Sir Alex rues absent finish
Sir Alex Ferguson praised United’s general performance – but lamented the lack of a clinical edge – as his side slipped to a rare opening-day defeat.
For only the fourth time in 21 Premier League seasons, the Reds failed to pick up any points in the first fixture, despite matching Everton’s work ethic and producing some inventive play around the box at Goodison Park.
“I think it was a pretty good game actually,” Sir Alex told MUTV. “We had plenty of possession and made some great openings without actually finishing them. But I have no criticism of my team tonight, they applied themselves well.”
United goalkeeper David De Gea was called into action more often than his opposite number, former Reds shot-stopper Tim Howard; the Spaniard made several outstanding saves to keep the score at 0-0 for half-time.
“That was the main difference, they got their shots on target and our goalkeeper did very well,” reflected Sir Alex.
“We had a couple of moments [when we nearly scored]. I thought maybe Danny Welbeck was pushed as he went into the box. That was a big moment and Tom Cleverley had his shot blocked by Phil Jagielka on the line in the second half.
“We played really good football at times. We had some good combination play.”
The match was settled at a set-piece when another ex-United player Darron Gibson swung in a corner from the right and Belgian international Marouane Fellaini – a nemesis when the sides drew 4-4 in April – capped another pivotal display against the Reds by heading past De Gea from close range.
“Fellaini is a handful,” admitted Sir Alex. “He’s a big, tall, gangly lad and they just lumped the ball towards him all the time. That’s all they did and they worked it from that base. But he got the goal for them so it’s justified.”
With Shinji Kagawa impressing on his full debut in midfield, Sir Alex sent on another summer signing to try and snatch a draw or more. But he felt Robin van Persie – only confirmed as a United player three days ago – did not receive the best service from his new team-mates.
“I thought we played around Robin too much. We didn’t show enough penetration. With Robin in your team, you really want to use his ability against centre-backs, he’s very good in those situations. But we didn’t use that.”