Man United Away day – Shaz Rahman
The new football season brings new hopes. I was hoping to cash in on the new found glory by going for an away day at Old Trafford in what was a great time with Fulham riding high in the league after the 5-0 demolition job of Norwich and United losing to Everton in the first round of fixtures. Rich was kind enough to sort me out a couple of tickets which meant that off to Old Trafford I went. I travelled to Manchester with a United fan who is from Ipswich and I’m practically from Birmingham so we are two glory hunting football fans.
Moving on to the match itself a great sense of anticipation overcame me and my friend, in such a large amount that we both bought knock off match day scarves. The ground itself is truly spectacular and does deserve the tag of “the theatre of dreams.” Before we sat down, we enjoyed a Singha beer, which is apparently from Thailand. I’d never heard of it before. Just before kick-off Usain Bolt was presented to the crowd with the unsurprising result that he received an amazing reception. He drew a large cheer when he told Alex Ferguson to sign him. Greg Rutherford, the Olympic gold medallist was also presented to the crowd.
Two minutes into the match the away section was sent delirious when we took a very shock lead. I was sat at the opposite end of the ground and was in total shock when Duff was able to score what look like a blindingly simple (very well worked) free kick. We were winning away from home at Old Trafford. What a glorious period of time followed. A period of time that lasted approximately six minutes when Van Persie stunned us with a brilliant volley to level the scores, seemingly out of nowhere. United dominance followed and along with it came two goals. Firstly Fulham fans thought Kagawa was offside when he followed up from a Schwarzer spill (but Riether played him on side). After that Rafael headed in at the back post and we thought that was game over.
During the second half Fulham were able to make a contest out of the match after a bizarre own goal from Vidic. I had no idea what happened. I though Sidwell barged into De Gea thus a foul had been committed. It turns out that Petric was in the near vicinity of De Gea so the goal stood. Fulham applied some late pressure with Ruiz having a header saved. Rooney’s injury also baffled us as I did not understand why the referee stopped the game. Match of the day cleared that up for me. Fulham lost 3-2, much better than the usual thrashing we get at Old Trafford. I was left very pleased with the performance from Fulham with much promise for the season ahead.
On a side note it was a pleasure to see Dembele in his last game for Fulham. His ability to bypass opposition players with super jinking runs via minor changes in direction is beautiful to watch. The balance and poise combined with his strength will be missed. For United Kagawa looks to be a quality distributor as he was always moving into space, looking for the ball and passing it off quickly. I have high hopes for him at United.
A second side point was that there was actual a bit of crowd trouble in the away end. A couple of people were escorted/dragged out of the stand by stewards. I was not sure if I was more bewildered by this or that we went ahead. What was most astonishing about the match though was that Rafael did not get close to getting himself sent off. I don’t even think he got booked.
Overall I really enjoyed my time at Old Trafford. The stadium is spectacular and Fulham played very well. We will miss Dembele but Berbatov hopefully can create some excitement with his seemingly nonchalant brilliance.