17/08/2009 11:00, Report by Stewart Gardner
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And they're off!

United win and Liverpool lose. Isn’t football great?

What a perfect start to the new season. Although, judging by the Reds' narrow victory over Birmingham, you may need to prepare yourself for a nerve-wracking nine months. Afterwards, Sir Alex told me he’d gladly take eight 1-0 wins every season. Eight! He must be joking. My nails are in ruins after one.

I must admit I was immensely confident before yesterday’s game. I was blithely telling everyone who would listen that United would declare at 3-0 and win easily. I certainly didn’t expect to be furiously checking my watch for the last 15 minutes or so.

After the Reds failed to get a second goal, you could sense Birmingham were growing in belief and confidence. And United were indebted to Ben Foster for making a terrific save from substitute Christian Benitez. (By the way, did you notice Benitez had the name 'Chucho' on the back of his shirt? Apparently it was his nickname in South America. I’m assured it translates as “little annoying dog”, which apparently accurately reflects his playing style. I’d welcome your suggestions for nicknames that the United squad should have on their shirts!)

I was pleased Foster had such a good game in goal. He probably felt under a bit of pressure after the Community Shield but on Sunday he played with tremendous confidence. And after speaking to him on MUTV after the game, it was pretty clear he’s determined to take his chance while Edwin is out injured.

Speaking of injuries, how strange it is that so many defenders have been struck down so early in the season. I guess that’s why you need such a big squad. You’d never have guessed Fabio was making his Premier League debut and John O’Shea slotted in at centre-back with great assurance.

Also, Ritchie De Laet must be pinching himself. The 20-year-old Belgian was on the bench and may well play at Burnley this week. What a story - a player who didn’t feature for Stoke and spent a spell on loan at

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