agony didn't fool the referee.

By the 58th minute, Ronaldo's antics, coupled with his jinking runs and succession of crosses, had become too much for Rooney who blatantly chopped him down on the touchline with the inevitable consequence of a yellow card. It also served to heighten the torrent of jeering from the crowd.

After 62 minutes, Moyes was finally tempted to make a change, removing Linderoth and Campbell in favour of Francis Jeffers and Duncan Ferguson. But it was Sir Alex Ferguson's men who nearly scored again, Bellion heading over the bar from four yards out as he was picked out by another unchallenged cross from the left flank.

Three minutes later, Bellion did score in acres more space than his previous effort. Ronaldo again provided the center which found its target in the six-yard box and Bellion swept home unchallenged to make it 3-1.

Everton's next response was to pull Rooney and throw McFadden on and suddenly the Blues came into the game a little more. It was all too little too late but they were at least going to go down with a little more fight.

McFadden almost notched his first goal for the club four minutes after his introduction. A great first touch set him up perfectly for a left-foot shot from the edge of the area but Howard was able to paw his effort wide with a full-length dive.

Jeffers then sent a snapshot too close to the 'keeper and was denied before great play by Gravesen set up Ferguson, but from a tight angle he rapped a shot into the side-netting when it might have been more prudent to cross.

The big Scot was to have the last, albeit inconsequential, word though when he stooped to power a header into the net in the 90th minute to set up a nervy injury time period for the home side. Naysmith's cross should have been buried by Jeffers but he missed and it came through to Ferguson at the far post. However, Everton's persistent ability to give the ball away far too easily prevented a shock third goal and a share of the spoils.

Ultimately, it's easy to just consign this one to memory and look ahead to a home clash with erratic Birmingham City, but there was a nagging feeling about this game that we could have nicked something from it had we approached it in a more positive manner.

Playing so deep and leaving Campbell to plough a lonely furrow up front meant that any time a loose ball broke in what would normally be Radzinski territory, there was no one there to capitalise on United's complacent rear-guard.

When the Blues did push forward, they were rewarded with two goals (no mean feat at Old Trafford) but they failed where Fulham were so successful because Moyes afforded them too much respect and too much possession through his Smith-esque strategy.

  • Martyn 7 - More crucial saves kept the Blues in the game
  • Hibbert 6 - Had his work cut out for him today having to contain Ronaldo and did a fair job
  • Unsworth / Stubbs 5 - Between them they must shoulder the blame for goals 2 and 3. Time for Yobo and Weir again?
  • Naysmith 6
  • Rooney 6- Tried manfully to make things happen but was thwarted by a lack of support and Campbell's lack of pace
  • Li Tie / Linderoth 6 - Unspectacular and still unconvincing as the answer to our problems in midfield
  • Gravesen 7 - Creative and profligate in equal measure, it was typical Tommy but he at least makes things happen
  • Kilbane 7 - Seems to be settling in nicely after an iffy start with the club. Had a pretty good game down the left flank
  • Campbell 6 - Unable to really make anything happen without any real support and his knockdowns were going nowhere
  • Jeffers 6 - Struggled to get into the game and in the end his main contribution was a fortuitously legal tackle that ended Silverstre's involvement because of injury.
  • Ferguson /McFadden 7 - Dunc's introduction, coupled with that of McFadden, provided a definite spark and both could have scored, although only Ferguson did with a well-taken header.

Lyndon Lloyd


Tony Hibbert: Back in the frame for the trip to Old Trafford after injury

Man Utd v Everton:
Prior League Games
 Overall  
 Man Utd  41
 Everton  15
 Draws  18
 Premiership  
 Man Utd  9
 Everton  1
 Draws  1
 Last Season:

Man Utd 2-1 Everton 



Premiership Scores
Friday 26 Dec
Arsenal 3-0 Wolves
Fulham 2-0 Southampton
Charlton 4-2 Chelsea
Portsmouth 2-0 Tottenham
Birmingham 2-1 Man City
Blackburn 2-2 Middlesbro'
Leeds Utd 0-0 Aston Villa
Leicester 1-1 Newcastle
Liverpool 3-1 Bolton
Man United 2-1 Everton
 


