Boos echo round Old Trafford as United are riddled with anxiety

In their first outing since defeat in Lisbon ended all interest in Europe, United delivered a performance that was worthy of the false promises. Tension consumed Old Trafford as early as the seventh minute yesterday when James McFadden beat Edwin van der Sar at his near post, and though Ryan Giggs converted an exquisite equaliser nine minutes later there was little in the home display to suggest the frustration of their Champions' League campaign has been channelled into a relentless pursuit of the title. The boos that rang round the ground at the end reflected that.

"We were a bit anxious and we lacked composure," said the United manager. "The players, they were desperate to win and put everything into the performance. We had chances after we equalised to score a second and I thought we deserved to win. We played some fantastic football but in the second half it petered out."

Everton became the third club to take points from United at Old Trafford this season, indicative of a home failing that cost Ferguson's team dear in Europe. "You've got to take you chances at home and maybe they [the players] are now starting to realise what it really means when you don't," Ferguson admitted.

Ferguson only expanded on the pressures of his position in his programme notes, in which he appealed for patience but admitted that the club's transitional period was still far from a satisfactory conclusion. " People talk about the club coming under pressure and inevitably the media seek at moments like this to make it personal but that's not a problem for me. It was ever thus because there is always great demand and expectation at this club," he wrote.

"Facing disappointments and setbacks is part and parcel of being manager at Old Trafford. That's a key element of my job and I shall simply get on with the rebuilding work that must be undertaken in the present transitional stage."

The Everton manager, David Moyes, who was without several key players due to injury and suspension, even had cause to regret the final result after his side squandered a number of second-half chances to add to Ferguson's dismay. "It is always a difficult place to get a result, but with a bit more quality in the final third we could have won. We have not been making many chances this season but we did today and that says something," said Moyes, the "something" referring to Everton's recent improvement rather than United's vulnerability.

Everton are still awaiting a response from former United captain Roy Keane on an offer to move to Goodison Park, though Moyes said: "There are eight to 10 clubs interested in him. I hope we've got a chance of getting him but we have not had an answer yet. We are keen to bring him to the club but I don't want to say too much."

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