The Premier League couldn't have planned better timing of this match-up
as Manchester United look poised to sign Wayne Rooney before the transfer
deadline on Tuesday. It's the story that has Blues fans divided and open recriminations,
accusations and innuendo muddying the waters considerably.
It's a situation that will add unusual spice to a fixture that has become
a ritual of defeat for Everton since the inception of the Premier League.
While the players managed to put the Rooney saga out of their minds with
victory over West Bromwich Albion, the press will no doubt be dwelling
on the off-the-field controversy of the moment.
Everton's record against United over the past 11 years is nothing short
of embarrassing but, while Walter Smith always seemed to go into this fixture
intent on defending for a draw, under David Moyes the Blues have at least
had a go in recent games.
And as we prepare for this Bank Holiday match-up, Moyes is leading the rallying
cry for his players to take the game to United — which the Blues did in
both fixtures against the Red Devils last season (albeit belatedly
at Goodison), losing 3-2 and 4-3.
With 60-odd thousand (and usually the referee as well) behind them, there
really is no other way to approach the former Champions than to just go
at them early and hope to score a couple of first-half goals.
Everton have Gary Naysmith back in contention following his one-match
suspension but left back really is Hobson's choice right now, with the
Scot appalling in his first two outings this season and Alessandro Pistone
having turned in a truly awful display against WBA.
Up front, Moyes is likely to stick with Campbell and Bent but
the most attention will be directed at Tim Cahill who could be in line
for his debut having returned from the Olympics in Athens and finished a three-match
suspension carried over from Milwall in the process.
There is no getting away from the fact that this is going to be another
very difficult game. Without belittling Everton's two well-deserved wins
so far this season, there is a large gulf in quality between the two teams.
United, however, have not made the best of starts to the campaign; if the Blues can get amongst them early and restrict their hosts' flowing
passing game, they have the chance to pick up a point. That would be almost
as big a victory as earning three points!
This will be the 169th meeting between Everton and Manchester United
in all competitions, and the 85th at Old Trafford. It is also the
25th meeting in the Premiership and the 13th at Old Trafford.
Everton's full record against Manchester United is:
|'Old' Division One
|Screen Sport Super Cup
Our record at Old Trafford is slightly one-sided in favour of the
|'Old' Division One
|Screen Sport Super Cup
The last match between the two sides was on 7 Feb 2004 when Everton
came back from the dead to tie the game 3-3 only for United to
grab a last-minute winner.
United are currently enjoying an 18-game unbeaten run against Everton
with the last defeat being the 1995 FA 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 10 of the 11 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.
Depleted Blues make heroic
If Everton's players could be accused of lacking the stomach for
the fight last season amid rumours of squad disharmony, this performance
went a long way to asserting that Moyes is working his motivational
magic again. His side put up a determined rearguard action to frustrate
a below-par Manchester United and earn their first point at Old
Trafford since 1996-97.
The odds on Moyes's side getting anything from this game were stacked
against them at kick-off based on their previous record against
United and the news that both Thomas Gravesen and Joseph Yobo were
ruled out through injury. The loss of those two key players might
have forced the manager's departure from his weekend pledge to go
out to win as he selected a 4-5-1 formation that managed just one
shot on target in 90 minutes.
It's disappointing that a club of our stature has to come to the
home of any team and set their stall out to defend but it underlines
the reality under which Everton now exist and it would be churlish
to dwell on the negatives of what was a terrific defensive stand.
And it shouldn't be ignored that, for the first half an hour, Everton
carried the greater attacking intent even if their hosts carried
the greater threat. Kevin Kilbane had the first chances of the game
when he headed over the bar in the fourth minute and then gave United
a heart-stopping moment as he chased a through-ball, drew Tim Howard
well out his area but was foiled by the 'keeper's tackle.
The home side, who despite a typically strong line-up began
poorly, didn't have their first effort until the 13th minute
when Gary Neville curled a left-footed effort high and wide from
the right flank. A minute later, though, Leon Osman engineered a
shot of his own with the first of his afternoon's many examples
of clever footwork but his effort flew narrowly wide.
United were struggling to find their rhythm through the Blues'
packed five-man midfield which boasted Tim Cahill who made a very
impressive debut before he ran out of steam with 20 minutes to go. Apparently undeterred by the cauldron of Old Trafford with it's
baiting chants of "Rooney" and "Stand up if you hate Scousers," the Australian was enterprising alongside the industrious
Lee Carsley, strong in the tackle and a welcome aerial threat. And
he had Everton's only shot on target in the 18th minute when he
ghosted in behind the defence but was denied by Howard's save from
a tight angle.
