Everton 3-3 Manchester United: Daily Mirror match report
Published 23:00 12/09/10 By David Maddock
There are many Everton fans who will rue the fact they were denied the chance to abuse their favourite hate-figure Wayne Rooney.
But more of the Blues faithful will be cursing the striker for overshadowing what was a quite remarkable performance from their side in a classic Premier League encounter.
An epic contest which encapsulated everything that is good about English football simply didn’t deserve to be demoted to second billing by Roo’s bedroom shenanigans.
The quality and class on show and the honesty and passion of the endeavour is what being a footballer at this level should really be all about. Not easy money and easy women. That may be an idealistic sentiment but it is one shared by Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes, two managers with such old-fashioned values as dignity and integrity.
Ferguson showed that by dropping Rooney. Forget all the nonsense about him protecting the striker from the abuse of Everton fans... the only protection Rooney required this week will have been from his manager.
He may also have needed a bit of protection from Moyes, who will have been dismayed that the kid he set on the road to stardom has not yet learnt the lessons that were set
out at an early age, and dismayed further that his side’s magnificent comeback was so overlooked.
The Goodison chief was brave enough this week to reiterate his belief that his side are capable of a top-four challenge this season.
No wonder then, that he signed heavily and almost rolled his eyes when the inevitable Rooney questions arrived. He answered them wearily, but ached to move on to a more dignified subject.
“Look, we always seem to end up back on Rooney, but there were other things out there, other players whose talent deserves to be recognised,” he said.
“There were a lot of fans who paid good money to come here and watch football and they got some incredible football for that money.
“My team proved what I have been saying this season, that we have the ability to match the best. It has been hard to keep saying that with the points we have so far, but we really do have good players and a good team.
“I would have said that even if we had lost 3-1, but we showed the desire, the quality and spirit to be able to match United, and we’ll be a match for most teams this season.”
Moyes is right. The quality on show doesn’t deserve to be diminished by the lack of it displayed by a player who wasn’t even at the ground.
Paul Scholes was immense, his level of performance and his sheer commitment after so long in the game an example that Rooney should follow. Ditto Ryan Giggs.
United were magnificent for 90 minutes. Unfortunately for them, the game lasted 93. Everton also produced periods of sustained brilliance, and even if both sides made mistakes, the goals that arrived were all things of beauty.
The first, on the stroke of half-time from Steven Pienaar, was produced by a moment of instinctive class by Leon Osman, only to be bettered almost immediately by a brilliant Darren Fletcher finish.
After the break, the immense Nemanja Vidic added a second for the visitors before Dimitar Berbatov seemed to seal the game for his side with a goal that confirmed his genius.
Trust Everton not to lie down, though, and when Leighton Baines twice galloped down the left flank and unleashed exocet crosses in injury time, Tim Cahill and then Mikel Arteta provided a fairytale ending to the afternoon’s awesome entertainment.
It left the crowd breathless, and both Ferguson and his assistant Mike Phelan incandescent and speechless. The latter did manage to splutter: “We are stunned because in those dying few minutes we didn’t do our job properly. But it was still some game.”
Too right...and one even Mr Rooney couldn’t spoil, though his absence from such a festival of football on the ground he loves was a shame for the crowd, and a shame for him too. Let’s hope the message has struck home this time.