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Everton 1 - 3 Manchester United

Half-time: 0 - 3

FA Carling Premiership 2000-01 – Game #6
3pm Saturday 16 September 2000
Goodison Park, Merseyside
Att: 38,541
« Middlesbrough (a) Ref: Dermot Gallagher Bristol Rovers (h) »
[ Matchday Calendar ] League Position: 10th [ Results & Table ]
Richard Dunne One of the big occasions of the season at Goodison Park with the visit of League Champions, Manchester United.  This year, the fixture was overshadowed by the effects of the petrol protests which impacted the attendance numbers.

The injury crisis Everton have suffered in recent weeks is finally easing with a number of players now available for selection.  Irish International Richard Dunne returned after his grossly unfair 5-match suspension, but was particularly poor.  

Mark Hughes started against his old club alongside Jeffers but they were no match for the Mancs or their linesman Jeffers getting flagged repeatedly for offside.

After 20 mins, the floodgates opened, with goals in quick succession from Butt and Giggs.  Everton tried to respond, but it was all too easy for Solskjaer to score United's third goal before half-time.

The second half was a better effort from Everton, with Gravesen scoring a nice goal to give them false hope.  But Walter Smith took off Gazza and Yozzer as Everton peaked, and United simply closed the game down.  The End.



EVERTON: Gravesen (52')
Manchester United: Butt (22'), Giggs (24'), Solskjaer (39')
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used
EVERTON: Gerrard; Dunne, S Watson, Weir, S Hughes (46' Unsworth); Alexandersson, Nyarko, Gravesen, Gascoigne (65' Gemmill); Jeffers, M Hughes (65' Campbell).
Unavailable: Ball, Ferguson, Gough, Myhre, Pembridge, Pistone, Xavier (injured).
Simonsen,  Moore.
Manchester United: Barthez (77' van der Gouw); Silvestre, Brown, G Neville, Irwin; Butt, Beckham, Scholes (73' P Neville); Solskjaer, Giggs (46' Yorke), Sheringham. Cole, Wallwork.
   Playing Strips  Formations
EVERTON: Royal Blue shirts; white shorts; blue socks. 4-4-2; 3-5-2
Manchester United: Red shirts; black shorts; black socks. 4-4-2
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
EVERTON: Unsworth (55'), Nyarko (57'), Jeffers (76'), Dunne (79'), Gemmill (84')
Manchester United: Scholes (56')
Sports.Com Detailed Match Stats    

Mickey Blue Eyes Shot with a Diamond Bullet
Rob Burns Poor Shape, Boys
Steve Bickerton Rabbits frozen in the headlights
Richard Marland The annual trial by Man Utd.
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH United step on the gas
by Colin Malam
THE SUNDAY TIMES Barthez injury clouds victory
by Joe Lovejoy
THE TIMES Ruthless United put down roots for further growth
by Kevin McCarra
THE OBSERVER Link to Football Unlimited
THE INDEPENDENT Link to Match Reports
THE GUARDIAN Link to Football Unlimited
LIVERPOOL ECHO Link to Echo Report

DAILY POST Link to Daily Post Report

EVERTON FC SITE Link to Official Match Report

SPORTING LIFE Link to PA Sports Match Report
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SKY SPORTS Link to Sky Sports Match Report
SOCCERNET Link to SoccerNet Match Report
FA-PREMIER Link to FA-Premier Match Report

 Shot with a Diamond Bullet
Mickey Blue Eyes
There's a point in Coppola's great movie Apocalypse Now when Colonel Kurtz recounts a particularly horrible war crime by the Viet Kong.  It is a pivotal event in his life, a moment of instant crystal-clear recognition of the reality of war.  He describes it as "...being shot through the forehead with a diamond bullet..."  On Saturday, in footy terms we were shot through the forehead with a diamond bullet.  Ouch!

