Posted by: jowanderer | March 2, 2008

times online — 2 Mar 2008  

Manutd 3:0 Fulham

United’s rearranged side appeared to regard their rivals as beneath them. Rio Ferdinand didn’t seem to break sweat and if he did, it wasn’t from worry. His partner in central defence, Wes Brown, had a couple of daft moments, but what did it matter? Second place against second from bottom, it wasn’t a gap but a chasm.

There are bits and pieces to report, namely that reports of the strength of United’s squad are not exaggerated and neither are reports of Fulham’s possible departure from the Premier League. The home side played Roy Hodgson’s football, which was neat and based on the game’s best principles. They never resorted to kicking superior opponents and all they lacked was talent. “We must try to keep people’s heads up and attack these last 10 games, said Hodgson. “I am saddened, but not despondent. I thought we did reasonably well, and I would be interested to know how United saw our performance.” It would depend on how diplomatic they chose to be.

United are always worth watching and it was a pleasure to again witness Paul Scholes’s technical excellence and generous team play. There have been occasions this season when United’s little maestro has had to play second fiddle to Anderson but in this otherwise low-key match, he shone like a beacon. Not many midfielders play the pass at the precise moment his teammate wants it but Scholes does, always. He plays it simple most of the time but when the extravagant pass was the correct option, he let it go. He struck a free kick in the fifth minute that travelled 70 yards on to the chest of Louis Saha, creating a chance he blazed high and wide.

Perhaps the most engaging vignette of that final quarter was the home crowd’s displeasure with Nani, who they felt had dived after an innocuous challenge from Paul Konchesky. It may or may not have been a dive but what was interesting was the Portuguese’s calm refusal to be intimidated by the crowd and his silent indifference to Konchesky’s follow-up shoulder charge.

Plenty of character to complement wonderful technique, he will be with us for a long time to come.


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