Osman then saw another effort miss the target from outside the
area after Marcus Bent had stolen the ball off Mickael Silvestre's
toe before Tony Hibbert somehow escaped a booking with a dreadfully
late tackle on Christiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese winger lashed
the resulting free kick at Martyn who did just enough to block the
United then began to get a grip on the game but without really
threatening Martyn's goal until Pistone was skinned by Kleberson
on the right touchline. The Brazilian found Saha at the near
post with cross but the French striker made a hash of the close-range
header which dropped inches wide of the post. Kleberson tried his
own luck in first-half injury time but his effort was comfortably
Neither side made any changes at the break in terms of personnel
but Sir Alex Ferguson's side came out with renewed vigour. Within
7 minutes of the restart, Ronaldo skipped past two Everton challenges
before unleashing a left-footed drive that smacked off the post.
Moyes did make his first substitution a minute later, though, curiously
removing Bent's pace from the attack in favour of Duncan Ferguson. A minute later, though, came the first of two genuine penalty claims
for the Blues: Ferguson and Silvestre challenged for a ball just
inside the area; although it clearly struck the Frenchman's hand,
referee Gallagher waved play on.
Four minutes later, the same player jostled Ferguson to the ground
just outside the six-yard box but, again, the referee turned a blind
eye, following the now time-honoured tradition of not giving penalties
against the home side at Old Trafford.
Either side of that incident, Saha was denied by a good save by
Martyn, Kleberson came within a couple of feet of looping an own
goal past his goalkeeper and Paul Scholes whipped a shot into the
side-netting when he might have done better from the angle.
By this time, Everton's attacking threat had gone almost completely,
the focus now on keeping as many men behind the ball as possible. So it wasn't all that surprising to see defender Gary Naysmith replace
Cahill in the 70th minute, albeit in a roving role on the
left side of midfield.
While the Reds were getting closer and closer, however, they couldn't
make the breakthrough; Alan Smith advanced and crashed a shot off
the far post to which Martyn may have got a crucial finger-tip,
and the former Leeds man glanced a Ryan Giggs chip narrowly wide
not long afterwards.
With five minutes left, Everton nearly put through their own net
when Stubbs looped a header that Martyn did well to tip behind for
a corner and United had the last real attempt at breaking the deadlock
with three minutes left when Scholes's shot also found the woodwork
to preserve a valuable point for Moyes's valiant men.
- Martyn 8 - Made some crucial stops but time and
time again his kicks from goal ended up with possession turning
over to the home side, though this was due more to the lack of attacking
support from midfield.
- Hibbert 8 - It spoke volumes that Ronaldo switched
flanks after about half an hour of frustrated toil against the young
- Stubbs 7 - A solid display
- Weir 8 - Played most of the game with his head
bound in bandages after suffering a cut to his eyebrow but remained
- Pistone 5 - Easily the weakest link on the day,
perpetuating both his dismal start to the season and Everton's problems
at left back
- Osman 8 - Another star turn by the diminutive
midfielder who at times tormented Silvestre and Proctor down the
right flank with some tight control and determined running that
was let down only by the final ball.
- Watson 6 - Committed enough but looked conspicuously
off the pace. Is the speed of the Premiership proving too much for
him in his dotage?
- Carsley 7 - A real dog of war performance that
was short on style but long on industry.
- Cahill 7 - Looks to be a good signing based on
this display. Linked well between midfield and defence; it will
be interesting to see him and Gravesen playing alongside each other.
- Kilbane 7 - Carried much of our attacking threat,
particularly during the first half
- Bent 6 - Ploughed a lonely furrow up front and
struggled to make much headway due to being out-numbered. It was
surprising to see Moyes remove him so early in the second half.
- Ferguson 6 - Without having either the speed or
work-rate of Bent, he was largely ineffective except when the ball
was in the air and was unfortunate not to have one of two penalty
decisions go against him.
- Naysmith 6 - Came on to bolster the defence and
help preserve a point.
The short coach journey up the motorway was quite a sombre one
as me and Gary recollected what has been and what could have been
with the Wayne Rooney affair. My actual belief was that we had a
chance of winning this one beforehand. Particularly so with Keane,
van Nistelroy and Ferdinand out for Man Utd and we had just had
two wins under our belt. I felt we had a chance. There was nothing
I wanted more, anyway. Just to stick two fingers up to the world
and win there as everybody has had a kick at us this summer.
