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Manchester United 1 - 0 Everton

Half-time: 0 - 0

Everton Logo
FA Carling Premiership 2000-01 – Game #25
3pm Saturday 3 February 2001
Old Trafford, Manchester
Att: 67,528
« Middlesbrough (h) Ref: Jeff Winter Leeds United (h) »
[ Matchday Calendar ] League Position: 15th [ Results &  Table ]
The Dream Team? Paul Gerrard was back in goal after Tommy Myhre was roundly booed by so many Evertonians as he got the blame for Boro's goals last weekend.  Xavier was out and Duncan is "rested" with a "slight groin strain"... but Idan Tal starts.  So much for the Dream Team of Campbell and Ferguson up-front...

Surprisingly, Everton set the pace for much of the first half, creating a number of chances and pressing the red horde back into their half of the field.  Then Jeff Winter booked Gravesen for a perfectly good tackle on Beckham in which the Dane won the ball fair and square.  That set the scene for an exhibition of utterly dire refereeing but Everton went in at half-time still in the match...

The second half was also going Everton's way until Cole scored off a wicked deflection that hit Watson and looped over Gerrard.  Apart from that fluke, Gerrard didn't have a save to make.  But Everton kept pressing, ruing the numerous chances they missed in the first half, as United did just enough to keep them at bay.  

A battling, spirited performance by Everton.  Walter Smith was "slightly aggrieved" at playing well and not getting anything out of the game.



Manchester United: S Watson (og:52')
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used 
Manchester United: Barthez; P Neville, Brown, Stam, Irwin; Beckham (73' Wallwork), Scholes (46' Giggs), Silvestre, Chadwick (83' Sheringham); Cole, Yorke.  Van Der Gouw, Solskjaer.
EVERTON: Gerrard; S Watson, Gough, Weir, Ball, Naysmith (75' Unsworth); Tal (85' Jevons), Gravesen, Gemmill; Moore (78' Cadamarteri), Campbell.
Unavailable: Alexandersson, Cleland, Degn, Gascoigne, Hughes, Jeffers, Nyarko, Pembridge, Pistone
, Xavier (injured); Ferguson (rested).
Simonsen, Clarke.
   Playing Strips  Formations
Manchester United: Red shirts; white shorts; black socks. 4-4-2
EVERTON: Royal Blue shirts; blue shorts; blue socks. 3-5-2
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
Manchester United: P Neville (31')
EVERTON: Gravesen (34'), Gemmill (60')
 Sports.Com Detailed Match Stats and Full Match Commentary  


Mickey Blue Eyes Rorke's Drift
Various Evertonians Getting better
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH United glad to meet the price of Cole
by Clive White
THE SUNDAY TIMES Cole punishes plucky Everton
by Ian Hawkey
THE TIMES United's sleepy giants will open eyes for Europe
by Oliver Kay
THE INDEPENDENT Link to Match Reports
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EVERTON FC SITE Link to Official Match Report

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 News from Rorke's Drift: Thin Blue Line almost held
Mickey Blue Eyes
Most of us dozed off during history lessons particularly when it got to the map of the old British Empire.  Those old enough may remember that was when a huge portion of the atlas was covered in pink and we were told it belonged to us.  Of course, none but the most wide-eyed could believe this tiny island off the coast of Europe had the wherewithal...  

So, to spice it up, we were force fed stories of astonishing military bravery in the face of appalling odds.  We were also told someone had to educate savage Johnny Foreigner, whether they liked it or not.   It was in their best interests, you see.  

You get the same kind of logic from a burglar who gets caught in the act, as eventually was the British Empire.  One of the stories we were told involved the battle of Rorke's Drift.  It was indeed a truly riveting story of incredible heroism, later filmed with reasonable accuracy in a movie called "Zulu" starring Michael Caine (his first major role) and Stanley Baker.  

The battle was fought by 350 men of the invading British Army.  They were heavily recruited from industrial Wales.  Surrounding them were 4,000 Zulus, a wing of the successful Zulu Army of 24,400 who had shortly before wiped out a British column of 1,800 at Isandhlwana.  Of course, we were never told about Isandhlwana; only Rorke's Drift.  Not surprising really, since the former is the only recorded military action in which a native army armed mostly with assegai and cowhide shields defeated an opponent armed with Martini-Henrys and Gatling guns.  There was great bravery on both sides but our teachers never told us this.  The victors almost always write the prevailing history.

We were told in spades about Rorke's Drift because the heroic 350 eventually beat off the Zulu attack against all the odds.  Zulu casualties were truly dreadful.  Try blindfolding yourself and walking out into the traffic in Lime Street at mid-day and you get an idea why...

