Brave, brave team. Steve Coppell's Reading withstood Man Utd at Old Trafford as the Red Devils put on a suffocating display. It was a siege as Man Utd stormed Reading's bastions, took the drawbridge down, put up the climbing ladders, as surge after surge could not in the end breech the entrance. All the possession in the world, a man down, and a referee seeming only too eager to give free kicks, could not provide Man Utd its three points. What a difference from their 5-0 swamping of Fulham in last season's opener which set the tone for their championship run.
Reading gave Man Utd all the space to roam and threw bodies at the back and Ulises De la Cruz, Duberry, Shorey, and Ingimarsson, did a fantastic job of keeping the marauding Red Devils away. And when they were breeched, Marcus Hahnemann turned in one of his finest performances in goal. What was truly amazing was his gathering the ball so cleanly on his first touch because any spillage would have resulted in a goal.
Dave Kitson's introduction for Kevin Doyle was expected but what was not expected was his foul on Evra would result in his expulsion within a minute of his appearance. But it makes Reading's heroics even starker as they were reduced to ten men with more than a half hour left.
I think this is the sort of game that gets talked about a lot when you put together a season. Last season's run contained losses against Arsenal which did not in the end affect the final result but Man Utd could not have been too happy to have lost to one of their fiercest rivals. This match should have been put away but was not. And so they drop two valuable points to their competitors early on but more importantly there might be this nagging feeling that their high octane attack can be stopped by a team as determined and disciplined as Reading. The flip side is that Steve Coppell should ensure against a let down after this heroic display.