Match Facts
 Manchester United  (4-4-2)
 Red shirts, white shorts, black socks
Everton   (4-4-2)
 Blue shirts, blue shorts, blue socks
  Howard
Silvestre (72' Djemba-Djemba)
O' Shea (50' Scholes)
Ferdinand
G. Neville
Bellion
Kleberson
Butt
Fortune
Forlan
Ronaldo

Subs not used:  
Van Nistlerooy, Giggs, Carrol

Yellow Cards: 

Red Cards:
Martyn
Hibbert
Naysmith
Stubbs
Unsworth
Rooney (69' McFadden)
Li Tie
Linderoth (62' Jeffers)
Gravesen
Kilbane
Campbell (62' Ferguson)

Subs not used: 
Simonsen, Yobo

Yellow Cards: Rooney, Jeffers

Red Cards:


Unavailable:

(On Loan:) Chadwick 
(Injured:) Carsley, Pistone, Radzinski, Watson, Weir, Wright
 
Match Reports

2003-04 Match Reports Index


Everton Web Sites
ToffeeWeb Match Summary
EvertonFC.com Match Report
When Skies Are Grey Match Report
Blue Kipper Match Report
Everton Fans' Reports
Steve Milne Match Report
Links to Other Media Reports
Electronic Telegraph Match Report
BBC Sport Match Report
4 the Game Match Report
Sky Sports Match Report
Sporting Life Match Report
SoccerNet Match Report
The Sunday Times Match Report
The Observer Match Report
The Guardian Match Report
The Independent Match Report
The Times Match Report
Liverpool Echo Match Report
Daily Post Match Report
Team Pld Pts
Man Utd 18 43
Arsenal 18 42
Chelsea 18 39
Fulham 18 28
Charlton 18 27
Newcastle 18 26
Southampton 18 26
Birmingham 17 26
Liverpool 17 25
Bolton 18 22
Middlesbrough 17 21
Aston Villa 18 21
Man City 18 20
Everton 18 20
Portsmouth 18 19
Blackburn 18 18
Tottenham 18 18
Leicester 18 17
Leeds 18 17
Wolves 17 11

After Fri 26 Dec

Full table


Match Preview

This is without a doubt our most dreaded fixture on the calendar. Based on results between these two sides at Old Trafford over the past decade, Evertonians can more or less write this fixture off as another hard lesson in the gap between the "haves" and the "have nots" in the Premiership.

The Blues have won just once on United's home turf since the inception of the Premier League, a 3-0 victory back in 1992-93 when Mo Johnston was on the scoresheet for Everton. Since then, a solitary 2-2 draw in 1996-97 is the only other point we have earned there and we have conceded 18 goals in the past six encounters at Old Trafford.

While that is a pretty depressing record, it does mean that every trip down the M62 to Manchester United offers up the opportunity for a victory so surprising and so glorious that you actually end up looking forward to it. It's the chance to see if your team can put one over the best club side in England over the past ten years.

Last season, we had a pretty good crack at Sir Alex's spoiled army and although the 3-0 reverse looks bad on paper, it doesn't do justice to the way Everton played that day or the fact that Wayne Rooney was one decent finish away from earning an unlikely victory or, you would have thought, at least a draw. Sadly, United scored their customary glut of goals at the end of the game and ran out easy winners.

If truth be told, we have gone into this fixture better placed and better equipped to cause an upset before than we do on Boxing Day this year. However, David Moyes's side are in far better shape this week than they were a month ago and this is as good a time to play the Champions as any since the beginning of the season, coming as we are off the back of two successive wins, albeit against two sides currently lying in the bottom four.

The good news is that Roy Keane will be missing through injury for the Red Devils, and while Rio Ferdinand plays, let us hope his mind is on his eight-match ban. Cristiano Ronaldo, United's theatrical diver extraordinaire is also expected to be in the starting line up.

For the Blues, Tony Hibbert is likely to start in place of the injured Alessandro Pistone at right back, but Joseph Yobo's neck continues to keep him out of contention and David Weir is not match fit — although it's unlikely he would have displaced the in-form David Unswowrth anyway.

The big question, and one to which we already know the answer, surrounds Rooney and whether Moyes will start with him on the bench again. The smart money will be yes for the simple reason that the manager has reverted to the successful formula of last season: using The Boy has a super sub in the second half.