Firstly most importantly credit where it is due:  the present Manchester United side are unquestionably a great team.  Anybody who denies that is either a churl, a fool, willfully ignorant, or living in a long-gone era.  And the thing to remember most of all is that they still have at least two years in them, notwithstanding individual boredom or injury.  Might as well get ready for it now.  The Mad Mullah has created arguably the greatest club side of modern times.  Everything else is superfluous, including the spurious claptrap about where their support comes from.  We all know it.  Oh sure... someone's going to beat them.  But immediately beyond that lies only cloud-cuckoo land.

Equally, we all knew beforehand that, man-for-man, they had the better of us in almost every position.  Our biggest hope was to hustle and hound them out of their game and hope we could get something through to our own best players.  It was a slender hope based on the fact that United usually get bladdered once a season.  They're only human after all.

Weeellll.... that little plan was, er, gone in 60 seconds.  They were all over us from the off-ski.  It wouldn't have mattered who we had playing and in what formation.  There's no point being silly about this.  We just weren't in it.  After three rapid goals from Butt, Giggs and Solskjaer surrender of the first two being a bit unsatisfactory you really began to think in terms of a total rout.  And then they visibly took their foot off the gas.  

As usual, the key was in midfield where Scholesy and Butt they murdered us.  They won everything and spread it wide to Beckham and Giggs.  When Beckham had a bit of a torrid time out right he simply came into the centre and sprayed it around from there with deadly accuracy.  Our entire midfield just couldn't get near them.  Alex looked completely inept for the first time; The Gravedigger looked ponderous; nobody gave the ball to Nic (nobody HAD the bastard to give to him in the first place); in fact everyone was getting run in circles... period!  You can't criticise the physique of the Invisible Man.

In terms of class, the second half wasn't that much different.  It's just that we got an encouraging goal when The Gravedigger stoutly broad-shouldered his way through on a 25-m run from the right and stuck it under their keeper into the Street End goal.  A few minutes later, The Ears had a half-chance but was quickly crowded out on the edge of the box.  Had THAT gone in, it could have got very interesting...

The Gravedigger stayed wide right for most of the remaining time and almost repeated his goal on another ebullient run.  The Street End loved that.

After the substitutions, one of which was SuperKev, the Mancs could have scored a couple more even at two thirds pace.  They picked up again for a period when it got somewhat fractious and we collected a few bookings, more out of pique than anything else... and a couple of which were needlessly incited by Beckham when he made a meal of some challenges.  There was also a first-half incident when the Mancs surrounded the referee and rightly drew the considerable wrath of the Street End.

The cumulative affect of this is to make them the Pantomime Villains of the Premiership all needless and nowhere near as important as most people seem to make it.... it's very annoying but no more than that.  What pisses me off even more is that they are so good and promise to be for a long time to come.

Also, there's an awful lot of shite talked about what this means.  Well, some perspective is in order here.  There's nothing new about a dominant team.  These things come in cycles.  For instance, United couldn't get anywhere near us in the eighties.  I didn't hear anyone complaining then.

No point attacking United for the present system which probably means they'll be at the top for longer than anyone else before.  It's the system which is full of shit.  And THAT was put in place by all the Premiership clubs, including us, when they were bribed by Murdoch.  If you want things to change, attack the SYSTEM.  Until you do, it's more of the same.

In the meantime, nothing changes the fact that Manchester United are a great team destined for sporting immortality.  But it can't go on forever because nothing ever does.  Our task now is to get ourselves to the point where we have a team which will rely on more than hustle and hope when playing them.  It applies to everyone else in the Prem too.

On Saturday's evidence I'd say United will win the Prem with a great deal to spare, possibly as much as twelve or fifteen points.  Everything else is wishful thinking.

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Poor Shape, Boys
Rob Burns
Inexplicably, two lyrics by Europopsters Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe are circling round in my head and neither of them is Go West.   The first is Disappointed the second Getting away with it which I'll come to later. 

