The game itself was quite different from our usual trips to Old Trafford. There was passing and thinking involved on the field as opposed to plain hoofball. We had Cahill and Fellaini fit for the game and so we could name and unchanged side. With Rooney out, Berbatov and Tevez started upfront and Gary Neville (thank god we got the better of the two Nevilles) captained the side against his brother. Mark Halsey, the league's most lenient referee was the official for the game.
United shot out of the blocks and we were soon under pressure. Howard seemed ready for a busy day in goal as he made a few good saves early on. A cross/shot from Park was well kept out. Ronaldo then hit the post with a snap shot as United piled on the pressure.
The only time we looked threatening was when we attacked down the left with Pienaar and Baines playing some neat football but the crosses from Baines lacked that little something to outwit the miserly Van der Sar. Carrick among others had a shot on goal as the half wore on. Correct me if I'm wrong but he looks like his head was kept in the toaster for a little too long as it's flattened from back to front...
Just as we looked like we would go into the interval all square... tragedy hit. Arteta left a leg trailing and Carrick obliged on the edge of the area and stayed on his feet for a while before tumbling down and earning a penalty which Ronaldo cheekily placed down the middle as Howard dived to his right.
The second half started much like the first with United pushing forward in numbers. No sooner had the half got underway when Toaster-Head decided to try for another penalty (seen them given against us to be honest!) when Lescott pulled away at the last minute inside the box to reduce the impact on Carrick. Halsey waved play on as Old Trafford looked stunned.
As the half went on, we started to look tired and Ronaldo started to showboat with step-overs and make-overs but most often it ended with us blocking it and him sitting on the ground sulking. Sir Alex brought off their Neville and brought on Giggs and Moyes made his change a little later with Vic coming on for Fellaini. Pienaar was getting caught time after time and yet each time the United player was throwing his arms up as if to say ? "Who? Me???"
Then, right at the end, I felt that we were denied a penalty of our own when Lescott was hauled to the ground by Rio (a la Carragher) but no penalty given and the stupid line from Paul Walsh... he also added how Carra had made a similar challenge on Lescott in last year's Derby but that too was deemed to not be a penalty.
There was just enough time for United to threaten a few more time with Tevez, Ronaldo, Carrick and Park all having shots blocked or saved by an inspired Howard. The game ended 1-0 and I was proud of the way we played for once at United.
Howard: Had a blinder today but wish he coulda somehow have saved the penalty.
Hibbert: Was really tested by Ronaldo and park on the right side but coped pretty well i must say. Has been a revelation after coming back from injury.
Jagielka: Immense as always
Lescott: Solid as well and was denied a clear penalty in my eyes
Baines: Improving with each game but has to work on the crosses
Neville: Fought hard and thankfully wasn't booked.
Arteta: Was relatively quiet all evening except for the misguided heat seeking missile at the corner flag from the free-kick
Pienaar: Was full of beans as always and if his name was Ronaldo, woulda got lots of opposition players booked for incessant fouling.
Osman: Sadly has been the weak link in midfield... when did you last remember an attack from the right?
Fellaini: Got stuck in from the word go and was talked to a few times in the first 5 mins but settled down later and didn't get booked.
Cahill: Ran his socks off and I hope he gets some rest so he can be glorious for us again on Wednesday when we can move into the 5th round of the FA Cup.
To me the lads were great but they have to be getting tired of so many games against such good opposition in such a short span of time. Can we pull off a miracle transfer for some striker/midfielder in the next few hours??? I sometimes wonder whether its better to not have commentary for a game since they talk such rubbish anyways... Anwards and upwards... let's give them a real rollicking on Wednesday.
ps: Loved that Villa (hence Wigan too), Arsenal (same for West Ham) all drew.
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1 Posted 31/01/2009 at 21:26:21
2 Posted 31/01/2009 at 21:45:05
We now need to get back on the winning trail against the so called ?lesser? clubs and do some catching up ourselves!
3 Posted 01/02/2009 at 00:22:34
4 Posted 01/02/2009 at 00:52:33
I think we can move on from today’s game. 1-0 to the champions elect (and a penalty) is acceptable. It prob was a pen against Lescott, but in all honesty 1-0 flattered us today.
Next 7 league games all eminently winnable, then it’s the jammiest bastards in the known universe (Villa) then Chelski, then finishing with 5 more eminently winnable games.
With nothing to lose and everything to gain, we gotta push on now. With such an incredible defensive foundation, we have the platform to open up more on the offensive.
11 points is a big ask to catch Villa up. Had we beaten the bastards as we deserved then it would only be 5 (or 3 had we held out against Arsenal...aaargh!). Villa have to play Chelsea, Utd & RS, as well as us. So it’s not over unless we cave in prematurely.
