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|Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool||Premiership||Saturday 13 August 2005; 12:45pm|
|Half Time: 0-1
|Attendance: 38,610||(Fixture 1)||Referee: Graham Poll|
Amazing how such a huge game feels somehow less than the genuine article after the emotional highs of Tuesday night... but it's back to the bread and butter of the Premiership in earnest with the Big Game against our friends from the other end of the East Lancs Road.
Despite his fine words yesterday, there is no debut for Per Krřldrup and so it's the same line-up as against Villarreal except for Osman coming in for Kilbane.
Indeed after the seemingly obligatory minute's silence, the game seemed to take a while to really get going although some danger signs were there as Scholes clipped the crossbar from a free-kick after 4 mins, and van Nistelrooij drove his shot fractionally wide on 15 mins.
But the worst moment for Evertonians was seeing Beattie walk off with some injury (groin?) after only 18 mins. Then Osman got the ball straight in his gut from Gary Neville before Bent finally came on. But a good cross from Davies was net close in by Cahill, who really should have scored but his header was straight at Van der Saar who's reaction save pushed the ball over the bar. A good ball from Bent very nearly brought a glancing header from Osman.
Everton were giving away too many free kicks outside their area but the defence was holding up until Pistone got booked for scything down Rooney, which got the crowd going. Bent's arrival had definitely had a good effect, and a corner he won saw him fir a great volley goalwards only for it to deflect onto the bar. Scholes was booked for taking out his old teammate Neville. A superb delivery in from Arteta really should have brought an Everton goal but neither Bent nor Yobo could convert.
The pace really kicked up a few minutes before the break with Everton resisting well but there were still far too many hoofed balls out of defence casing Everton to squander possession. And the deadlock was finally broken with a well -worked goal finished off with an excellent final touch by van Nistelrooij.
Yobo did himself a massive and atrocious disservice with a dreadful ball played across the goal for Rooney who scored within half a minute of the restart. What a horrible, horrible sight that was. Why do we bother? Un-fucking-believable!
Weir headed just over from a corner. Park should really have scored a third for United before Ferguson came on for Osman. An Arteta free-kick floated in to Cahill was blocked by Van der Saar. Neville went in late on Park; soft yellow card. Davies, who had been very disappointing, was replaced by Kilbane on 75 mins.
Neville had a pop from 25 yards.. just over. Cahill then came in clumsily on Rooney, who hobbled off. Smith then got his studs out on Cahill and a little heat started to appear.
Arteta stupidly lashed the ball way in frustration near the end, earning himself an utterly stupid yellow card that summed up the whole horrible day.
Everton's season kicked off in earnest on Tuesday against Villarreal but the competition that many fans feel should remain our primary focus gets underway on Saturday with the visit of one the Premiership's elite teams in the form of Manchester United.
If the Champions League third qualifying round defeat served as a wake-up call, however, David Moyes has hit the snooze button; there has been no apparent urgency on the part of the manager to resolve the highly worrying lack of pace and flair up front and, barring any highly unlikely surprises on Friday, the same players will be at his disposal for the Premier League kick off against Alex Ferguson's expensive outfit.
The return once more of Wayne Rooney will probably be merely incidental at this point; of more interest will be Gary Neville's league debut for the Blues against the team he left only last seek in a £3.5m move up the M62. And on the basis of his performance against Villarreal midweek, he will be a key player for Everton as they bid to overturn United twice in a row after going 10 years without recording a victory against them. Whether Moyes again employs a five-man midfield or resorts to the 4-4-2 formation that was so successful in the same fixture back in April, Neville will be charged with stifling his old club's midfield creativity.
Even if his manager had opted to do so, Marcus Bent was not deemed fit enough to be deployed up front with James Beattie in the CL qualifier and is unlikely to have recovered sufficiently this weekend either. That means that if, as is probable, Moyes starts with five in midfield, Beattie, who actually made a decent fist of playing the Duncan Ferguson role of penalty area totem pole, will be left to roam up front solo once more. Of course, whether he will fare even half as well in the air against a Premiership defence remains to be seen and I'd prefer it if we didn't have to find out.
With an opening day crowd and the added fuel of the grudge that exists between these two sides, this is likely to be another fast-paced physical tussle, short on flair and long on determination and commitment. Coupled with Everton's continuing lack of creativity, it doesn't make for an afternoon of attractive football; more a war of attrition that would serve the Blues better than if it were to come down to a battle of passing games.
There are less than three weeks to go until the transfer deadline but you would hope that the outcome of this game won't be important in defining Moyes's transfer strategy for the remainder of the window. The consensus among the fans appears to be that, come what may, we need at least a striker, a left back and a left-sided midfielder to enable us to wage a campaign on the domestic and European fronts. Of course, a defeat would bring those deficiencies into sharper focus and victory might make Moyes more comfortable than he should be that he has all the resources he needs. Time will, of course tell.
