SMITH AND FERGIE AGREE EVERTON UNLUCKY
By Adam Marshall
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
The relegation-threatened Merseysiders looked a different side to the one dumped out of the FA Cup so embarrassingly by Tranmere last weekend, and made the under-strength hosts look ordinary for long periods.
Sir Alex Ferguson`s decision to rest the likes of Teddy Sheringham, Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville would have backfired - but for the defensive nous of Jaap Stam and Wes Brown, who helped keep The Toffees at bay.
Click here to hear Ferguson's comments.
"We are a bit unfortunate not to take a point," admitted Smith. "We had a number of opportunities but it was the final pass and final cross.
"When you come to Old Trafford and restrict them to as few chances as they had, you feel aggrieved to lose to a deflected goal. We are disappointed not to get a draw.
"I think the keeper had it covered, but it came off his heel and went into the goal. We played steadily, very well at times, and were a bit unfortunate.
"Duncan Ferguson had a slight groin strain which would have ruled him out for a couple of games if he had have played. He`ll be okay for Wednesday. It`s going to be a season where we have to pick up as many points as we can.
"We`ve got Leeds and Leicester to come at home and it will be difficult."
United boss Ferguson conceded: "It was a scrappy game, to be honest. We needed a bit of luck to win it.
"It was a dour game and they defended and broke well. But for our defending, it may have been different - they were unlucky.
"There were two great interceptions from Brown, and one from (Denis) Irwin, and our back four looked really solid. (Fabien) Barthez makes a massive difference to the side.
"We are paying attention to the Champions League and trying to make changes which don`t affect the results, as we have to maintain our winning form.
"We are in a comfortable position but things can change and we`ve seen it before and we are not losing track of that part.
"Maybe I upset the balance a little bit today - (Paul) Scholes was one player I thought could unlock them but he got injured and I felt I had to make a few changes.
"(Luke) Chadwick is going to be a good player, he has a terrific attitude and has the ability to beat players."