United Defeat Resolute Fulham at Old Trafford
Well, there’s not much one could fault our defense or our defensive mids for today. Of course, there was the Diarra mess-up followed by the Hangeland comedy act shortly thereafter, but this was VERY early in the match. Generally speaking, Fulham contained the United attack – only three wingers on the pitch today – and the goal they did give up had a bit of the old pinball wizardry about it.
Of course, I DO have a quibble or two. One is “Why Diarra instead of Murphy?” Murphy has been in Man U’s heads for more than a decade – especially at Old Trafford. He is also the core of our attacking creativity. Diarra played well, please don’t get me wrong, but if we’re going to bench Danny for an away match, why in the world would it be at Old Trafford? As it was, Oh Captain Our Captain came on long enough to make two brilliant passes that might have resulted in goals, as well as earning a penalty in the dying minutes that was ignored by the young referee.
Another quibble is “Why Frei?” or more appropriately “Why Frei on the LEFT wing?” I’m not even certain he uses his left foot to stand on. Upon receiving the ball, the pacy youngster immediately cut inside and passed backwards time after time after time. In this way he contributed nothing to the attack, while simultaneously leaving his wing wide open for Rafael to venture forward. Since Riise already had his hands full with Valencia – for my money the best winger in the game right now – the added attacking threat of United’s Own Ninja Turtle meant that the Red Devils owned the left side of our defense for 90+ minutes. And this was even with Riise having a handy match.
Finally, we now have the answer to the musical question, “What does Pogrebnyak bring to the club aside from scoring goals?” The answer is “nothing.” He could not lay off or even control the ball with his back to goal and the only person on United’s payroll NOT to dispossess him in a one-on-one was Sir Alex Ferguson. I think it’s clear that Pavel’s the boy for a 4-4-2. I don’t know whether Jol’s 4-2-3-1 will be enough to drive him away from Fulham this summer, or whether it will ensure enough performances like this to make him unattractive to anyone but us.
Who looked good? Schwarzer for a start. He made some wonderful saves, and a couple of timely interventions. I didn’t see Hughes make any mistakes out there, and Kelly was superb – especially late in the game. Dembélé provided our only consistent attacking threat, and Dempsey and Ruiz caused more than a bit of concern. And, of course, there was Danny Murphy, who almost turned the game around single-handed. I wish I could say the the only thing that prevented us from earning a point was the Ref. The truth is, we only attacked about 20 minutes total across the entire match. We looked like the home club protecting a 1-0 lead right up to the point Murphy came on. [b]HatterDon’s Man of the Match [/b] [and I can hear the howls of rage already] [i]Steven Kelly[/i].
Next up is Norwich without Grant Holt, AT the Cottage. Certainly we’ll prevail there and get the last three points we’ll really need. Will we see Our Late President? I know Pog wishes we will. Will we AT LONG LAST see Frei on the right side? Who knows.