We were there at about 11:00am. We asked the bizzie where the nearest pub was for a quick pint and
he said there was two different ones — but our best bet was
to go straight into the ground and get one there. So we go in and
were then told that there not selling any more beer 'til half time. Great!
So we got to our seats and thought Old Trafford looked pretty special. An excellent stadium from the outside with the facilities inside
being fairly woeful and cramped. Just as we were sitting down, somebody
told us that Yobo and Gravesen were both out but with no indication
why. This lead to all sorts of conspiracy theories that Yobo had
been sold to Newcastle — unlikely I thought with Bobby Robson
just being sacked.
And Gravesen had been sold to Villa for £3M
— again I figured it was unlikely and they were both injured
but my thoughts were more focused on the match in hand. I thought we'd have a chance of winning with those two in the team
but then figured we'd get a beating without them. My feeling was
that Scholes would rip us apart and Weir and Stubbs would get caught
out for pace at the back. Well it's great to be proved wrong!
Not long after, the teams came out. I was actually curious as to what
sound Man Utd came out to and was sickened when it was the Dandy
Warholes hit "I Like You". Nothing against the song just that it's
Vodafone's song for the advert. I cannot believe what sell-outs they
have become. Sick. Then the teams had to do that Champions League
handshake thing before they kicked off.
We started very well and were probably the better team in the first
quarter. Cahill made a fine start on his Everton debut: a good
little player. Always looking forward and always looking for the
through ball. He will play well along aside Gravesen and will be a
threat to most teams, I reckon. Everton were working it well with
five in midfield as they battled and stopped United from playing while
creating a few half-chances themselves. Bent was impressive up front
as he harried the opposition and all of the midfield did their jobs.
The best early chance was when Cahill released Kilbane. The ball
was just a bit too far ahead of him and Kilbane and Howard went
in for a 50/50 ball. Kilbane won it but unfortunately O'Shea had
got back to pick up the pieces. We had Man Utd rattled for a while
there. As the half wore on, United inevitably came into the game
more but they couldn't break us down as Stubbs and Weir were in
the way of everything at the back. Hibbert was doing well at
right back, not making it easy for Ronaldo; he got skinned a few
times but stuck to his job well.
I reckon Man Utd might have played better with a bit more atmosphere
from the Prawn Sandwich brigade. Woeful support by them but the
Evertonians truly were top notch and helped their team a lot.
Tim Cahill had a half-chance well saved by Howard before Man Utd
seized control in the last 10 minutes of the half. We let them play
for a while and were fortunate not to be behind when Saha inexplicably
headed wide from a Kleberson cross. That was a bit of luck, which
you need at Old Trafford. Everton held firm until the break and
me and Gary wondered if we could maybe, just maybe sneak a point
here as we enjoyed our half time bevi. At least I did. Gary nearly
got crushed to death queuing to get them.
The second half yielded no changes and we were absolutely fantastic
in defence. Everybody did their jobs and can be very proud. The away support to. I'm convinced we urged the players through
that and we really were the 12th man. The back line was
solid throughout and everybody in midfield was terrific. Watson,
Cahill and Carsley made a few similarities to Joe Royle's famous
Dogs of War with a, well, dogged display in the middle. Kilbane
done his job to but the real star was Leon Osman. Was never intimidated,
was never scared, was always confident, and worked very hard. We've
got a cracking little player there.
We should have had a penalty in the second half for a blatant handball,
which had substitute Dunc fuming at the ref, but you don't get these
decisions at Old Trafford. Another one springs to mind when Osman
won the ball and Everton had an opening but the ref bought play
back for the 'foul'. "You can't win" Gary said and he
wasn't wrong. Little you can do at Old Trafford.
The final quarter of the game was real backs-to-the-wall stuff
as we now decided to hold out for the point. Man Utd came at us. Saha was through once and Martyn saved well. Ronaldo skinned three
players then flashed his shot wide; the biggest scare of all
was when Smith's shot had Martyn beaten but came back off the inside
of the post.
Giggs was bought on for Ronaldo to take on the knackered
Hibbert. He didn't let us down and stuck to Giggs like glue. Brilliant
stuff from Hibbert. After that, Scholes hit a half-volley, which
was well saved by Martyn, and Stubbs nearly scored a freak own-goal
with his head but Martyn tipped it over well.