So, on Saturday, we got into our ox-wagon and set off for Rorke's Drift.  We were the Thin Blue Line.  Only this time, the Zulus wore redcoats.  Your mouth went dry at the prospect.  But by god! we were going to go down fighting, whatever happened.  

In the ox-wagon we assembled and dissembled our Martini-Henrys to ensure rapid firing.  We checked our ammunition which had let us down so badly at Isandhlwana/Goodison Park earlier in the season.  We oiled every part.  And then we pulled into the watering hole known as the Nag's Head in the desert known as Davyhulme.  The natives were friendly and accommodating and helped us to part painlessly with a large portion of our saved shilling-a-day.  In exchange, we were provided with large quantities of anaesthetic, not unlike the gin the infantry was given before every major battle.  It helped a lot.  It usually does on occasions like this.

We discussed the oncoming battle.  I was reminded of a scene in the film where the two officers at Rorke's Drift neither of whom had seen action before discuss the Zulu battle strategy with a Boer tracker.  After he has finished, one of the officers says, "I say, that's jolly clever!" and the Boer summons all his remaining world weariness to say, "Oh it's jolly DEADLY, old boy."  We knew where it was coming from and who was going to be responsible.  Doing something about it was quite another matter.

As we neared Rorke's Drift, my historical compass began to spin.  The place looked like an isolated Coliseum.  Getting near it, and then into it, was similar to going through Check-Point Charlie and into East Berlin.  I made this observation to one of the local natives who promptly made a face like a smacked arse in response.  Most of the local natives were carrying bulging little red water skins with strange markings and spoke in a bewildering variety of tongues.

Our scouts reported that Rorke's Drift is still partly complete.  Two upper level tiers have not yet turned the corner.  Still room for snipers up there.  There is still no tier above the invading army section.

The Thin Blue Line took its position and immediately challenged the overwhelming numbers of Zulus with tribal chants of their own.  In the real thing, the Welsh soldiers actually sang battle hymns, but we have genuine difficulties with proper English, like, never mind Gaelic-with-a-throat-complaint.  The Zulus were strangely muted for the battle and made mostly muttering noises.  The Thin Blue Line made huge amounts of noise without resorting to our Martini-Henrys.

Our order of battle was depleted again, by god!  But we had a final defence line of Watson-Weir-Gough-Ball and Naysmith, backed up by Gerrard who had been hauled out of the field hospital when appropriately named Tommy fell, perhaps even dropped, in an earlier battle.  Our first line of defence dug in as Moore-Gemmill-Gravesen-Tal.  Our only attacking option was the enormously brave solo outpost of SuperKev.  Everyone had orders to use their initiative during the battle.  Everyone carried out their orders to the absolute letter.  It was indeed a sight to stir your blood to the last corpuscle.  By god! we showed Johnny Foreigner what we are made of!

The Zulu impi was short only on their left wing and in the centre.  Giggs was on the bench and Keane was cleaning the latrines.  Beckham moved to the centre of the battle.  Strange, but from the first shots we had the field by the goolies.  Precisely where we expected to have most casualties was precisely where we were winning the battle.  The loss of Keane was a major factor in holding the Zulu impi.  But every military manual tells you to fight with what you have or retreat.  The Zulu retreated and then kept retreating, a couple of Beckham free kicks apart... one of which zoomed past Paul's left stick like a bent howitzer shell.

The initial skirmishes ended and we began to create our own impudent raids.  Gradually at first, and then they became a flood.  We made pincer movements, flanking movements, overlapping movements, dug in hand-to-hand.  We had casualties but heroically plugged the gaps and incredibly kept going forward.  First military lesson: don't slow down under fire.  We had elan.  They had poor bloody infantry.  Men of Harlech, we heard you!  We learned your lessons well!

On the right flank, trooper Watson caused the same kind of mayhem he wrought against Boro.  Trooper Moore was the perfect foil and gave persistent murderous covering fire.  In the left centre, brave young Tal took no prisoners and left bodies sprawled everywhere.  Corporal Gravedigger, who won 't make sergeant as long as he has a hole in his arse, for once provided the kind of senior example we needed.  Trooper Gemmill made daring darting incursions which pissed off the Zulus mightily.

Early on, Tal gave the Zulus a major heart attack when he zapped Irwin and ran half the length of the field to hit the side net.  The front line of the battle was almost always in their half.  When it moved against us, The Thin Blue Line was again led by veteran Sergeant Gough, a man who should be awarded the Victoria Cross in every engagement.  There he was every time with a, "Steady you Blues, STEADY!" and a better example of close-quarters warfare you never saw.

