Fulham 0 Manchester United 5

Two sets of fairly gifted attackers: one set made space and moved the ball like lightning, the other kept on trying to walk the ball through the most crowded area of the pitch. The game finished 5-0.

We may feel aggrieved at the scoreline, which did flatter United slightly, but our attacking play, though exciting, was not very bright. There is a reason we seem to have so many shots blocked! Teams can funnel us down the middle, knowing that even if we do manage to niftily avoid 2 or 3 challenges, the defenders will still be there or thereabouts to harry/block/challenge. So yes, we might have had a few, and Andrew Johnson really did have one of those nights, but there is a fundamental flaw in what we’re trying to do and unless we can find a way of creating space then a lot of frustrating games lie ahead.

This said, United were surprisingly good. Their movement, particularly on the counter, was electric, and you didn’t need to be Sir Alex Ferguson to see that their pace on the flanks versus our lack of same was a mismatch begging to be exploited. So when Phil Jones went off early Ferguson, ruthlessly, moved Antonio Valencia to right back and brought on Ashley Young.

This could have gone either way, as it notionally weakened an already iffy looking defence, but in the event it just gave United even more purpose going forwards. They dominated the game until it was won.

The first goal was a calamity, Nani getting the red carpet treatment down our left flank as Ruiz then Baird waved him on by. He pulled the ball back and Wellbeck scored easily.

Then Giggs whipped in a cross and Nani headed home.

Then Giggs himself scored, Hangeland lunging in and causing the ball to whirl up and over David Stockdale, who had no chance.

We were much better in the second half and several chances appeared then disappeared. Dembele and Dempsey were again very good, but as noted above, seem to spend an inordinate amount of time dancing through massed defences with predictably low success rates. That they so nearly get there is a credit to their ability, but it feels like we’re missing something.  Bryan Ruiz had a disaster of a first half but rebounded in the second, perhaps because United were happier to drop back and contain.

They got a couple more late on, Rooney larupping home from miles out off the post, Berbatov flicking home enigmatically from inside the area. All that effort from our players then they do that, almost on a whim. Wow.

Difficult, then. On the one hand, United were excellent. On the other, we don’t usually lose 5-0 to even the best teams, and particularly not at home.

9 thoughts on “Fulham 0 Manchester United 5

  1. So, in the Manchester United Preview video on the club website Sarah Brookes asks Martin Jol ‘what’s the difference in the game-plan’ (compared to the Bolton game)? Jol proceeds, thus, on United:

    ‘The difference will be the flank players… (United) play almost in a 4-2-4… these one-v-ones on the flanks that is probably their main quality…you will see that tomorrow… United will try to give us a problem on the flanks…’

    And didn’t they just! And was there anything in Jol’s selection and set-up, despite this professed awareness, to counter this threat? Any ‘game-plan’? Didn’t look like it.

    1. Currently in the Putney Bridge Premier Inn. Full of Mancs. Well sorry, not Mancs, half of them sound southern but they support utd. Been forced to watch the match three times, once at cottage, once on sky sports and once on MOTD.

      Bit embarrassed. Utd basically exploited all the weaknesses we’ve shown all season to devastating effect. Were the players on strike first half?! Yes we looked better second half (story of our season) but lacked any ideas when we got to their box (story 2 of our season)

      Yes Utd played well but tactically we got it wrong, selection was wrong and the performance was bad.

      Onwards and upwards. Happy Christmas!

    2. Very interesting. After I watched Ruiz make no effort in trying to prevent Nani run gently straight past him, I thought that he either must of either mistaken Nani for one of his team mates or he was told that he didn’t need to defend. That goal was diabolical. Any conference team could have scored it.
      As dissapointing as our season has been so far I think Jol will prove to be an excellent choice on the long run. But his substitutions yesterday were rediculous. I can only immagine that he did not bring on Bobby sooner through stubborness as he would have looked like a mug for not including him at the beginning had Bobby scored in the time he came on. Also, I assume that Baird must of picked up a knock? No other excuse to bring on Kelly to replace him. And as much as Etuhu serves the purpose of the enforcer, and he put some good passes together in the second half, whats the point in having him on instead of a more creative player when your 3 nil down and Man U were sitting back?
      We generally look more dangerous going forward than we have in past few years, at the expense of being overexposed at the back, primarily as we have 2 wingers that don’t seem to have been told to defend. Which is very different to what Hodgson had us playing:
      I think a game between this team and Hodgson’s Europa League finalsts would see our current team with most of the posession, attacking play and shots on goal, but losing 3 nil, with 2 goals coming in extra time.

  2. Also, I don’t know if we were all that better in the second half. I felt it was more United just sitting back and inviting us to shoot from outside. So naturally we’d *look* better.

    And they were right: we have no width, no speed, and without Bobby no link-up play; just a whole bunch of “shoot first” midfielders that will crack it whenever space opens up. Feels like I’m watching the New York Knicks a few years ago when they had Marbury, Francis, Robinson, et al. Mamma mia.

  3. I think Sir Alex worked us out from watching the Bolton game – we like to stay narrow in attack so he had Carrack and Giggs sit in front of the back 4 when we had the ball and give Murphy and our front 4 no space to play with. He worked out that we have the slowest left and right backs in the comp so he made sure most of the fast breaks were directed down there.

  4. Jol out thought tactically tonight with the result that we were thoroughly embarassed by a very good but not great Man U performance.
    Over the last few seasons our fine home record has kept us out of trouble but from 9 home games we have now dropped 15 points and our home goals conceded is the fifth worst in the division. Allied to our abysmal away form, 10 blanks in our 15 away games in all competitions, means we need to show a real improvement in the second half of the season if we are not to become genuine drop contenders.

  5. Even though I couldn’t watch the game, just seeing the starting line-up on my phone was enough to let me know we we’re going to win. Having Bobby sit on the bench when he was most needed as the man to lead our line was a huge blunder. I understand Jol’s job is to bring in youth to our aging side, but Bobby has been devastating against ManU over the past three years! And what’s with those substitutions? Rubbish all around.

    I’ve adjusted my goals for the season to: 1. Stay up and 2. Fulfil goal one. I’ve officially become neutral on Shrek.

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