LIVERPOOL, Aug 21 (AFP): Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson criticised his own players for failing to utilise Robin van Persie�s talents after they crashed to a surprise 1-0 defeat at Everton.
Van Persie made his eagerly-anticipated United debut as a 68th minute substitute with his new side trailing to Marouane Fellaini�s second half goal at Goodison Park yesterday.
But the Dutch striker, who completed a 24 million pound move from Arsenal last Friday, was unable to inspire Ferguson�s team, who lost their opening game of the Premier League season for the first time since 2004. �We played around him too much, we didn�t show enough penetration and with Robin in your team you know you want to use his ability against centre-backs in situations he is very good at. But we didn�t use him enough,� Ferguson said.
Ferguson explained his decision to start van Persie on the substitutes bench by insisting the striker hadn�t played enough during pre-season.
�He�s not played any football, given the expectation of him playing at any given moment, it was better for him to start on the substitutes� bench,� he said.
�He�s a great player and there is always the temptation to play him when you have a player like that. But the sensible route is to start him on the bench.�
United were lacklustre for long spells and it required a string of fine stops by Spanish keeper David De Gea to prevent Everton from winning by a bigger margin. Midfielder Leon Osman was outstanding for the hosts, but Ferguson admitted his players failed to handle goalscorer Fellaini.
�He is a handful, he is a big, tall, gangly lad and they just lumped the ball forward to him, that�s all they did,� he added.
�They worked from that base all the time and they got a goal from him, so it�s justified.�
Everton manager David Moyes saluted his players after a fine victory, but refused to get carried away after Everton won an opening game of a season for the first time since 2007. The hype before the game had centred around van Persie�s signing and Moyes claimed his side took extra motivation from being largely ignored in the build-up.
�It was all about Manchester United prior to this game and what they have been doing, and I thought that people had called that wrong because Everton are a tough team to beat at Goodison Park,� he said. �Most people going into this game were writing us off and I thought that was a little bit strange.
�We were starting with more or less the same players that finished last season. In the first half David de Gea made a couple of great saves. You�re never going to have the ball all the time against United, but when we didn�t have it we kept a good shape and defended well.
�It was a tight game and when we scored, United picked it up and tried to find different ways to try and get back in the game.�
However, Moyes was impressed by Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa, who made a solid debut for United, and the Everton manager believes can make a big impact after joining from Borussia Dortmund.
�United have made some good signings,� added Moyes. �The Japanese player looks a good signing. �To beat Manchester United is hard but I don�t know if it�s our best performance since I came here.