DISAPPOINTED In Walter Smith.  A tactically naive starting line-up must have been a gift to his friend and confidant Alex Ferguson.  Lining up at the back were Dunne, Weir, Watson and Hughes.  In midfield Gascoigne played wide left, reuniting Gravesen and Nyarko in the centre with Alexandersson starting on his favoured right side.  

Anyone who has listened to the radio pundits today will know already that the questions are being asked as to why the right back Watson played in the centre of defence, while the immobile Dunne was put on the right to mark, err.... Ryan Giggs!  Stephen Hughes, fresh from his exploits at the Riverside last week, held the left back position over Unsworth, with the less-than-sprightly Gascoigne in front of him marking, err... David Beckham!!!

United left Dunne to make his own problems distribution that could only be described as desperate gave them far more possession on the flank than Alexandersson could ever expect.  Irwin linked with Beckham with frightening ease on the right and despite a competent display by Hughes the acres of space left by Gazza caused all sorts of problems. 

DISAPPOINTED In Mark Hughes, who's performance in the first half is worthy of note as he seemed uncomfortable attacking his old club, giving possession away too often and failing to show his mettle to a team that, despite playing without Stam in the centre, where there to be tested. 

DISAPPOINTED - In the whole Everton team, who showed little fight in the first half and looked in awe of the waves of Scum attacks which pushed us back into the Gwladys St End and cut us open at every opportunity.   

There were few high points in the opening 45 minutes and clearly Walter saw the error of his ways.  Replacing Hughes with Unsworth and switching to a back three of Weir, Watson and Dunne for the second half.  Gravesen took the right wing-back position and immediately the side rallied, this time it was blue shirts attacking on the wing closest to my vantage point in Bullens Rd.  

Gravesen's persistence paid off as he picked up a long cross-field ball from the Everton left and, with good control, found his way quickly into the penalty area where he squeezed the ball between the legs of Barthez.  The atmosphere boiled and Everton were in the ascendancy.  

Admittedly United had released their grip, but to see the blues seize upon the opportunity was refreshing.  The introduction of Gemmill for Gascoigne and Campbell for Hughes M was also encouraging as they looked to push on, but superb defending by United was summed up as Gravesen broke away and with Campbell, Alexandersson and Jeffers all in front of him but unable to play any of them through as the United back-line move up brilliantly this was world class defending. 

Everton's failure to reduce the deficit further was partly due to the introduction of Yorke, replacing Giggs; he saw the vulnerability of Dunne and repeatedly ran at and exposed the Irishman's limitations, turning him inside and out and pinning the home side back as Gravesen covered the right side of defence.  

It was also due to United continually GETTING AWAY WITH IT. 

The 'United Law' introduced to stop players surrounding the referee was constantly flouted by players such as Beckham, Solskjaer and Sheringham, all of whom were also guilty of diving as if they had been victim to the well-publicised overnight flooding.  With Everton gaining momentum, they killed the game with criminal time wasting, for throw-ins, free-kicks and substitutions, including the farcical change of van der Gouw for the injured Barthez which was on, then off, then on again and took an age as Barthez shuffled the width of the field.  

It was enough to silence the home support and provide several yellow cards, including one for Nyarko ironically for remonstrating his innocence after a Beckham death roll.  True, they are a gifted side and certainly the best in Britain, but their experiences in Europe seem to have brought the worst aspects of the continental game into their play and this is sad to see.  

Everton go to a difficult match at Leicester next week.  We have the talent to ruin their great start to the season but, unless we have guaranteed levels of fitness amongst our first choice defenders, Walter will have to buck up his ideas and learn quickly from his mistakes or concede the first half for a second week running.  Still, the talk at the end was always positive as we reminded the Scum fans that "WE'VE GOT ALL YOUR PETROL AND WE WON BIG BROTHER!"

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 Rabbits frozen in the headlights
Steve Bickerton
Today was a day to which I hadn't looked forward.

