Three points were required at Everton after last week's dismal derby defeat and the champions ground out a 1-0 victory to muster the right response.
Admittedly, the Reds weren't at their most fluent - and Tom Cleverley's injury after a bright return to Barclays Premier League action was a real setback - but Javier Hernandez's 19th-minute goal proved decisive. Any suggestion that the Merseysiders would tire after being taken into extra-time by Chelsea in a midweek cup tie proved ill-founded as United had to batten down the hatches for much of the second half.
Sir Alex made five changes to the team that lost to City last Sunday with Wayne Rooney starting in a withdrawn role alongside Cleverley and Darren Fletcher, and Jonny Evans returning from the suspension he served at Aldershot.
In a breathless opening, Seamus Coleman cut inside Patrice Evra to shoot at David De Gea within the first 18 seconds and Tim Howard pulled off a good stop at the other end when Ji-sung Park tried to convert a Danny Welbeck cross inside two minutes.
United took a firm grip on proceedings and some sustained pressure led to a well-worked opener. Cleverley and Welbeck helped the ball wide to Evra and the full-back's dangerous low cross was tapped home by Hernandez with his left foot. Although Welbeck nearly latched onto a risky headed backpass by Phil Jagielka, the champions were unable to carve out
too many openings and Everton came back into the match.
De Gea saved from Leon Osman after Marouane Fellaini beat Evans in the air and Jack Rodwell fired wide when afforded far too much space after Evra conceded possession cheaply. The hosts were unlucky not to draw level with 40 minutes gone as Fletcher's foul allowed Leighton Baines to curl a free-kick over the wall and past the stationary De Gea but against the bar.
Although Hernandez had a weak attempt at Howard following a slick build-up, there was no doubt Everton ended the half on the front feet as Louis Saha twice worked De Gea.
After introducing young Ross Barkley at the break, David Moyes' side continued to press but De Gea blocked a Rodwell drive after Evans gifted the ball to Coleman on the right. The champions were dealt a blow when the lively Cleverley was forced off injured and continued to make heavy weather of a tough assignement.
Welbeck finally brought Howard into action when the American pushed over the striker's shot from Hernandez's intelligent pass with the team's only real goal attempt of the second period. But, after making all three subsitutions, United struggled to find any rhythm and Everton built up another head of steam. Saha dragged wastefully wide when Coleman was better placed and was then blocked during a real goalmouth scramble.
Despite their weary legs, the hosts ensured it was a nervous finale for everybody of a Red persuasion. Coleman managed a couple of efforts through to De Gea but the Spain Under-21 keeper was rarely over-extended, in truth.
Six minutes of injury time were agonising for the away fans and Evra escaped when Magaye Guaye went down under his challenge inside the box with Mark Halsey making the right call and waving away the desperate penalty appeals. It wasn't pretty but it's three away wins in the league already this term after only five were secured during the title-winning campaign last term.*Match report taken from ManUtd.comOctober has now drawn to a close for MUFC so now its time to choose your Player Of The Month.Full match highlights of MUFC v Everton at Goodison Park
Where to start after yesterdays humiliation? Readers of my previous blog will no doubt be aware that I've been predicting for a while a beating like yesterday was on the cards, sadly never in a million years did I think it would be against City.
The lack of fight, the lack of effort from most of our players is unforgivable, as is some United fans leaving after going 3-0 down - you dont deserve a ticket or to even be there with that attitude.
Starting with City you have to hold your hands up and say the better team on the day won, they deserved their victory, with 11 v 11 the defeat wouldnt have been so bad but I feel we still would have lost because of that poor midfield we have.
Maybe 2 of our midfielders would make it into Citys XI, Young & Nani, the rest would struggle to even get on the bench which says it all about the quality and current form of our midfield.
David Silva yesterday was on top form, hes such a classy little player, up there with Iniesta & Xavi, & to think that the Spanish national team struggle to find a place for him in their starting lineup!
To think Silva issued a come and get me plea to United before his move to city...we ended up with Bebe!
Mancini got his tactics spot on, Toure & Barry holding and protecting the defence and nulifying the "threat" of Anderson & Fletcher.
Fletcher is without doubt a big game player but only when fit, yesterday he looked a few yards off the pace bar an exceptional goal which seems to have been forgotten about. Anderson for the past 4 to 5 games has been poor, looking a tad unfit, huffing and puffing after 50 mins or so of the game, his form is so up and down its frustrating.
Carrick, possibly our best player in midweek dare I say it was missed yesterday, hindsight being a wonderful thing but going against the 3 man City midfield with 3 players wouldve been hard enough never mind 2!
