Positives to Take from Manchester United's Loss to Everton
Last night saw the start of Manchester United's 2012-13 Premier League campaign. Suffice to say, it did not go as smoothly as most fans might have hoped.
United looked utterly outclassed by a very impressive Everton side for the first hour of the match, and even when stepping up a gear with a third of the game to go, they continuously failed to break down the Toffee's stalwart back four.
In a nutshell, United looked like the team expecting to finish mid-table and Everton the side looking to challenge for Premier League glory.
But as bad as the Red Devils were for the majority of the game, there were still some aspects of the match from which United fans can draw hope.
It would be unfair to too-heavily criticise the defence from last night. After all, Antonio Valencia and Michael Carrick (two midfielders) both had to adopt positions that they would be far from suited playing in under Fergie.
Yes, Valencia has played RB a couple of times before during this year's preseason, but when Phil Jones is back it will become more than apparent how much of a temporary assignment this is for the Ecuadorian.
Red Devils supporters need not worry that the defensive shortcomings exhibited last night will become a running factor as the season progresses.
In reality the only two players in defence for United last night who will be expecting regular first-team football in the role were Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra.
Despite a shaky start, Vidic's awareness and pure ability started to come through as the game went on.
It's never easy to come back from such a long-term injury, but the Serbian showed that he is well and truly back on his way to top form again in the closing stages of the game.
The real concern for United comes in the form of the far from impressive Evra at left-back. The Frenchman will have to severely step up his game in the coming weeks if he wishes to keep his place in the starting XI ahead of new shock-signing Alexander Buttner.
In regards to the midfield, things weren't actually quite as bad as they might have seemed.
Both Tom Cleverly and Shinji Kagawa (despite not having brilliant games) showed their ability to find a pass through almost any channel, and were generally efficient at aiding United in keeping possession of the football in the centre of the park.
On more than one occasion Kagawa managed to thread the ball through the eye of a needle into the feet of Danny Welbeck.
One can very much put the slight lack of cohesion between the midfield trio down to Cleverly's absence for the vast majority of preseason on Olympic duty.
After a short spell on the training ground I'm more than confident that these two players can become the proverbial Xavi and Iniesta of United. Ok, not quite that standard or quality of football, but you catch my drift.
Going forward was a real issue last night. I hate to say it, but that was mostly in part to a very sloppy Danny Welbeck showing.
Twice Kagawa cut open the Everton back line with pinpoint passes, only for the usually-assured Welbeck to poorly control the ball before allowing Phil Jagielka back in to deal with the issue at hand.
One has to believe that if those balls had found the feet of Wayne Rooney or Robin van Persie, the scoreline might have been very different last night.
Nobody can blame Fergie for starting RVP on the bench last night. He joined the club just days ago, and has had little-to-no time to play with his new teammates. As such, the lack of goal-scoring threat in the game is really not something that Manchester United fans should be too concerned about.
Come next Saturday's home fixture against Fulham, I more than expect huge strides forward in relation to the van Persie-Rooney-Kagawa partnership, that could see United stroll to the title this year.
These are very early days, but despite how bad United were last night, there should still be a lot of hope from their fans for the coming year.
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