In the traditional sense of the expression, I had tried to shut it from my mind.  A team, just 5 weeks or so in the making, against arguably the best team side in Europe, with a maturity gained over something like 8 or 9 years.  There surely couldn't be a contest, could there?  In a far more literal sense, I hadn't had time to think about it, with worries about fuel (or lack of it) and road blockages.  But I won't go down that road...

Then came the day; I picked over the news, I chewed over the gossip and I digested the data.  A draw, I felt, was not outwith our grasp.  A footballing midfield like United's would give our fledgling engine room the opportunity to develop, to shine and to compete.

I was wrong.

Not that we didn't have the ability; not that we didn't have the flair.  We didn't have the belief, the application or the heart.  We didn't have a right-back at right-back; he was at centre-back.  Our makeshift right-back was an international centre-back.  Our left-back was a left-sided midfielder and our left-sided midfielder was just too slow in this sort of company.

There isn't really much to say about the first half.  We allowed them the freedom of the park.  They took it.  We gave up a sloppy first goal as Butt nudged the ball past Gerrard with his stomach; they rode their luck with a second minutes later, as Giggs latched onto a rebound from a brilliant save of Gerrard's (that doesn't do justice to the quality of the strike, but its as good as it gets).  As for the third.  How far offside is offside?  Maybe I should wait to see the goal again on Match of the Day, but 5 yards looked about right from where I was, as Beckham took advantage of the linesman being 20 yards behind the play to set up Solskjaer.

At half-time it was all over bar the shouting and we hadn't had much if that either.

The second half was a different matter though.  Walter had obviously reminded one or two players in his inimitably dulcet tones that it takes two teams to make a match.  We were more of a team in the second half.  I can take comfort that, having lost the first half 3-0, we won the second 1-0.  

The goal by Gravesen was as majestic a piece of football as we were likely to see today a raking 40 yard cross-field pass from Watson finding the Dane perfectly placed to run through on goal and drill the ball home.  I wanted more, but it didn't arrive.  Offside suddenly became the name of the game as we were time and again adjudged to have made the final run too soon.  We weren't alone though as United had two goals disallowed for the same offence.

Worst offender of the day, though was Beckham.  I admit to not liking the man a jot.  My views were reinforced today as his gesturing and posturing, his diving and complaining saw two players booked Jeffers for being close and Nyarko for tripping him after being smacked in the face.  I despise the man.  He has so much talent.

Today, fear was the key; United were the better side on the day, not because of their skill, but because they believed they would win.  We were rabbits frozen in headlights, paralysed by fear.  They were the foxes, sly and silky.  We rolled over and died in the first half.  We got no more than we deserved.

It can only get better.

Man of the Match:  Thomas Gravesen - a great goal, a reasonable all round performance.

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 The annual trial by Man Utd.
Richard Marland
By far the best team in the land and one of the elite of Europe... what exactly could our injury-hit bunch do against them?  Last year we had escaped with a creditable draw.  This year my hopes and ambitions didn't go any higher than that.

Walter seemed to be trying, in a season of too many team changes, to keep changes to minimum.  Xavier had to be replaced (another injury victim of a bad opposition tackle) but Richard Dunne was now available again as was Cleland.  On the left, Unsworth, and possibly Ball were available again.  Walter kept the changes to a straight swap of Dunne for Xavier.  I presume that Cleland and Ball were discounted because of a lack of match-fitness and that Unsworth was discounted because of concerns over his very recent return from injury.  The centre-back pairing of Watson and Weir was kept, I presumed, because of a decent performance against Middlesbrough.  That was my take on the team selection anyway.

The first 10 minutes or so were very ominous.  They kept possession and pressure with almost contemptuous ease; virtually all the play was in our half of the field.  Our midfield was being by-passed and we were struggling.  Eventually, though, we did manage to get ourselves into the game we were even able to spend some time in the Man Utd half.

