A perfect start to a new campaign. Four outings, twelve points and a shade under three goals a game put away! At least that’s what it could, and should, have been for Manchester United if not for an uncharacteristic collapse in the dying moments. Not once but twice. So where does the frustrating problem exist? The answer may well be a simple one. While a mental assumption that a game had already been won could be part of the answer, the major factor may be a more worrying one.
When Everton were left with nothing to lose and threw caution to the wind in the dying moments on Saturday, just as Fulham had done at Craven Cottage, United were simply unable to cope with the intense pressure they found themselves under. If that’s the case, and it can only be a big if, we can only be thankful that the weakness was uncovered at such an early part of the season when there’s plenty of time to rectify it. But that does not stop the bitter taste at seeing four precious points frittered away still lingering.
Everton 3 vs Manchester United 3
Daily Telegraph – Everton and Manchester United contrived to score six goals at Goodison Park on Saturday. Two of them, for Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta, came deep into injury time, costing the visitors what had seemed a comfortable victory. David Moyes even found time to explode in a rage at referee Martin Atkinson. For all the drama, though, this was a game dominated by a man who did not play.
“I can’t explain it” said Ferguson. “Going 3-1 up you think you are comfortable but sometimes football comes back to bite you. We had it under control. It is a terrible end for us. Sometimes football just does that to you.” Full Report
Manchester Evening News – Everton scored twice in stoppage time to snatch a dramatic 3-3 draw at home to Manchester United, who left Wayne Rooney out of their squad after a week of allegations about his private life. Rooney did not even travel to Goodison Park as manager Sir Alex Ferguson, on the occasion of his 700th Premier League match, claimed he wanted to protect the 24 year old from abuse from the fans with whom he used to be a favourite.
The disruption appeared to affect his teammates early on as they fell behind to a Steven Pienaar goal but Darren Fletcher, Nemanja Vidic and Dimitar Berbatov put United well ahead before the Toffees’ stunning late comeback through Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta. Ferguson has overseen plenty of player controversies during his lengthy tenure at Old Trafford, dealing with the likes of David Beckham’s celebrity lifestyle and Roy Keane’s unique brand of criticism. Full Report
BBC Sport – Everton staged a stunning comeback to score twice in injury time to deprive Manchester United of victory after Sir Alex Ferguson dropped Wayne Rooney for his return to Goodison Park. United looked to be making light of Rooney’s absence for Ferguson’s 700th game in Premier League management as they held a comfortable two goal lead at the start of three minutes of added time.
Everton, who had looked neat in possession without having a cutting edge, found a foothold in the game with Tim Cahill’s header and, with United suddenly rocking, Mikel Arteta fired home a deflected equaliser to spark wild scenes of celebration. Full Report
Everton – Howard, Hibbert (Coleman 69), Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Osman, Heitinga (Yakubu 69), Arteta, Pienaar, Fellaini, Cahill. Subs Not Used: Mucha, Bilyaletdinov, Beckford, Neville, Gueye. Booked: Heitinga.
Goals – Pienaar 39, Arteta 90, Cahill 90.
Manchester United –Van der Sar, Neville, Vidic, Jonathan Evans, Evra (Park 81), Scholes, O’Shea, Fletcher, Nani, Berbatov, Giggs. Subs Not Used: Kuszczak, Owen, Smalling, Rafael Da Silva, Macheda, Gibson. Booked: Giggs.
Goal – Fletcher 43, Vidic 47, Berbatov 66.
Referee – Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).
Was it a wise decision by Ferguson not to use Wayne Rooney?