The 1st goal is an example of this, both Fletcher & Anderson a good few yards away from Balotelli, giving him time to make an unchallenged placed shot into the bottom corner. No protection.
So here we are talking about the midfield again, obvious to so many that we lack a true top drawer player there yet for the past 3 seasons have done nothing to sort this troublesome position out.
Sure we flirted with Sneijder in the summer, but even if we had him yesterday he wouldnt have changed anything, harping on again we need that midfield general, the hard man, the protector, someone who isnt afraid to smash into a tackle and ruffle a few feathers.
Why this problem hasnt been addressed im not sure, it makes no sense.
You may point to the fact that we have Tom Cleverley in our ranks & Paul Pogba about to break through but they are young, it would be unfair to put them in now and expect them to perform week in week out, it would possibly be the same with what we are seeing with Anderson at the moment, massivley inconsistent.
There are a couple of players in our ranks that if I were them id be concerned about my place in the team, firstly Rio Ferdinand, in and out of the team and having to be nursed through games, he looks like hes lost a lot of pace and yesterday after going 3-0 down barely showed any spirit, hardly breaking sweat to track back when city were on the break. Thankfully he didnt go down to Wembley with the Glazers, if he did I think he wouldve lost the fans support for good. Message to Rio now has to be forget about his android apps, his stay on your feet t-shirts and concentrate on United, if not ship him out whilst we could still get a decent sum for him. Something Ferguson wouldnt be afraid to do.
Finally we have Evra, whats happened to this player I do not know. There was a time I'd argue tooth & nail that he was the best left back in the world but over these past 12 months hes turned into not even being the best in the Premiership.
He bombs forward but now rarely delivers a telling cross, hes slow to track back and when he eventually does hes completley out of position.
An alarming amount of goals we've conceeded this season have come from around Evras area or from him not being there. Yesterday was a disgusting performance from him, made even worse that he had the armband on and was meant to set an example!
If it wasnt for the fact that Fabio & Rafael seem to be made from glass I wouldnt be against the idea of selling him, 30 years of age, his mind looking like its elsewhere.... starnger things have happened.
So where do we go from here as far as the league goes? well we have Everton away on Saturday, typically the Toffees seem to be picking up a bit of form just as we are about to play them and its a game im really not lookign forawrd to in the slightest.
Saturday will see our annual trip to Anfield with the hope that MUFC will be able to turn around their fortune after some pretty disasterous performances and results in recent seasons.
United havent won at Anfield since our 1-0 victory back in 2007, but it hasnt been past results that leave me with unease with the upcoming fixture but rather the lacklustre performances from the players themselves.
As a football fan you have to take the rough with the smooth and understand that sometimes your team is going to lose and although its never a nice experience if your team has tried well and put in maximum effort you can live with it. What fans wont tolerate are half hearted performances and thats exactly what we've had to endure on our last few visits to Anfield. No fight, no passion.
Why we've had these inept performances im not so sure, I'd hate to think that the players themselves now that we have a few "out of towners" dont know what a United v Liverpool fixture is all about or if the occasion is just too big for them and they bottle it?
Alex Ferguson has suggested the atmosphere gets to them which if true is a sad state of affairs as our group of players have played infront of far more hostile supporters and in bigger circumstances also.
Maybe the players know before they go out there that the game has already been lost because of the tactics....?
Take a quick look at the stats this season and you will see that United have allowed more shots at their goal than any other team in the Premiership and its easy to see why, because of our attacking setup and our center midfield that dont abide by their defensive duties.
Arguably our 1st choice center midfield when fit and going by early season form is the Cleverley/Anderson combo, neither of whom are renowned for their defensive brain. The other combo of Fletcher/Carrick one of whom seems to still be struggling for fitness and match sharpness then other other almost scared to put his foot into a tackle.
Without sounding like a broken record its an ongoing problem since the end of 2008. Our midfield just cannot cope with an "in your face" battle from a quality midfield which Liverpool to a degree have.
Although they are far,far,far from the standard of Barcelona, Liverpool do close down quickly in midfield and thats exactly what our midfielders dont like, with the exception of Cleverley & Anderson who are both comfortable on the ball but then run the risk of your midfield cutting cut open like a hot knife through butter.
Add all this to the fact that we have a left back that is a regressing at an alarming rate and we have trouble. Look at the game against Chelsea when we easily could have conceded 4 or 5. We are only a matter of time away from a hiding and that could come on Saturday.
On paper the current Liverpool squad & Manager are a million miles from us in all honesty and only a very poor Arsenal will see Liverpool most likely slip into a Champions League position.