Just at the point at which I thought we were gaining a little bit of parity, Man Utd do what good teams do: they hit us and they hit us hard.  First Solskjaer got free on our left and put in a cross which Nicky Butt bundled into the net.  Within two minutes we were two behind; Sheringham surged forward and beat Weir's attempted tackle comprehensively, his shot was well saved by Gerrard but Giggs picked up the rebound and shot unerringly into the corner of the net.

We were reeling, it didn't take too long for the third: Beckham found space in the centre, he looked to be offside but apparently he was played on-side by Steve Watson, he found Solskjaer who found the net.

Half-time came as a blessed relief; they were three up and it could have been more.  I was genuinely fearful for the second half and was simply hoping that United would take their foot off the gas and let us off from a hiding.  Clearly Walter had to do something.  Unsworth came on to spare Stephen Hughes further embarrassment, it was a pity he couldn't have done the same for Richard Dunne.

We came out with a new resolve, and that combined with United easing back enabled us to gain some sort of parity in the game.  We started competing for the ball and even began to look vaguely dangerous.  At the heart of all of this was Thomas Gravesen (now playing as part of a three-man midfield with Alexandersson being pushed further forward).  After about 10 minutes, he had his personal reward, running onto an excellent pass from Steve Watson.  His first touch controlled the ball, his second touched it through Bartez's legs into the net.  An exceptionally well-taken goal.

We continued to press after this; I even began to harbour thoughts that we might be able to knick another.  We hardly had United reeling but we were making them a little uncomfortable.  Our purple spell lasted about 15 minutes before the game seemed to peter out in a welter of free kicks, United time wasting and United substitutions.  It was frustrating to watch the way they killed the flow of the game, and disappointing the way in which the referee allowed them to get away with it.

After the first-half mauling, it was nice to get at least a little bit of self respect back.  We "won" the second half but even then they probably had the best of it hitting the post, having one cleared off the line, having one ruled out for offside.  Not bad when you've taken your foot off the gas.

Comparing this year's United game to last year's creditable 1-1 draw, it would be easy to conclude that we have gone backwards since then.  That isn't necessarily the case; last year we started the season with a genuine "team", the majority of them had been together for at least a season, and they had worked very hard on the team ethos in pre-season.  That, combined with a little early season lethargy from United, probably accounted for our draw.  

This year, United have arrived in full flow and on an unbeaten league run that goes back to February... we, on the other hand, are still stuttering and struggling to bed in new players amidst an injury crisis.  On Saturday, our entire midfield were new signings; United's entire team has been there for years.  That's not to excuse for some of the ineptitude of our first half performance on Saturday, but goes some way to explaining the gulf between the two sides the understanding between the United players was easy to spot.

Personally I'm not too disheartened by Saturday.  A little alarmed, yes... but United are so far ahead of the rest we can discount them for now.  We still sit in the top half of the table, we will get better as the new players bed-in, as Kevin Campbell returns to fitness, and as we get defenders fit again.  Our aim should be to finish, at least, top 10 and that is still on even if United maul us twice a season.

  • Gerrard 6  Not at his most commanding.  A few good saves and can't be faulted too much for the goals, but not entirely convincing.
  • Dunne 5  I always feel that Dunne is one of those players who needs a number of games to really get going and today he had a bit of a nightmare.  I know full-back isn't his preferred position but he has enough experience of playing there, and he's a good enough defender to have made a better job of it than he did.
  • Weir 6  Did his best to keep things together but it was a bit of a thankless task.  Badly missed a tackle on Sheringham for the second goal, which is unusual for him, but apart from that he was pretty steady.
  • Watson S 6  Another who made a reasonable fist of things in difficult circumstances.
  • Hughes S 5  His inexperience at full back was starkly shown, not least by the first goal where he decided to stay with Beckham rather than track the runner.  With left-backs now returning to fitness lets hope his left-back days are behind him.
  • Alexandersson 6  Apart from the first 45 minutes against Derby, I've been a little disappointed in Alexandersson.  Today he seemed too often to be on the wrong side of the defender; on several occasions, balls were played through for him to run onto, yet he was always second-best because the defender was always goal-side of him.
  • Gravesen 6  He was fairly anonymous in the first half but was much better after the break when he was at the fulcrum of all our best movements.  Took his goal very well indeed.
  • Nyarko 6  Plenty of occasions when he showed his undoubted class, he can definitely play in, and hold his own in, this compan All he seems to be missing is the ability to play for 90 minutes like that.
  • Gascoigne 6  Had a few good moments but rather overshadowed by Beckham.
  • Hughes M 6  Gave a typically committed display, held the ball up well and linked the play OK.
  • Jeffers 6  At least he gave them something to think about with his runs and general support play.  If he did indeed get caught offside as often as the linesmen thought then he has a problem, somehow though I don't think he was offside as often as they thought he was.
  • Unsworth 6  Definitely made a difference after the break when he performed more than competently.
  • Campbell 5  Looked somewhat immobile and leaden footed.  Clearly has some way to go yet on his general fitness.
  • Gemmill 6  Came on and performed tidily enough.