But if Gough was good and he WAS then the absolute pillar was an awesome corporal Ball.  He might even get promoted to Captain in one straight go at this rate.  It makes a difference when you have fighters around you.

Alas, The Thin Blue Line was breached at midpoint in the battle, and just as we were pressing the issue yet again.  A quick and scrambled counter-thrust through the middle ended up with a right-side penalty-area Cole shot which hit Stevie Watson, could have gone anywhere, but which seemingly inevitably spiralled slowly upwards and dropped in.  Paul's only action of the afternoon was to pick it out of the net.

We weren't through yet though not by a long shot.  We kept going forward, even after they brought on Sheringham and Giggs presumably in an attempt to stretch play a bit and keep Stevie quiet.  SuperKev thumped a header just wide and we kept raiding left and right.  Crosses kept homing in.  It was one occasion when you truly yearned for the Big Yin's scarred forehead.  You couldn't help feeling he wouldn't have missed.

With about 10 minutes left, we brought on Danny the Road Runner in place of a heroic Joe-Max Moore and, later, young Jevons for an equally heroic Idan Tal.  We didn't miss a beat.  We kept flowing forward and could have got something out of it right to the end.  It did much to restore battered morale after the horrors of the FA Cup "campaign."

You could tell this by the overwhelming noise from the Thin Blue Line off the field of battle and the rapidly emptying Zulu section of Rorke's Drift.

It was indeed a damned near run thing.  And you can be proud, really proud, of what our schizophrenic army achieved.

Two things: there was no multi-national corporation physically present at Rorke's Drift.  And why can't Mancs SMILE?

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 Getting better
Various Evertonians
For the second week in a row, we had the pleasure of being officiated by Winter one of the Premiership's worst.  Some of his decisions were simply incredible.  As for the linesman on our side of the pitch how comes he turned his back on the ball just prior to Beckham running it out? 

We held our own we dominated at times.  The difference between the teams came in the second half with the introduction of Giggs.  His pace tore the defence apart every time he got the ball.

Best performance of the season?  I reckon it was.  If only we had a fit striker to partner Joe-Max Moore up front.  Even Gravesen had a decent game.  As for Watson and Tal absolutely outstanding! Alex Langley

I have to say that the level of commitment shown at Old Trafford was excellent, with a number of outstanding performances from individuals.  However, Keane, Gary Neville (whole) and Scholes, Giggs, and Sheringham (part) didn't play, and we still didn't manage to carve out anything but half-chances.  Mind you, our own injury problems we all know about, and Franny might have made a difference had he been fit.  

Nevertheless, Ball, Gough and Weir were excellent at the back, and the two full backs also played well.  Gemmill excelled in the middle, and Pepsi looks to be learning the position quite well (even if he still can't shoot).  Tal?  Walter Smith should NEVER start without this boy again.  End of. And throughout, the Blues' fans totally outsang 62,000 Man United fans. Well in. Phil Pellow

Read Phil's match report on the Everton Pages at  

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 United glad to meet the price of Cole 
By Clive White, Electronic Telegraph
ANDY COLE put his seal on an eventful week by scoring a fortuitous winner for the far-from-impressive champions.

On Wednesday, he had scored United's winner at Sunderland before being sent off along with home midfielder Alex Rae after an ugly confrontation. Then, early yesterday, it was announced he had signed a new four-year contract which will at least double his pay and effectively keep him at Old Trafford for the remainder of his playing days.

An how quickly he repaid United's faith, although his effort was hardly scrapbook material.

For a team who were supposed to have the title wrapped up with 13 games to go, Manchester United were thoroughly unconvincing winners here. Even Everton's most fervent suppporters must have come hoping to avoid a humiliation at best, and yet went home cursing their misfortune.

But for Cole's 52nd minute strike, the Merseysiders might have come away with a draw and a point towards their relegation cause, which would have been nothing less than they deserved.

The Champions League, it seems, cannot come soon enough for United to rekindle their enthusiasm for the game. They strolled through the first third of this game as though their superior passing alone would be enough to win them the points and when they found it necessary to be a sight more incisive they struggled to find any sort of cutting edge.

It was their 19th win in 26 Premiership starts and their least impressive by a long way, but it was enough to maintain their 15-point advantage at the head of the table and edge them a little nearer their third consecutive championship.

As for Everton, beaten at home by Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup last week, it was a performance which should restore some self-belief. Had they not shown United so much respect during the first half hour, they might have taken something more tangible from the game.

