MANCHESTER UNITED 3 (Fletcher 35, Carrick 67, Valencia 76) – EVERTON 0
Gate: 75,169. Ref: Steve Bennett.
Sometimes, just sometimes, you have to hold your hand up and admit to being beaten by a better side. Old Trafford, Manchester, Saturday 21st November 2009 was one of those occasions. Completely outclassed in midfield during the first half we were lucky to go in at half time trailing by just one goal. Despite nominally having the numerical advantage by playing five across the middle to United’s four, their four in the shape of Carrick, Fletcher, Valencia and the ageless Giggs, were simply more skilful and just passed their way through us at will.
Moyes started with the expected 4-5-1 with Saha the lone striker and Fellaini playing just off him. Cahill was wide left, while, as we had hoped, Lucas Neill replaced Hibbert at right back. For United Wes Brown and Vidic came in at the heart of their defence while the ’odd couple’ of Rooney and Owen led the attack in a 4-4-2 formation.
United controlled the first half and it was no surprise when Fletcher scored on 35 minutes and it was a beauty – to all but those with blue eyes. A perfectly executed left foot volley which swerved and went in off the post and gave Tim Howard no chance. Half time saw Yakubu introduced for Gosling and the change worked, at least initially; Everton immediately showed some improvement, carried a greater threat and looked more comfortable. Just as optimism was beginning to grow that an equalizer might be possible Carrick slotted home a Giggs cross for his first of the season and the game was effectively over. Valencia scored a deflected third following a Scholes lay-off to seal an emphatic victory.
Any positives? Yes, five in all; our back four played well and kept Owen and Rooney relatively quiet; Baines was impressive at left back making a number of timely tackles; Yakubu got another 45 minutes under his belt; Bilyaletdinov is another game closer to returning; we don’t have to play United away again this season.
Everton: (4-5-1) Howard; Neill, Yobo, Distin, Baines; Gosling, Rodwell, Cahill ©, Heitinga, Fellaini; Saha
Subs; Nash, Hibbert, Jo, Yakubu, Coleman, Duffy, Baxter
Manchester United: (4-4-2) Van der Sar; Rafael, Wes Brown, Vidic, Evra; Valencia, Fletcher, Carrick, Giggs ©; Rooney, Owen
Subs: Kuszozak, Anderson, Scholes, Welbeck, Obertan, Gibson, De Laet