Team 5 Even allowing for the general excellence of United's play, we didn't exactly help ourselves with some distinctly shoddy defending; all their goals seemed to be rather soft affairs and very avoidable.  The second half was merely about self respect, we were a well beaten side.

Man of the match  Gravesen comes into contention for his part in our brief spell of sustained possession.  Over the full ninety minutes, though, I reckon Weir was about the best of anyone.

   Up to Reports Index ]
 United step on the gas
Colin Malam, Electronic Telegraph
AS contests go, this was about as unequal as the one between the Government and the petrol price protesters.  Everton, eighth in the table at the start of the day and supposedly on the up-and-up, were outplayed and outclassed to such an extent by a cruising Manchester United at Goodison Park that they hardly had a shot at goal while Premiership leaders could easily have reached double figures.

In the end, United had to be satisfied with the three goals by Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the first half that took their early-season haul to 17 in the last four games while Everton's only bright spot was a goal from Danish international Thomas Gravesen soon after the restart.

The worrying thing about this comprehensive victory for the rest of the Premiership is that it was achieved without leading scorer Andy Cole, omitted as a precaution with a slight rib injury, captain Roy Keane, serving the last segment of his three-match suspension, and the first-choice central defensive partnership of Jaap Stam and Ronny Johnsen, both of them nursing injuries.

Already, only six games into the season, United's defence of the Premiership title is beginning to look irresistible.  They face an extremely testing programme in the next fortnight, which brings European League Cup matches against Dynamo Kiev and PSV Eindhoven and league games against Chelsea and Arsenal, but no one who saw them overrun Everton yesterday would put much money on the opposition.

United's only worries are the injuries they picked up in this game, which saw five Everton players booked in a second half of markedly greater physical effort by the home side.  Gary Neville (ribs), Butt (back) and Solskjaer (ankle) are all on the injury list, but the most notable casualty was French international goalkeeper Fabien Barthez, who pulled a muscle in his back and had to be replaced by his deputy, Raimond van der Gouw after 78 minutes.

The Dutchman will keep his place for Tuesday's trip to play Dynamo Kiev because, as United manager Sir Alex Ferguson explained, the injury will take 10 days to heal and Barthez relies on his agility more than most.

In the first half, United opened up with such a blitz on the Everton goal that Barthez was nothing more than an interested bystander as he watched his team-mates create enough chances to have taken a three-goal lead inside the first six minutes.

Paul Gerrard, his Everton counterpart, saved from Solskjaer when the Norwegian wriggled clear of two defenders, then the United players reacted furiously when a shot by Paul Scholes, bound for goal, was deflected for a corner, seemingly by Steve Watson's hand.  Finally, at the conclusion of that opening burst, Solskjaer blazed Denis Irwin's perfect pull-back wastefully over the crossbar.