Now, is it just me or did the football season come around really quickly this year?!
This will be the 172nd meeting between Everton and Manchester United in all competitions, and the 84th at Goodison Park.
Everton's full record against Manchester United is:
Our record at home to United is:
The last match between the sides, and the last match in the series played at Goodison Park, was the memorable night on 20 April 2005 when a headed Duncan Ferguson goal secured a precious 1-0 victory.
There have been 4 Everton hat-tricks against United over the years with the last one being scored by Billy Dean in a 5-2 Goodison Park victory on 8 October 1927.
The most common victory for Everton is 1-0 which has happened 12 times in Everton's 63 victories. Manchester United’s most common victory over Everton is 2-1, which has happened 16 times in their 73 victories. The most common draw between the sides is 0-0, which has also happened 16 times in the 37 draws between the sides.
Everton's record for 13 August is:
This is the second time the clubs have met on this day. The previous meeting was in 1969, when Everton, who eventually won the title at the end of the season, won 2-0 at Old Trafford with the goals coming from John Hurst and Alan Ball. The last game played by Everton on this day was the 1995 Charity Shield match against Blackburn Rovers, which Everton won 1-0 thanks to a Vinny Samways goal.
Tom Simpson was born on this day in 1879 in Keyworth. Signed from Leicester Fosse in May 1903, Tom lasted only just over a year at the club. Signed as understudy to Harold Hardman, Tom made just 1 Everton appearance in January 1904.
Mickey Walsh was also born on this day in 1954 in Chorley. Signed from Blackpool in August 1978, Mickey had previously won the BBC ‘Goal of the Season’ award in 1975. Despite a fairly impressive scoring record with Blackpool, Mickey only notched 3 goals in his 26 Everton appearances, before moving to Queen’s Park Rangers in March 1979, which saw Peter Eastoe move in the opposite direction. Following his time in London, Mickey ended up with Porto and played in the 1983-84 European Cup Winners’ Cup final against Juventus coming on as a 65th minute substitute.
Milestones that can be reached in this game:
· If Duncan Ferguson comes on as a substitute, then he will set a new club record for the most number of substitute appearances for Everton in all competitions with 61. He currently holds the club record for League substitute appearances with 57.
The expectations were great. The reality turned out to be far more dispiriting and depressingly familiar as Manchester United departed Goodison Park with another comfortable victory that, coming on the heels of the defeat to Villarreal, made a mockery of Everton's Champions League pretensions... both in terms of participation in this year's group stage and qualification for next year's competition.
On the evidence of the first two performances of the new season, it's clear that Everton are still stuck in the same pattern that threatened to deprive them of that coveted fourth-placed finish just a few months ago. David Moyes may have spent the best part of Ł15M on four new players but the most urgent need — a goalscorer with pace to provide something, anything for opposition defences to really worry about — was never addressed and it has already cost the team dear in two important fixtures. In short, Everton simply aren't ready for the manager's stated ambition of breaking into the top three, which is rather unfortunate because, for much of the first half, they made United look decidedly ordinary.
When it had become abundantly clear last Christmas that the 4-1-4-1 formation simply wasn't working anymore, Moyes eventually reverted to 4-4-2 and it was that formation with which they beat United back on that wild April night to erase a decade of hurt inflicted by Alex Ferguson's men. Despite that and some of lessons of midweek, the manager opted once again for a five-man midfield.
Leon Osman, the only change from the team that started against Villarreal, was charged with trying to get forward as often as possible, but the result of Moyes's strategy was stagnation and it was the visitors who made the early running up front. Ruud van Nistlerooy had the first sight of goal when he stepped up to take a direct free kick after he himself had been hacked down by Phil Neville on the edge of the box and his effort shaved the top of Nigel Martyn's bar.
On 10 minutes, Rooney, treated to a far less hostile reception than his previous two returns to Goodison, turned to make space in the area but ended up screwing a shot across the face of goal and comfortably wide. Five minutes after that, van Nistlerooy fired barely a foot wide of the upright after good work by United's commerce signing... ahem... South Korean debutant Sun Ji Park.
With Cahill, Arteta, Davies and Neville all finding each other with quick passing and accurate distribution, the Blues were fluid in the middle third of the park but Everton lacked any kind of attacking threat in the opening 20-odd minutes. The flow of almost all their forward movement visibly stopped when it came to the final third where the man on the ball would halt and then float a hopeful ball in James Beattie's direction. Meat and drink for United's experienced defence.
So, when Beattie was forced to retire from the action after just 19 minutes because of injury, it was actually a positive turn of events for Everton's attacking prospects. Marcus Bent came on and immediately, the Blues kicked things up a gear up front to take control of the game.
