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Manchester United's strike force not good enough?

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What went wrong for Manchester United
The Red Devils' much anticipated opening fixture against Everton turned out to be a nightmare for millions of fans across the globe.

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And with the blockbuster signing of former Gunner Robin van Persie, all that excitement and thrill drained out after the Toffees beat Manchester United by a solitary goal at Goodinson Park.

The Dutch hitman watched his side go down in the 57th minute when Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini beat make-shift centre-half Michael Carrick to head home the winner in the 57th minute. The 24-year old Belgian even hit the woodwork minutes before the first half.

Injury to veteran Rio Ferdinand, who has been sidelined for several weeks, meant that Sir Alex Ferguson had no choice but to shift Carrick to central defensive role as Johnny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones were all injured.

Skipper Nemanja Vidic returned after a long injury lay off, missing nearly half of last season, and was clearly not 100 percent match fit although featuring in a few pre-season friendlies.

However, new signing Shinji Kagawa tasted Premier league football for the first time but did well enough to wriggle through defenders and pose any kind of threat while striker Wayne Rooney had one of those forgetful night's in front of goal despite playing in a second strikers role behind Danny Welbeck.

Veteran Scholes and Tom Cleverly handled business in midfdield while winger Antonio Valencia was at right back. But no doubt their best performer of the night was goalkeeper David De Gea as David Moyes' men threatened throughout the first half.

What meant to be Europe's best strike force or the one that replicates United's 1999 treble winning attacking-partnership didn't come together for Ferguson.

However, the Scotsman blamed his United stars for not playing around and supplying enough passes for the 24 million-man, Van Persie, who made his debut off the bench 10 minutes after United went down replacing Welbeck.

Naturally, United moved forward with greater pace and desire after conceding before the hour-mark. Fellaini was Everton's focal point in the game, playing in an advanced role behind the main striker. Aerial battles were easily dealt with against Vidic while left-back Leighton Baines managed to stop Valencia bursting forward to provide crosses.

Phil Jagielka made sure to block Welbeck's and Kagawa's teasing forward runs while he also stopped crosses from reaching Van Persie while in the box. Moyes' tactics resembled Roy Hodgson's structured defensive line at Euro 2012 as four to five players in blue worked together to disallow any chances.

Goodison Park has always been a tough place to visit for Fergie's Red Devils but one cannot judge whether it would be different had Van Persie started the game.

United need to first sought out their defensive dilemma as Carrick is not at all suitable to play in central defence. Rooney needs to up his tempo if he wants to keep his place in the team and maintain his superstar status. Despite the loss, the Red Devils have depth in their squad, but can they really challenge for title after Monday night's performance.

OneIndia News

Story first published: Wednesday, August 22, 2012, 16:44 [IST]
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