The "My Little Pony" that cost a staggering £35m has proved to be a massive flop and certainly doesnt look like justifying his transfer fee & status anytime soon (watch him score on saturday now!)
You have Jordan Henderson struggling to win over his own support nevermind everyone else who raised a brow with his move & fee, Charlie Adam who has done alright but makes Anderson look like an Adonis running on a duracell battery and finally Stewart Downing, the player that was apparently the best winger at Villa... *uhem* Ashley Young anyone?
On the plus side for the scousers they have Suarez, a gifted little player but also one of the dirtiest Ive seen. Hopefully its only a matter of time before the FA clamp down on his constant diving and theatrics, then again probably not after Queen Kenny had a nice cuppa over at FA HQ they now seem to be bussom buddies, look to the officiating during the Merseyside Derby for proof of that.
Scouse fans of course turn a blind eye to that and still bleat about Nani last season after the horrendous tackle from Carragher that left Nani with his shin bone visable. The proof is there what happend but dont let facts get in the way. Horrible bunch.
We have been on the end of some debatable ref desicions in the past few seasons down at Anfield that would have no doubt changed the outcome of the games, as mentioned earlier Carragher should have seen red for his tackle on Nani and the season before he should have also walked after taking out Michael Owen as the last defender.
With the ref's clearly already on the side of Liverpool, United not having the right type of player for these games & the fact that we will most likely be letting countless shots at us then we do face a mammouth task to get anything out of the game on Saturday.
1 shining light however is our attack, we posses a front 3 that can create and score out of nothing, Nani, Rooney & Ashley Young will need to be on top of their game, if they are then Liverpool might score a couple yes but we should score a couple more than them.
We just have to hope that the game isnt ruined by the ref and that at no point will we see Queen Kenny smirking and dancing like one of those PG Tips monkeys on the sidelines.
Come on United!!!
Wayne, Wayne, Wayne, Mr Rooney yet again found himself in the headlines this weekend but unfortunatley for the wrong reasons. Rooney received his marching orders whilst on international duty for England in their vital qualifier against Montenegro for kicking out in frustration at an opposing player, putting Englands chances of getting a point and qualifying in the balance (England qualified)
United supporters (as always) closed ranks and supported our number 10 in readiness for the inveitable media backlash towards Englands best player.
The day previous Rooneys Dad & Uncle had been arressted and bailed with connections to match betting, something that could have been on Waynes mind as he swung a leg in anger at the Montenegro player? I dont think so.
For Wayne the red mist is never too far away and never more so than when he pulls on the 3 lions shirt. My personal opinion is that its there through sheer frustration when playing for England.
At United he looks happy the majority of the time, smiling, celebrating when scoring, I cant remember the last time Rooney looked happy or even content whilst playing for England. I genuinley think Rooney doesnt like playing for his country, if last years World Cup is anything to go by he has cottoned on to how fickle the supporters are with his outburst towards them.
Whilst frustration doesnt excuse lashing out at opponents it does go some way to explaining why one so talented would do this. Isolated upfront with arguably not the quality of player around him that hes used to at club level.
As soon as Rooney delivered the kick he knew he was off & had done wrong. A stupid moment that could have been disasterous for his country, however England held out and spared Rooneys blushes.
This time last year Rooney was going through the roughest time of his career to date and irked the majority of United supporters by handing in a transfer request & announcing it 30 mins before United were kicking off against Bursaspor. Rooney hid behind the Glazer regime as an excuse as to why he wanted out, a very clever move to get some support back onside.
The story goes that Rooney couldnt believe the signing of Bebe and his lack of talent that made him question the ambition of the club. In truth I think it was a mixture of everything, tapping up from City, problems in his social life & the poor advisement he got from
The above left a sour taste in many United supporters mouths, I now dont look at him as "one of us" anymore and dont hold him in the same regard as Cantona, Beckham & Keane after they were all targeted by the media for various reasons, but thats not to say that I dont think hes a great footballer, I'd go as far to say hes our best player and certainly most important.
Wayne Rooney the footballer is almost perfect and I'd much rather him be at United than anywhere else for the rest of his career, I think the problem is Wayne Rooney the person. To put it bluntly Wayne just isnt a nice guy.
There's the cheating on his wife, the fouls on the pitch, the red mist, holding United to ransom. It all adds up that Wayne unfortunatley is a stereotypical modern day footballer, however his talent is so good you can over look it.
Can you imagine any other player to put in a transfer request and Sir Alex fight tooth & nail to keep him? No neither can I.
All great players have a darkside that you have to put to oneside because their talent is that good, Maradonna and Gazza being prime examples.
