Despite the hype leading up to the new campaign, it would be fair to say that most United fans were well and truly underwhelmed following Monday’s 1-0 defeat to Everton. United were played off the park at times although Sir Alex Ferguson claims that the main issue was the lack of service to the strikers.
While Ferguson fielded a makeshift side, which included Michael Carrick and Antonio Valencia taking positions amongst the back four, few people expected the Red Devils to succumb to the Toffees so comfortably. While the home side only won the game by one goal, they had several chances throughout the game and United simply couldn’t cope with goal scorer Marouane Fellaini.
The United manager did admit that the Belgium international is a handful, but seemed more concerned about the team’s lack of creativity. Speaking to the media afterwards, Ferguson said, “Fellaini is a handful: he is a big, tall, gangly lad and they just lumped the ball forward to him, that’s all they did. We played around him [new signing Van Persie] too much, we didn’t show enough penetration. With Robin in your team you know you want to use his ability against centre-backs in situations he is very good at – but we didn’t use him enough.”
Nevertheless, while United are already three points behind rivals City, the alarm bells should not be ringing just yet. Ferguson still has the likes of Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand, Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Darren Fletcher, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans, Javier Hernandez and Robin Van Persie all to call on in the future – with none of these players making the starting eleven for various reasons this time around.
However, following all of the optimism generated throughout the summer, this defeat has certainly hit the club hard and it remains to see just how United will respond against Fulham on Saturday.