Everton made a token effort to force their way into the game, Gary Neville slicing a Niclas Alexandersson centre over his own goal, before United got down to the serious business of winning the game.  Butt started it in the 26th minute by throwing himself at Solskjaer's inviting centre and chesting his first goal of the season past Gerrard.

Only three minutes later, Giggs made it 2-0 by driving the rebound into the bottom corner with killing precision from 20 yards after poor Gerrard had made an excellent save, diving low to his right to keep out a fierce shot from Teddy Sheringham.  The third goal arrived after 38 minutes, Solskjaer beating Gerrard with the free shot David Beckham's simple pass had given him.  It was Solskjaer's compensation for having been denied brilliantly by Gerrard a little earlier.

Everton did try to make more of a game of it in the second half by taking off Stephen Hughes, bringing on the more muscular David Unsworth and switching to 3-5-2.  They were rewarded in the 53rd minute, when Watson found Gravesen on the right with a glorious crossfield pass.

Holding off the tracking run of Dwight Yorke, brought on as a second-half substitute for Giggs with Tuesday's game in mind, Gravesen drilled the ball into the far corner.  Either side of that rare flash of home inspiration, however, Solskjaer skied a wonderful chance over the crossbar from no more than 12 yards and Watson cleared a pile-driver from the same United player off the line with Gerrard beaten.

Yorke, switched eventually into the middle, also clipped a Beckham pass against a post as the remainder of the match degenerated into a messy succession of bookings and substitutions.  But the abiding memory was of United's majesty before the interval.  Ferguson thought United's first-half performance was their best of the season so far, and few would argue with that, least of all Everton.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

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 Barthez injury clouds victory
by Joe Lovejoy, The Sunday Times
THE Fire Brigade were called to Goodison Park before the match.  They should have called them back at half-time, at which stage Everton were three down and facing a dire emergency against opponents who seem intent on wrapping up the championship by Christmas.

United have now scored 17 goals in their last four matches, and will provide the most testing of starts for Chelsea's new coach, Claudio Ranieri, when the two teams meet at Old Trafford next Saturday.   First, of course, England's finest have a European League Cup date in Kiev, where the Ukrainians will have to be at their most dynamic to keep them out.

It was with Europe in mind that Andy Cole was rested here, and Ryan Giggs, having scored, was substituted at half-time.  Sir Alex Ferguson's best-laid plans suffered disruption, however, when Fabien Barthez had to go off, injured, after 77 minutes. 

The match had been won and lost long before Barthez withdrew, courtesy of goals by Giggs, Nicky Butt and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who made the most of a rare appearance in the starting line-up.  Everton replied through Denmark's Thomas Gravesen, their best player, but despite a muscular second-half fightback they were inferior by a country mile.  Their manager, Walter Smith, said: "We were very poor in possession, giving the ball away too easily.  We can have no complaints with the margin."

Like him, loathe him, or couldn't care less, attention will always be paid to Paul Gascoigne, and it was interesting to see England's best player of yesteryear up against his successor, David Beckham.  With Gascoigne starting on the left, they were in direct opposition, but despite the crowd's partisan insistence otherwise, there could be only one winner, and the local hero was withdrawn, a spent force in every sense, after 70 minutes.

United were soon off and running again.  It took them a while to settle, but then they scored three in the space of 12 minutes, and Everton were in danger of going the way of Anderlecht and Bradford.

Even during the unremarkable opening skirmishes, United were much the more cohesive and penetrative side, opening salvoes of varying inaccuracy coming from Solskjaer and Beckham.  Then, after 27 minutes, Solskjaer turned Stephen Hughes, the Everton left-back, before crossing accurately for Butt to turn the ball in from close range.  Two minutes later it was 2-0, and the outcome of arithmetical interest only.  Teddy Sheringham surged through the middle, past David Weir, and although his low drive was saved by Paul Gerrard, plunging to his right, the loose ball ran straight to Giggs, who drilled it firmly into the unguarded net.