To sum it up incidents like Friday night are always close when Rooneys involved if things arent going his way. The supporters defence of him should be applauded, no one has said he didnt deserve a red card but the support for him is there no doubt about it.
The problem for me would be if he ever did that in a game For United, if he ever kicked out against someone and put our place in the final of the European Cup or vital league points at steak.
If he were to do that then no United supporter should stick up for him.Ever
For any football fan who has a games console the annual arrival of FIFA is always one to look forward to and this years edition proves to be not only the best FIFA ever but dare I say it the best Football game of all time?
I remember my 1st experience of FIFA way back in 94 I think it was on the mega drive, it didnt have real players in it, everyone looked the same but it played like a dream.
A few years later FIFA took a step back as Pro Evolution Soccer or PES as we will call it took the limelight during the PS1/PS2 & original xbox days.
I was a huge PES fan during that era but sadly since the next generation of consoles arrived PES has regressed (a little bit like Michael Carrick!) whilst FIFA has risen from the flames and delivered a fantastic game each year.
FIFA 12 builds on the exceptional FIFA 11 keeping all the best parts of that game such as virtual pro and the sublime tricks & passing controls but adds a depth to gameplay like ive never seen in a football game before.
I didnt play the demo before release as I wanted to experience the full game, many of my friends did and told me about how hard it is to defend now that EA have completly overhauled the defence engine on it.
My 1st game I won on professional difficulty as United (obviously) against City 5-1, I didnt find the defending that difficult at 1st, however as games progressed and I went online I soon released it was a lot harder, but certainly for the best.
In previous years there hasnt been an art or skill to defending, its been a simple push of a button, now you have to position your players correctly, jockey the attackers to force them wide and time a challenge to perfection.
You need to persist with defending as once youve cracked it you really feel that youve accomplished something and making a good tackle feels almost as good as scoring a 30 yard screamer.
FIFA 12 has tons of games modes, more than ive ever seen in a football game, to be fair most of them are aimed at online so make sure you have internet connection so you can get the most out of the game.
This I think is fair to say the main part of the game and probably the part you will spend the majority of your time in the early days of gameplay.
You select what club you want to manage and include your virtual pro in it who will then earn xp and level up for doing certain things in games, eg scoring, assisting, tackles etc.
Once you are at the helm of your chosen club you can start making signings, selling players basically anything you do in Football Manager but in a watered down fashion.
The presentation in this part of the game is brilliant, it includes transfer deadline day in which there is a ticker counting down the minutes of the final day of the window meaning you could be forced into panic buying. Its a great slant and adds some great depth to the mode.
During the season you will get unhappy players, players out of form and of course the reverse of all that if your winning games and rotating your squad correctly.
Head to Head seasons
I think this could possibly be my favourite addition to FIFA this year.
At the begining of the game you have to pick what club you support and from that moment when playing online in H2H you represent your club.
There is a personal division in which you get 10 games to play online against other human teams, basic rules of a league apply in getting points for winning & drawing.
The aim is to get to the top division (you start in div 10) and have a target each season to get a certain amount of points to gain promotion & of course you can be relegated too!
Whilst playing this your xp earned will go towards the team you support, in our cases Manchester United, this is represented in an online league tables with fans of clubs all over the world.
Sadly United got relegated form the top tier this week because we didnt earn enough XP! must try harder!
In FIFA 11, Ultimate Team really got a hold of me and its fair to say it became quite an addiction.
The aim of the game is to make a team of fantastic players from opening packs of "cards" online. Think of back to the day when we used to collect footballs stickers and youre halfway there!
You then build a team from opening packs, if you get a player you dont like or isnt very good then you put them on the trade pile (transfer market) and hopefully sell them for coins (FIFA currency), with that money you can go hunting for a player yourself that you would prefer, keeping in mind that the player with have to gel with your team eg. if the player is from the same league as other players,same nationality or same club they will play better than say Messi playing upfront with Rooney.
You then enter tournaments online and play against human or cpu opponents earning coins along the way to buy more players or packs of cards.
Its really addicitive and you could probably base a whole game on it.
I thought I would be playing Ultimate team a lot this year but so far I havent due to the huge depth in gameplay modes, I'm sure once I get through the career mode I'll be kept busy with ultimate Team.
FIFA 12 isnt perfect by any means but its the closest a football game has ever been in my opinion.
It plays like a real football game, you cant lose concentration for a second as you will be punished at the back, to score a goal you really have to move the ball around the midfield and feed you strikers with a perfect pass.
In a nutshell, if you have a games console and love football then buy it.
Simple as. 4/5
Got an xbox 360? add me using the gamertag - williamsmufc
Buy FIFA 12 below