As expected, Sir Alex Ferguson chose to give Roy Keane and Gary Neville an unofficial mid-season break, while he again rotated his strikers, which meant that Teddy Sheringham was on the substitutes' bench. The more interesting team selection was that of Ferguson's old Scottish pal Walter Smith, who chose to leave out Duncan Ferguson, which was strange considering the big Scot's record against United of five goals in seven games, for Everton and Newcastle.

Despite what the Everton manager was saying publicly, he had clearly abandoned any hope of getting something from this game and had decided to keep Ferguson - who is struggling with his fitness - in reserve for the two home games this week against Leeds and Leicester. His place was taken by Idan Tal, who came on during the week to score a quite brilliantly-taken equaliser against Middlesbrough.

United spent much of the opening half hour posturing and it was left to Fabien Barthez to provide the entertainment. Played into a spot of bother following an almost arrogant back pass by David Beckham, the Frenchman beat Tal not once but twice on the edge of his penalty box before playing ball across the face of his goal.

After 25 minutes, United reorganised their midfield, Beckham moving inside and Luke Chadwick switching from left to right while Paul Scholes, United's best player, was shunted out to the left. But one could not help feeling that it was more like a kick up the backside United needed rather than a midfield rejig.

Having stood back, Everton decided to have a go at the champions and Barthez was required to make the first save of the game, after 27 minutes, at the feet of Steve Watson.

Then after Thomas Gravesen had wasted a good opportunity, the United defence stopped and appealed for an offside which never came against Gary Naysmith. Fortunately for them, Joe-Max Moore put the ball over the bar from the midfielder's cross. When the first half whistle sounded, the Everton goalkeeper Paul Gerrard had not had to make a single save and the home team had not won a single corner.

Hence it was against the run of play when United went ahead six minutes after half-time. Worse still for Everton, Gerrard would probably have prevented it had the shot from Cole, receiving from Dwight Yorke, not struck the outstretched leg of Watson and looped over him.

It was typical of Everton's luck when, at the other end, a shot by Moore - which Barthez probably would not have saved - struck Stam and veered off to safety and Kevin Campbell put a powerful header just inches over the bar.
Report © The Electronic Telegraph

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 Cole punishes plucky Everton
by Ian Hawkey, The Sunday Times
AFTER an usually untidy week, the Premiership leaders gently eased themselves back into the groove. Eliminated from the FA Cup a week ago, they responded by granting sabbaticals to deserving employees and retained their 15-point lead over the remaining mortals in the Premiership. Still, the margin of victory was slender enough for a heart-stopping moment or two close to the end. 
If points had been awarded for gumption, Everton should have shared the yield from this contest. In their defence, Richard Gough and Michael Ball restricted United's opportunities more than most, and the goal that settled matters, from Andrew Cole, made its way past Paul Gerrard only via a hapless deflection. Walter Smith's team, in the lower reaches of the table, could use a few breaks like that. 

United can play better than this and know it. "Scrappy," Sir Alex Ferguson called it, although he had decided some weeks ago that this fixture looked a timely occasion on which to rest key players. 

His scrutiny of last weekend's FA Cup thumping of Everton by Tranmere Rovers had hardly disabused him of the plan. However warm the friendship between Ferguson and Smith, leaving out Gary Neville and Keane was not an act of benevolence; nor was restricting Ryan Giggs, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to places on the substitutes' bench. United have an eye on the two European Champions League matches against Valencia within seven days which follow their trip to Stamford Bridge on Saturday. 

Coming to Manchester in the wake of a rare home defeat at Old Trafford, as United had suffered against West Ham, did Everton few favours. Sir Alex Ferguson's programme notes chose complacency as the topic of the week. "It's the last lap that counts," he said. Giving certain individuals time off soon after each new year has worked for him in the past two Premiership seasons; another old motivational tool got a good workout too. "I must keep avoiding the booby traps the media keep setting for me," he remarked. "You will find me in denial when people urge me to say Manchester United have already won the championship." 

United have, however, won the extended commitment of Cole, whose new term of employment was announced before the game. He has signed a contract until 2005, and celebrated with his second winning goal in four days. Cole, recently returned from surgery, will get his R&R when a suspension, following the midweek dismissal against Sunderland, begins. Here, he was up front with his recalled friend Dwight Yorke, while Phil Neville took Keane's place in the engine room. 

More radical was the shuffle in formation which took place after 20 flat minutes of the first half. United missed Keane, and instructions were relayed that David Beckham should move from the right flank to join Neville in the centre of midfield. A silent toast may have been raised at the FA by those who would like the England captain to play there more often. To complete the jigsaw, Luke Chadwick moved from left flank to right; it would be Chadwick, above all, who profited, with some lively turns of pace. 

