Many people debated whether marquee signing van Persie would come straight into the eleven, and in the end Ferguson opted to start him on the bench with Rooney filling the lone striker role in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Danny Welbeck cutting in from the left on occasion. It’s no secret that the strength to United’s play for as long as I can remember is getting it wide in the final third and relying on delivery from our usually excellent wingers. With the signings of van Persie and Kagawa, presumably to fill central roles, I had been expecting to see a little less reliance on this tactic against Everton. Perhaps it was a credit to David Moyes and the disciplined Everton defense that gave us no option but to spray it wide by compacting the middle of the final third. Whether it was forced upon United or not, the tactic didn’t work. Nani had one of the poorer games I’ve seen him play in a United shirt and Valencia, playing at right back, didn’t have his usual licence to take defenders on in the final third.
Kagawa, who looked promising on debut, mixed it up, occasionally cutting in on the left and at other times, looking to play one-twos on the edge of the box with Rooney. It was a tough introduction for the Japanese international, against a typically determined Everton defence that limited his space and time on the ball. United looked at their most dangerous on the couple of occasions that Welbeck made direct runs into the box, before he was replaced mid-way through the second half by van Persie.
It was one of those games where it felt a goal just wasn’t going to come, perhaps typified by Phil Jagielka’s clearance off the line when Tom Cleverley seemed destined to score. United will have to improve at home to Fulham on the weekend, who had a hugely impressive victory over Norwich on Saturday. It may be the first week of a long season, but the points all add up and Chelsea and City have made a flying start compared to United’s lacklustre performance tonight.
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