Look for Kevin Campbell to partner Tomasz Radzinski up front, with Steve Watson in right midfield if he is passed fit. Ferguson, Weir and McFadden will join Rooney as the out-field players on the bench.

If we can nick a draw from this one we should count that as a terrific afternoon's work because we're working not only against the talent that Ferguson has at his disposal at Old Trafford and the traditional home bias that afflicts the referees, but also our own psychological enemy that will be mindful of past results.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Stats

This will be the 167th meeting between Everton and Manchester United in all compeitions, and the 84th at Old Trafford. It is also the 23rd meeting in the Premiership and the 12th at Old Trafford.

Everton's full record against Manchester United is:

 

  P W D L F A
Premier League 22 2 2 18 15 47
'Old' Division One 126 49 33 44 204 178
FA Cup 9 5 0 4 8 6
League Cup 3 2 0 1 5 3
Charity Shield 2 2 0 0 6 0
Fairs Cup 2 0 1 1 2 3
Screen Sport Super Cup 2 2 0 0 5 2
TOTALS 166 62 36 68 245 239

Our record at Old Trafford is slightly one-sided in favour of the Manchester team:

  P W D L F A
Premier League 11 1 1 9 8 25
'Old' Division One 63 14 17 32 64 107
FA Cup 5 1 0 4 1 4
League Cup 2 2 0 0 5 1
Fairs Cup 1 0 1 0 1 1
Screen Sport Super Cup 1 1 0 0 4 2
TOTALS 83 19 19 45 83 140

The last match between the two sides was on 11 May 2003 when Everton lost out on Europe due to a 2-1 victory to United. Kevin Campbells' goal in that match was his 50th goal for Everton in all compeititons.

United are currently enjoying a 16 game unbeaten run against Everton with the last defeat being the 1995 F.A. Cup Final, when a Paul Rideout header gave Everton the trophy. Incidentally, Everton's last league win against United was the league game at Goodison Park three months earlier when Duncan Ferguson headed Everton to another 1-0 victory. Everton's last victory at Old Trafford was the very first Premier League meeting between the two sides on 19 August 1992, when goals from Peter Beardsley, Mo Johnston and Robert Warzycha gave us a 3-0 victory.

Since that victory, United have won 9 of the ten matches at Old Trafford, with Everton getting their only point at Old Trafford at the start of the 1996-97 season.

Everton's biggest victory was a 6-0 win at Goodison Park in the very first meeting between the sides in 1892. The biggest victory at Old Trafford is shared between the 3-0 win in the Premier League (above), the 3-0 win at Old Trafford in the League Cup run of 1976-77, another 3-0 win in 1894 and a 5-32 victory in the 1957-58 season.

Everton's biggest defeat against Manchester United was a 5-0 reversal at Old Trafford in April 1960.

The most common margin of victory at Old Trafford is 2-1, whilst united's most common victory is also 2-1! The most common drawing score is shared between 0-0 and 1-1.
Everton's record for Boxing Day is slightly better:

Everton and United have met 5 times on Boxing Day. The first meeting was in 1913 and saw Everton win 5-0. The teams then had to wait 66 years until they met on Boxing Day again in 1977, when United won 6-2 at Goodison Park and ended Everton's best ever start to a season (19 games unbeaten) - which was also, coincidentally, my first ever Everton game!!. Everton then won the next meeting which was again at Goodison Park in 1985, 3-1. 1997 saw the first, and until today the only, Boxing Day fixture between the sides at Old Trafford with United winning 2-0, which was the same score as the 2001 fixture at Goodison Park. The last fixture played on this day was a 1-1 draw at Birmingham City last season.

Milestone's that can be reached in this game:

  • If David Weir starts, it will be his 150th start for Everton in the Premier League.
  • If Tony Hibbert plays any part in the match, it will be his 50th league appearance for Everton.
  • If Wayne Rooney scores a hat-trick before the end of the season, he will be beat William Dean's record of the youngest ever Everton player to score three goals in a match.
  • If Everton score 2 or more goals, the second goal will be the 100th goal scored since David Moyes took charge of the club.

    Steve Flanagan

     

 



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