First, after great running by Bent, Cahill popped up at the far post to force Edwin van der Saar into a terrific point-blank save as he palmed the ball over the bar. A couple of minutes later, Osman ghosted into the six-yard box to glance a header agonisingly wide (although he was, harshly, flagged offside) before a genuine penalty claim was denied by referee Graham Poll. As Yobo and Bent rose to meet a deep ball into the box, the crowd bayed as the ball struck Mickael Silvestre's hand but the real foul was John O'Shea who had Joseph Yobo's shirt in both fists. Needless to say, nothing was given.
At the other end, Paul Scholes tried his luck from distance but his shot was well held by Martyn. It was the home side who were carrying the greater threat at this point and Bent had Blue heart's fluttering when his deflected volley bounced off van der Saar's crossbar after Yobo had headed a Mikel Arteta corner back across the area.
Tellingly, Everton were unable to make a 15-minute spell of ascendancy count and would pay for it dearly before the half was out. Van Nistlerooy had a penalty claim turned down when his shirt was tugged as he back into a defender and Paul Scholes fired over from eight yards out when he should have done better as the visitors signalled their intent. With three minutes to go before the interval, Rooney laid a pass off to O'Shea who crossed low to Van Nistlerooy and he buried the ball past Martyn to break the deadlock. 1-0 at half time and normal Everton service seemed to have resumed against Manchester United.
Whatever plans Moyes had made at the break were shattered within a minute of the restart. After Yobo had helped mop up a United attack, the Nigerian played a square ball blind across his own area that fell behind David Weir and too far in front of Martyn leaving Rooney to side-foot a gift into the gaping goal. 2-0 and another mountain to climb.
For the team of last season with its never-say-die attitude, that would not have been game-over but today the famous spirit that carried the Blues to qualification for the Champions League was non-existent, sucked out of them no doubt by the demoralizing nature of the second goal. United strolled to victory in a desperately poor second half from Everton's perspective.
Moyes's side were positively pedestrian at times, unable to produce any moves with sufficient speed or incisiveness and consistently failing to get enough players forward. Despite looking like the away team for long periods after half-time, they did have opportunities to salvage something from the game, but almost all of them came from set pieces.
David Weir had a header that looped agonisingly onto the roof of the net after van der Saar's punched clearance, and there was a near carbon-copy far-post header by Cahill that was again parried by the Dutch goalkeeper. Phil Neville tried his luck from 25 yards with a powerful drive that flew barely a yard over and Duncan Ferguson, a 62nd-minute introduction for Leon Osman, might have done better with an effort that he tamely stabbed into the 'keeper's arms in injury time.
And, of course, United had chances to increase the Blues' misery at the other end, the best of which fell to Park who found himself one-on-one with Martyn but, as the ball dropped over his shoulder, he kicked nothing but air to the relief of the home fans. Phil Neville's brother Gary also had a last-minute opportunity to rub salt into the wounds when he popped up at the back stick following a sweeping Utd move but the angle was too narrow and his sliding shot ended up in the side-netting.
Evertonians came into the new season with enormous optimism but the failure of the manager to address a glaring shortage of players in key areas is coming home to roost with two successive defeats. The lack of an out-and-out goalscorer has left Moyes deploying as a lone striker a Ł6M player who is simply not made to play that role — a fact rammed home by the transformation in the Blues' forward momentum after Bent replaced Beattie midway through the first half.
Despite their best moments against Villarreal coming when Kilbane and Pistone combined down the left to get crosses in from the byline, Everton displayed absolutely zero width this afternoon, preferring to channel everything into dead ends that were consistently explored down the middle by Cahill, Arteta and Davies. It was blood-pressure-raisingly frustrating and represented a step backwards from the kind of free-flowing attacking that destroyed the likes of Aston Villa earlier this year.
Perhaps most annoying was the fact that this was not United at their free-flowing best — far from it. But for some slow reactions for the first goal and Yobo's moment of madness, Everton had their superior opponents fairly well contained, particularly in the first half. That United eventually strolled to victory so comfortably after their hosts had effectively given up in the second half masked the fact that on this evidence, Sir Alex Ferguson will not be adding the 2005-06 Premiership title to his extensive CV.
Sadly, we are going to see a lot more performances like this one from Everton until some significant signings are made, particularly up front, at left midfield and in both full-back positions. If we had the budget, the attacking central midfielder we didn't manage to sign would do us no end of good as well... but its wishful thinking to expect all of the problem areas in the squad to be addressed before the end of the transfer window.
The optimists will point to last season's opening-day defeat to Arsenal as evidence that today's disaster is not the end of the world... even on this evidence, it's certainly true that we're not going to be kicking around the lower reaches of the Premiership this season, particularly if Moyes can bring in some decent signings in the next two-and-a-half weeks.
