Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What happened?

IT was a bad, bad start.

No, not the loss. The loss I can stomach. The way United played was a different story altogether. So what happened?

Apart from De Gea, I don't think any one of the players did well. Granted, the defence was a makeshift one. With Carrick and Valencia on the right, we had a terrible combination. I know Vidic is basically a left-sided player and Carrick is a right-sided one, but couldn't Sir Alex have moved Vidic to the right and Carrick to the left? That way, we would have one experienced defender on each side.

Fellaini was giving the defence all sorts of trouble, and this was largely due to the fact that it was Carrick who was the one, mostly, who had to mark him. Vidic would have done a better job, I feel. So troubled were we that we could have lost by a larger margin, if not for De Gea.

As for the midfield and attack, we were short of ideas. Yes, we managed to keep a little busy, but it was just not good enough. Nani was the worst performer on the field. Nani and Ronaldo have similar ways of going forward, but where the latter developed, the former has been stagnant. Ronaldo developed into a less selfish winger, Nani is still a little too selfish. And he couldn't even get the ball past the near post whenever he took a corner. His crosses, whether from corners or in open play, were so low that even a four-footer would have no problem heading them out of the danger area.

Kagawa was OK, but he still needs time to integrate into the team. The link-ups were not altogether there. And playing without a left winger was not too good an idea. Young should have been playing, with Kagawa and Scholes in the middle of the park. Cleverley, though I have a lot of respect for him, could have been on the bench and brought on later for a fresh pair of legs.

But even without Young on the left, the natural choice to drift wide should have been Rooney, and not young Welbeck. Welbeck was ineffective on the side. He is, after all, more of an out-and-out striker.

So the big question is, should Fergie have played van Persie from the start? I don't think so. I think he made the right choice in leaving the new boy on the bench, simply because he is the newest boy on the roster. Sir Alex is easing him into the team, although the way the team performed, van Persie may just start the next match. He showed some form of understanding last night, but not enough.

The fact of the matter is, the team played badly last night. No two ways about it. No cutting edge whatsoever, despite having nearly 70 per cent of possession, according to official statistics.

The other thing which irked me last night was the performance of the referee. Not that he handled the game badly. I think he did an alright job in that respect. But his positioning was awful. He was in the middle of the action, in the centre of the field, and in many cases, almost right at the top of the semi-circle outside the penalty box. He disrupted both teams whenever they came down the middle, and possibly stopped some of the players from taking shots. Pardon me, Mr Marriner, but shouldn't referees be off slightly to the side of things? Just slightly, of course, as you still need to be close to the action. As it was, there were many times when players from either side had to either turn for a pass to the wing, or you had to run out of the way. It's a wonder no ball hit you.

But all this shouldn't take anything away from the performance of the Merseysiders. Everton were clearly the better team and fully deserved the win. That big Belgian Fellaini seems to make it a habit of scoring against United, and "new" boy Pienaar, in his third spell at the club, was a constant thorn in the Devils' side as well. Their defence was marshalled well by Jagielka and Distin.

So, man of the match for Fellaini, though I think a close second would be De Gea. Perhaps if the match had ended scoreless, our lanky Spaniard would have clinched the award.

It's only the first match of a long season, of course. We can only get better from here. Come on you Red Devils!

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