Could be most exciting end to a season for sometime. Probably get a good price on double of 4th place & FA Cup winners :-)
5 Posted 01/02/2009 at 02:10:03
6 Posted 01/02/2009 at 02:32:41
7 Posted 01/02/2009 at 02:10:15
It?s a sad fact of life that we are, as the old saying goes, ?no better than we should be? and our results against the teams above us and the manner of them, put us 6th behind Villa - should have won.... CFC and AFC - could have won....RS?s - may yet win...MUFC - dream on. There is a good chance that the Prem will finish in just that order.
Osman; much is written on what he isn?t and what he doesn?t do. He is one of the reasons that Hibbo is looking half decent, he does what Moyes likes, he fulfills the defensive side of the RMF?s duties, he covers and protects that critical space in front of the fullback and lines up with Hibbo like they are joined with an short rope, they shepherd the winger, they seem to almost orbit around each other like two orbitty things, left right, front back, we may as well start calling them zig and zag. Although the more unkind amongst you might call them tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee (or is that dum and dummer).
8 Posted 01/02/2009 at 02:46:32
You’re right about Ossie’s defensive covering, however consider that in light of his ostensible role - as a right-sided attacking midfielder, and that we look most vulnerable to attack down that side, often as he loses possession/fails to win the ball and is left behind.
He was nothing short of terrible today and looked off the pace from the beginning. I heard that he may be carrying a groin injury - if that’s true then all the more reason to replace him.
9 Posted 01/02/2009 at 03:20:57
And Fellaini just seems too tall, now don’t laugh, it’s just that whenever he gets the ball played to his feet and should be doing something with it it’s like he can’t see it all the way down there. Maybe he just needs glasses.
10 Posted 01/02/2009 at 04:12:10
11 Posted 01/02/2009 at 04:10:29
Utd had better players... ?nuff said!!
I do agree that perhaps Gosling could have been tried in the last 15 minutes, we had nothing to lose. No bookings is a big plus for us, we cannot do with suspensions at this stage of the season. 6th place has still got to be earned ? it is not nailed on as some people think.
12 Posted 01/02/2009 at 07:35:16
Hibbert was easily my MoM. He had the world’s best players running at him all day, and he came unscathed. His crossing was also better than Baines’ today. Great show, lad. More of the same, please.
13 Posted 01/02/2009 at 08:58:14
Thanks for the posts. I thought it was sad today. United were terrific for much of the match and the defending of ours equally superb. Howard was a titan in goal. and Hibbert magnifico, as was Baines in first half. Some of those crosses he put in! And yet it was a stupid trip that gave the game away... we might have held on for a draw ? though remember, if not one-up, United would have pulled out all the stops for the second half.
Midfield and attack where we barely existed were weak compared to the Reds and bravery and spirit are not enough by themselves. Pienaar was terrific too, he is truly world class potentially, but without money Mosyie is stuck with somewhat mediocre players in other positions unless Baxter or one of the youngsters can come through a la Rooney.
But though we fight bravely and even sometimes with skill are we ever ever going to win anything? Hence the sadness, what a long long way 1992 when we beat the Man Utd 3 - 0!!!
14 Posted 01/02/2009 at 09:31:49
I?m glad you drew attention to the amount of fouls against Pienaar.
What struck me ? even impressed me ? was Man U?s determination to strangle any danger at birth, they do this very cleverly, commit seeemingly minor fouls whenever the opposition find themselves in remotely promising situations. No wonder they have the record for least goals conceded, when they employ this tactic, it's really difficult to make any progress against them.
It appeared that Pienaar was earmarked for "the treatment". It would be very surprsed if the number of fouls on him alone didn't run into double figures. You're 100% correct Santosh and if these fouls had been commited at another ground, I?m sure we?d have seen 2-3 bookings.
That said, we didn't do enough for a point and Moyes?s observations concerning our energy levels were worrying... to say the least!
15 Posted 01/02/2009 at 13:16:27
16 Posted 01/02/2009 at 15:10:26
I agree that we are all entitled to our opinion in here on TW but what you said was just plain rude and nothing else. I write only about games that I watch either on TV here in India or via streaming on the internet. I expect differences of opinion about what I?ve written coz that's what we do at TW.
I have been an Evertonian for more than 20 years now and don't need to prove myself to anyone, especially not a twit like you. From the comments that I get from my articles, thankfully not many others feel that I'm giving a secondhand account of the game. If you are hell-bent on being unreasonable, there is always another club across Stanley park where you will fit right in!
17 Posted 01/02/2009 at 15:25:04
18 Posted 01/02/2009 at 16:10:01
Oh for Moyes to have the funds to put the icing on the cake of the strong core of team players he has moulded. We are now starting to genuinely compete against the ?sky 4?... can we find the bit more needed to really push on?
Great report Santosh, spot on in my view. It is great that you are a passionate and dedicated blue as most, even staying up all hours to follow the cream of Merseyside from across multiple time zones in India! Here?s hoping you and your wife are dancing round the room in delight, waking your neighbours up at ?stupid o?clock? on Weds night/Thurs morning!! COYB!