The ref found three
minutes of stoppage time from somewhere (Sir Alex Ferguson?) and
everybody defended our box with their lives. The fans, again, played
their part and were the 12th man. Kilbane half-volleyed the ball
out and the whistle went. Full time! Great stuff from the blue boys. Those five minutes at the end were superb as we sung our hearts
out. The players came over and lapped it up and we were delirious.
That's what you're giving up, Wayne Rooney.
- Martyn — Solid and was there when it mattered.
Kicking could have been better if you want to get picky. 8
- Pistone — Was usually disinterested first
half but second he stood up to the task well and didn't let Everton
- Stubbs — Great job as captain and was solid
and dependable at the back. Nearly scored an own goal but Martyn
saved it. Solid. 8
- Weir — Fantastic to see Weir back to his
best after last season. Excellent defending thought. Played most
of the game with his headband on after a nasty gash in the first
- Hibbert — Did what he had to. Was exposed
for space a few times but did his job very well. 8
- Kilbane — Was knackered at the end and his
passing got sloppy but he never stoppedworking and did his job.
- Carsely — Maybe just the sort of player
you need for this sort of game. Just get stuck in and stop them
from playing. Played well. 8
- Watson — Was great for about 75 minutes
before he lost the plot a little bit and passes started to go astray.
Good performance. 8
- Cahill — Impressive debut from the Aussie.
Always looking forward and always looking for the killer ball. Got
booked for a reckless tackle though so his reputation is still intact.
- Osman — Cracking performance from Ossie
who never stopped running and never gave their left back a minute's
peace. Looks the part. Not scared. My man of the match. 9
- Bent — Was good for a while before getting
a little bit of an injury. Was useless from then on and was replaced
early in the second half by Dunc. 7
- Ferguson (for Bent) — Didn't cover as much
ground as he should have but was isolated up front. Always a threat
though I guess. 6
- Naysmith (for Cahill) — Did what he had
to, as we needed fresh legs. Worked quite hard. 6
A magnificent result today and precisely what we needed
— more than
beating shite like Palace and West Brom, this is the one result
that will help ease the pain of Rooney’s exit (— and if we
can get James Beattie and/or Robert Earnshaw for him, we’ll
be more than alright this season).
That said, who the hell the hell were you vying for
today, Wayne Rooney?
A fantastic performance by all the lads involved, working their
socks off to earn a great result against Alex Ferguson’s team. Steve Watson, Leon Osman, David Weir and Nigel Martyn deserve special
praise; Alan Stubbs was pure determination personified and how about
that for a debut — take your hats off for Tim Cahill! His first few
touches were enough to convince me that David Moyes has once again
brought a real class act to the club, the lad was outstanding today.
With Joseph Yobo and Thomas Gravesen missing we could
be excused for fearing the worst but Cahill, Stubbs and Weir were
simply terrific today. Mind you, we should have had a clear penalty
as well! Not that I’m that bothered about it right now as
a goalless draw was well worth taking the day off for.
As opposed to last season’s fixture at this
ground, David Moyes send out a team trying to take the game to the
Mancunians. Leon Osman, Kevin Kilbane and Tim Cahill (after brilliantly
controlling Tony Hibbert’s long ball) had early sights of
goal and we were very solid at the back. Alright, Louis Saha should
have scored with a free header but you won’t get anything
away from Old Trafford without a bit of luck.
Only when our lads seemed to tire a bit, Man U were
finally able to put us under the cosh for the last 10 minutes of
the first half. Still, Nigel Martyn was never called into action,
apart from throwing his head at Alan Smith’s right boot. After
the break it was mostly Man U, also because Marcus Bent seemed unable
to continue leading the line up front on his own, a thankless task
Moyes brought on Big Dunc who was straight away involved
in the action. Unfortunately, Dermot Gallagher didn’t have
the balls to award us a penalty after a 100% handball from Michael
Silvestre and gave a free kick against Ferguson for a nothing little
From then on it was all hands to the pumps. Man U hit the
post twice and were denied by outstanding goalkeeping from Nigel
Martyn on three other occasions. We hung on for a great point
to everyone involved today!
For It’s A Grand Old Team To Play For …
A Grand Old Team To Support …
AND IF - YOU KNOW - YOUR HISTORY …
Rob van Dijk