But expectations for this campaign are different; the bar has been raised and the current pattern of route-one football and a frustrated, dead-end ground game currently being exhibited by the players is going to prevent the Blues making the step up to the next level.
After Tuesday night's crushing defeat, I was away in Amsterdam for a few days with my flight scheduled to arrive back at 09:20am UK time. This was of course delayed and I ended up getting back to my house at about 11.20am. Gaz arrived to head off to the game at about 11.30am.
These early kick off’s appear to send everybody into a state of confusion as to what time to set off for the game. Some will arrive mega-early and find their way into a brewery to force a few beers down at some ungodly hour. Others will leave it late. We certainly left it a bit too late; when we arrived, most of the car parks were full. When we finally parked up, we had to queue to collect our season tickets as Everton had failed to be able to deliver them prior to the fist game of the season. Yet another fine cock-up by Everton.
We got our tickets and then queued for the game. As we were on the outside we heard the roar and Z-Cars play. As we got inside, Goodison was observing a minute’s silence for the recently deceased Anthony Walker. I guess such horrible racist attacks put the game into perspective a little bit.
Everton were attacking the Park End in the first half as both teams started brightly. Everton were playing the 4-5-1 again with Beattie on his own up front. The only change from Tuesday’s game was Osman in for Kilbane. Osman appeared to have something of a free role and ghosted around the field, a lot of the time trying to feed off Beattie.
The first chance I can remember came to Man Utd with a free kick. van Nistelroy curled it inches over the bar and onto the roof of the net. That was close. Everton were knocking it about quite nicely though and getting stuck in, in what was a good performance by the Blues. An early chance came Cahill’s way that he really should have scored with. He attacked a ball to the back post with his head but could only head it straight at Man Utd debutant van der Sar.
Shortly afterwards, Beattie was withdrawn and God knows why this time. I can sense Evertonians running out of patience with Beattie and he has to start performing soon. Whatever way you look at it, I doubt we can go on playing 4-5-1 with him in the team. He has nowhere near the necessary work rate like this and needs somebody to play off him. Anyways, Bent replaced him and showed him what was required, straight away getting the ball and running at man United. He made things happen; if we are going to persist with the 4-5-1 then he has to play. Fine, he doesn’t score... but he is much more convincing in that position.
Everton had Man Utd on the back foot for some time now with bent on the pitch as the blues pushed forward well. Bent was unlucky with a volley which took a deflection and crashed off the crossbar and out for a corner.
I don’t know how it happened but Man Utd found their rhythm not long after this and started knocking it about well. There were a few warning signs before the goal. van Nistleroy placed a drive about a foot wide from 20 yards; Scholes drove a free kick into Martyn’s midriff; and Scholes also blazed over from about six yards. I think both teams had reasonable penalty shouts as well. For Everton – a handball in the box which was not given. For Man Utd – a van Nistelroy “fall”. Both would probably have been a bit harsh.
Man Utd got their goal a few minutes before half-time. Good industrious work by Rooney found O’Shea down the left. He crossed low and there was van Nistelroy to clip it home. Rooney couldn’t resist making a meal of it in front of the Everton fans as he had come under a bit of stick. 1-0 Man Utd. Same as always – they hit you at the end of half’s when other teams switch off. Half time 0-1.
No changes at half-time for either team but the second half might as well have not been played because it was over 30 seconds in. Careless, reckless, stupid play by Yobo who misplaced a pass to Weir (and why he was trying to pass to Weir anyway who was under close attention from Rooney is beyond me) instead roled it to Rooney. He simply couldn’t miss and swaned off celebrating in front of the Park End. Queue text messages from my mates who are “Man Utd” fans with the ever predictable “Rooney” text. I truly can’t believe how much Man Utd depend on one so young. That was game over. Everton weren’t getting back into this.
It wasn’t through want of trying though. They huffed and puffed but couldn’t find the target. Weir saw a looping header nestle onto the top of the net and agonisingly over after van der Sar had punched tamely from a corner. I think he should have scored. Ferguson replaced Osman.
A Phil Neville free-kick presented Cahill with a similar chance to the one he had in the first half. Again van der Sar saved easily. I think he should have scored. Kilbane replaced Davies.
Cahill connected with a header from a Hibbert cross but it flashed wide and evaded Ferguson’s outstretched boot. I think he should have scored.
Towards the end, a spectacular effort from Phil Neville on the half volley from about 30 yards was inches over the top right corner. He was unlucky not to score.
We certainly had our chances and on another day we’d have gotten something. Maybe we’d have gotten something if not for such a stupid mistake. Overall I’m not too down. We’ve played two quality teams in five days. Yes we’ve lost them both but have given them a good game. I feel that if we can play to that standard week-in, week-out then we’ll have fourth place again. We certainly would if we had a striker who could score goals.
Who’s that Irish lad who plays for Spurs?