19 Posted 01/02/2009 at 16:22:53
October if I believe. I should know.
I was there!
Unfortunately those barmy days are long behind us, and our recent record against Manchester United is nothing short of abysmal. I heard the win ratio against them in the last 30 or so games and It hurt my ears. They were not always Champions of Europe.
20 Posted 01/02/2009 at 16:40:33
Oh Yes, Oct 1984 (I meant season 84/85) on route to storming to title with record points total and record goals scored...Oh for such amazing heady days....
21 Posted 01/02/2009 at 18:22:35
Oh and I?d just ignore John Edwards, whoever he is (first poster). He won?t be making stupid comments like that anymore. He?s probably one of these hold-outs who believes Evertonians that watch the entire game on TV in foreign parts should not comment or have an opinion on the game. They can?t seem to accept that, in this day and age, the vast majority of Evertonians in the world who are watching the game *live* are doing so via television, and they far outnumber the Evertonians actually at the game ? especially for away games like this one!
[I?d include the internet as well but the quality of yer average streaming is so poor, I?d question whether you do get a decent view of the game that way...]
22 Posted 02/02/2009 at 00:42:00
23 Posted 02/02/2009 at 02:02:39
It would appear to me that if you left them alone it wouldn?t be a problem for you!
Anyway, now that I?ve actually seen a match (on the tele) whilst the lads are playing so well I must admit I was impressed. Very impressed. Tired lads yes, lads in desperate need for an additional (good) player or two to add to the squad... not to mention the return of our strikers. I was very impressed with our defense... a stupid PK (stupid Arteta!!) was the difference between us and clearly the best team in the league (& Europe, the world!!). Baines and Pienaar played extremely well together, I had to rub my eyes a few times to make sure I was watching Everton players make passes like that!
Howard pulled off some amazing saves, Hibbert was much better than I expected. Clearly the weak link is Osman. Based on what I saw today, not that Fellaini had a good game but he?s clearly for the future anyway, but Osman is the one who needs to be replaced.
And, as mentioned above by some, Gosling and Rodwell need time on the field. If Gosling for example had played 10 to 15 minutes yesterday it would have helped him to be prepared for the game on Wednesday. This is what I don?t like about Moyes, the players are there... use them! The 11 he used were knackered, give them a break and give the younger lads time to settle in!
Overall though I was impressed... no shame in that defeat at all... although 0-0 would have been better, or even 3-0 to us! One day... hopefully before I?m six feet under!!
24 Posted 02/02/2009 at 04:21:32
25 Posted 02/02/2009 at 05:09:59
I like the "verbal pause" but would have said, "don?t deserve a full stop... but are too disparate for a comma." You can also put it the end of a paragraph for a thought that?s kind of trailing off...
26 Posted 03/02/2009 at 16:17:24
27 Posted 03/02/2009 at 19:44:35
Fair assessment of the game, no matter whether you saw it from the away end, the pub round the corner, Australia or India ? you watched the game and said what you saw. Your love of the blues comes across in your posts ? keep talking sense and John Edwards will give up.
I saw the game from the North stand as my daughter blagged 2 season tickets from her boss. It was a surreal experience and was like a couple of hours in a conservative club surrounded by middle class ladies of a certain age. The only time I heard anyone swear (other than us) was when Brown went right through the back of one of our players in the corner by the stretford end right in front of the linesman.
I gets up frustrated and has a bit of a rant at the same linesman who was flagging like crazy for "fouls" on Ronaldo because Baines was daring to get within a yard of him before he leapt to the floor. I am sticking out like a sore thumb and a bloke behind bravely says "Sit down you fat scouse bastard" ? I wheel round and am not really in the mood for niceties so he gets "Fuck Off, Manc". Yeah I know all a bit juvenile but there was an audible intake of breath all around us. We could hear the players swear but not Maggies stormtroopers by us.
The handbags between Vic and Brown was right in front of us and Brown was trying to prove he was rough and tough and Vic retaliated. Of course their crowd only want to see Vic doing wrong and, bearing in mind they had only been given 1 measly penalty all game, they wanted to see a red card. I thought they were like posh Romans at the Coliseum. Halsey thankfully applied common sense and not many refs use it, do they?
Overall I thought we played decently and tried to play football without hoofball at all. But for me, Utd were right up for the game especially centre midfield where they bossed the game from. Yes, I would agree that Arteta, Fellaini and Osman were all below par especially Leon Osman who was poor.
We lacked pace out wide and up front; against a defence as good as theirs it needs a cutting edge and we didn?t have it.
Some substitutions could have helped and they were too late to help us as some of our players were either knackered or poor on the day. It is a common criticism of David Moyes; he doesn?t use subs well enough for me.
Similar all round to last season really ? a decent effort but not good enough to hurt them ? unlike at Goodison when we had a right go at them.
Our support was fantastic throughout too.
Bring it on Wednesday ? massive game. Can?t believe someone has suggested that Bolton is more important !!! What?