Paul Gerrard made a good save, high to his left, from Solskjaer, but had no chance when United scored again. Mickael Silvestre picked out Beckham on the left for once with a lovely long pass, and the midfielder had all the time in the world to set up Solskjaer, who was unattended as he rifled the ball in, right to left.  All across the penalty area, defenders had been conspicuous by their absence.

Everton had little to offer but toil and sweat.  The tears, presumably, came later, when Smith had his say.  His new-look team have had some useful results, most recently their win at Middlesbrough last week, but they were poor here.

Forecourt congestion is nothing compared to the queue to get into the United team, and there was no place until the second half for Dwight Yorke, nor for Cole, after his hat-trick in midweek.  Two more notable absentees from the red ranks were Roy Keane, suspended, and Jaap Stam, still not fully fit.  In Stam's continuing absence, there was a first start of the season for Wes Brown, who did his reputation no harm in central defence, while Butt deputised for Keane at the midfield hub.  Some stand-in.  The rest of the league would love to make him a first choice.

Everton, in mitigation, were again without Duncan Ferguson, who has undergone calf surgery, and Kevin Campbell, still not fully restored after injury, started on the bench.  In their absence, Mark Hughes started against his alma mater, but accomplished nothing of note, demonstrating at 36 that time waits for no man.

Discontented rumblings circling Goodison were silenced with a goal after 54 minutes, Steve Watson's long ball enabling Gravesen to cut in from the right and finish in cool, emphatic fashion.  But United insisted that they should have had a penalty, for 4-0, before Everton scored, when Richard Dunne brought down Solskjaer, and the Norwegian might have had a couple more goals when he scooped wastefully over from nine yards, then had a skimming drive impressively saved.  Not that it really mattered.  It had all been settled in the first half-hour.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

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 Ruthless United put down roots for further growth
by Kevin McCarra, The Times

THE windows were opaque, the drawn curtains behind the driver's seat cut off another view of the interior and police motorcyclists shepherded the bus towards the M62.  It might be wise to guard expensive footballers, but the trip home must have been the first time that there was a possibility of a threat to Manchester United on Saturday.  Goodison Park itself had been a haven.

To the irritation of Walter Smith, the manager, Everton were self-effacing before the interval, but it might have been impossible to grapple with United in any case.  They were always a pace or a thought in front of pursuers and although Sir Alex Ferguson appreciated his side's eagerness, it was the dispassionate aloofness of their superiority that hushed the crowd.

Everton were only nominally the challengers.  United tested themselves, gearing up for matches months away.  Ferguson knows that if the team complete the groundwork now, they can "handle the games in March and April".  Gallingly for rivals, United are continuing to develop.

There is a deepening richness to the talent of David Beckham.  Always quick to interpret situations, he is now bolder in his responses.  When United broke, in the 38th minute, he ran hard to get himself to the left flank, where Mikael Silvestre could pick him out easily.  The rest was svelte: Beckham's nonchalant control preceding the ruthless pass that put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer through to make it 3-0.

The Norwegian's presence was an element of Ferguson's reshuffle.  Wes Brown, 20, made his first appearance since sustaining cruciate ligament damage a year ago and the manager called him "a true centre half".  United wallow in resources to such an extent that they can afford to deny themselves full use of them.  Ronny Johnsen may have been injured, but, of the other centre-backs, Henning Berg is on loan to Blackburn Rovers and Jaap Stam was "given the weekend off".

In the 27th minute, the lively Solskjaer had turned to strike a waist-high cross that Nicky Butt tummied into the net from close range.  Two minutes later, Teddy Sheringham dodged David Weir and shot.  Paul Gerrard, the goalkeeper, parried, but Ryan Giggs potted the rebound from outside the penalty area with the confidence of a man on the six-yard line.

Everton eventually scored through Thomas Gravesen, but the actual damage to United came when Fabien Barthez, the goalkeeper, pulled a muscle in his back.  Raimond van der Gouw should deputise against Dynamo Kiev in the European League Cup tomorrow.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

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