A surging Beckham run from deep appeared to have justified moving him to centre-stage, for it earned United a free kick and Thomas Gravesen a booking for illegitimately stopping Beckham's charge. But the free kick was from too far out for Beckham to disturb Paul Gerrard. 

United's only threats at goal in the opening period were limited to a Cole effort, scooped over the bar, and a shot which Chadwick scuffed wide. 

Everton, reckoned Smith, created the better chances, and he had a point. His injury-list could wallpaper the Goodsion trophy-room, and added to the many absentees was the name of Duncan Ferguson, with a groin problem. Without that presence, they needed guile. A foxy little run from Idan Tal promised better than the snatched shot which finished the move. Otherwise, Joe-Max Moore ought to have at least directed one effort, from Gary Naysmith's centre, on target. Had he done so, Everton might have gone into the interval with a lead. 

Moore would see a further attempt blocked by Jaap Stam in the second half, but by that stage United had galvanised a little. Giggs took a share of the credit for that, because his introduction at the break, in place of Paul Scholes who had a sore rib, gave the home team verve and greater width. The Welshman announced his arrival with a swaying, jinking run, and Everton thanked David Weir for halting Giggs when he was 30 yards downstream. Giggs, though, did help set up the goal. His header supplied Yorke, whose deft pass gave Cole something to attack. He struck his shot hard but fortune then favoured the champions. Steve Watson reached out a foot out to check the effort, and instead deflect the ball off his heel over Gerrard. "It was disappointing to concede a goal that way," said Smith. "The goalkeeper had it covered." 

"We were a bit fortunate," agreed Ferguson. United seldom hit their higher gears and the biggest cheer greeted Sheringham's arrival 10 minutes from time, half of the applause devoted to United's man-of-the-season so far, half to the youngster he replaced, the bright and busy Chadwick. Man and boy, United remain in the driving seat. 
Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

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 United's sleepy giants will open eyes for Europe
by Oliver Kay, The Times

AS the FA Premier Leagues marketing gurus continue to struggle in their search for a sponsor that reflects the true nature of their product, they could do worse than to seek the backing of Pro-Plus. Certainly, some kind of stimulant is required if the final three months of the season are to awaken the slightest interest in the casual observer.

Mathematically, Manchester United need another 22 points to guarantee their seventh championship in nine years, but the reality is that, in the absence of any credible challenger, they will probably have it won before Easter.

Despite Sir Alex Fergusons protestations, even the players, model professionals though they may be, were merely going through the motions.

This was as listless a performance as they have produced for a long time, yet, to the exasperation of anyone who finds one-horse races a little monotonous, they still won. It would be easy to attribute their lacklustre display to the fact that even great teams have off-days, but for the first time there genuinely appeared to be an apathy about United on Saturday. Come to Old Trafford and get excited, eh? Ferguson said.

Thank heavens, then, for Europe. The resumption of their Champions League campaign in Valencia in nine days cannot come quickly enough for United.  If the Premiership is considered humdrum, Europe still possesses a charm that will have all at Old Trafford rubbing their hands in excitement.

Maybe I expected a wee bit more from them today, Richard Gough, the Everton defender, said. It was the same when I was at Rangers, where we were very similar domination-wise.

I know from then that it must be hard for the likes of David Beckham and Ryan Giggs to motivate themselves against the smaller teams, which we are at the moment.  But no motivation will be required when they play Valencia and the other big teams in Europe.  That wont be a problem.  

Any criticism of Uniteds performance must be tempered by praise of Evertons.  Walter Smiths team defended resolutely and, even in the absence of several key players, showed enough enterprise in attack to have deserved one point, if not three.

The difference between the teams was luck.  Whereas a wayward shot from Andrew Cole who has signed a new contract until 2005 deflected in off the heel of Steve Watson in the 53rd minute, Uniteds only shot on target if it can be described as such, a similar effort moments later by Joe-Max Moore dropped inches wide via Jaap Stams boot.

Thats what happens when youre down in Evertons position, Ferguson said.

Were disappointed not to have got at least a point from the game, the way it turned out, Smith, who is considering a move for Daniel Prodan, the Romania midfield player, said.  When you lose to a deflected goal like that, thats very disappointing.  Ive seen it on TV and it didnt even look like it was going in.

United could point in mitigation to the absence of Gary Neville and Roy Keane, who were both rested, to the loss of Paul Scholes with a rib injury or to a pitch that does them few favours, but Ferguson chose not to.  It was a dour performance from us, he admitted.
Report © Times Newspapers Ltd
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