Date: 13th August 2007 at 9:57am
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United fought bravely and absolutely battered Reading in their first Premiership fixture – but the result is disappointing.

Saha and Ole are still out while Tevez is short of match fitness so Sir Alex, unsurprisingly, opted for Rooney and Giggs up front. Scholes, after his surprise comeback against Dunfermline, was in the starting line-up while Evra was once again deployed as a left winger.

He did fairly well in that and the team looked dangerous. Rooney, Ronaldo and Giggs were lively and we created a few half-chances and some real gilt-edged ones: Giggs’ shot from a difficult angle after Ronaldo’s brilliant cross would have beaten Hahnemann but it hit the post. Rooney fired over the bar from close range (and fractured his foot in the process) and Carrick also had a very dangerous shot.

However, it was apparent that Reading do not even try to play football. Their revolutionary 9-0-1 formation worked well, though – and I must say that last season we were able to break down teams like they at home…

One might argue that we broke down Reading, too, on a number of occasions but did not put away our chances. Well, it’s certainly true but we knew it was going to be difficult when Rooney did not come back from the second half.

His replacement, Nani was dangerous but there was no more attacking substitution on the bench, Fergie was forced to send in O’Shea as a striker. The big Irishman almost found a way through after some excellent work from Ronaldo and Scholes but fired his shot at Hahnemann when it would have been easier to score.

It was hilarious of course to see Dave Kitson coming in and getting himself sent off within seconds but let’s face it: it did not make much difference. Kevin Doyle, the man he replaced, did nothing apart from attacking our defenders when some Reading player hoofed the ball forward desperately, and it did not cause much discomfort for Vida and Rio.

Scholes should have won us the game in the closing minutes but directed his header into the arms of the goalkeeper who seemed to have cast a spell on our players – though we created chances with ease, we fired them away into all directions and too rarely we managed to hit the target.

A highly frustrating encounter but once we’ll have Tevez and Saha and then Rooney back, we’ll probably have much fewer problems with putting away our chances. The midweek visit to Portsmouth is a game I’d gladly postpone – and I’m sure Sir Alex agrees – but we must somehow try and take the three points. I hope Reading will put up a similar fight against Chelsea on Wednesday.

Player Ratings

Van der Sar 0
Was he on the pitch?

Brown 6
He played as a right-winger for the entire game and though he was enthusiastic, he rarely produced something really useful. Should have opened the scoring when he beat Hahnemann for a corner.

Vidic 6
Brought the ball comfortably forward whenever someone hoofed it in his direction.

Ferdinand 6
Brought the ball comfortably forward whenever someone hoofed it in his direction.

Silvestre 5
Poor again. O’Shea is a better full-back than him, even though the Irishman is a right-footed player.

Ronaldo 6
Not bad, caused problems but the end product was not what we had got used to last season.

Scholes 5
Disappointing. Always the safety option first, no killer passes and dared to shoot only in the closing minutes.

Carrick 6
Did his job but maybe should have gone forward more.

Evra 6
It’s an unfamiliar position for the Frenchman but he rose to the challenge again. Faded in the second half.

Giggs 6
One of the best chances of the game fell to him but he was as unlucky as the whole team.

Rooney 7
Failed to put away his chances but was full of energy, pace and even creativity.

Nani 7
Wreaked havoc more often than not but his shots went horribly astray.

O’Shea 6
Was threatening as a striker but last season’s best Premiership finisher failed to put away a glorious opportunity.
No impact whatsoever.

Manager Rating
I don’t really understand why Anderson wasn’t on the bench instead of Piqué or Fletcher. He could have been a useful addition in the second half when we were chasing the game.

Opponent Rating
Steve Coppell did what he had to at Old Trafford. Nine man behind the ball, one hopeless centre-forward up front on his own – it worked, it was a bit too much for us today.