Preview: United v Fulham

Another FA Cup tie; another fixture on live TV. Such is the appeal of the world’s most popular club that it is the 37th occasion in a row that Sir Alex Ferguson’s men have been selected by the nation’s broadcasters to front Cup coverage – a run that dates back to January 2005.

Saturday evening brings Fulham to Old Trafford, and with Martin Jol’s team comes a former Red – striker Dimitar Berbatov. There will hardly be a dry eye in the house. Except, of course, for those Reds who didn’t take to the Bulgarian during four years in Manchester.

Jol’s side arrives under pressure in the Premier Leauge, although Berbatov has already become a popular figure at Craven Cottage, scoring seven goals in 20 appearances to date. Now just five points off the relegation zone, the Cup represents a distraction for the Londonders – welcome, or not. Indeed, Jol may make rotate his squad for the trip north; there are certainly greater priorities in west London.

The same could be said of Ferguson’s side too, of course, although there appears to be a renewed appetite to secure a 12th FA Cup this season after almost a decade without lifting the old trophy. Replay victory over West Ham United at Old Trafford in the third round has afforded the Reds another home tie and an excellent opportunity to progress.

That only Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes have secured the FA Cup among the current squad says much, not only for United’s priorities in the past decade, but a series of tough draws against Premier League opposition. The hat has been no kinder in the current season, then, but there is perhaps a renewed focus on the 150-year-old tournament.

“The boss has given a big message this season – he really wants to win the FA Cup,” defender Patrice Evra told United Review.

“He really wants it and so do we. It is the only trophy that I have not won at Manchester United. That seems impossible given that I am now in my seventh year here. The FA Cup means so much and, one day, I hope I will win it. Hopefully this year.”

Manchester United v Fulham - FA Cup, Old Trafford - 5.30pm 26 January 2013If Ferguson’s team is to progress it will do so without Jonny Evans and Ashley Young, but there is a healthy outlook to the squad after four days warm weather training in Qatar over the past week.

The Scot may still use the tie to rest key players, with the double-header against Real Madrid in the Champions League coming up next month, but Ferguson’s should be a strong side at Old Trafford on Saturday night.

“We had a good week training in Qatar and it was a great time to go there – we couldn’t have picked a better moment actually when you consider the weather we’ve had here,” said Ferguson.

“So it’s worked out very well for us and hopefully we get the benefit from that. It was always the plan at some stage to do that this January. It couldn’t have worked out better for us.

“Jonny Evans and Ashley Young are still not 100% fit. Ashley Young is not far away. He trained a bit in Qatar. Jonny is just taking a bit longer than we thought. But he did a bit of training in Qatar.  The bonus for us, of course, is that Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are both back.”

Ferguson may opt to rest 22-goal Robin van Persie, although Wayne Rooney, Shinji Kagawa, Javier Hernández and Nani could all do with minutes against the Cottagers. While veteran Rio Ferdinand is likely to be rested, with a match against Southampton in the Premier League on Wednesday evening.

Under-fire goalkeeper David de Gea may start despite Anders Lindegaard’s appearance in the third round replay against West Ham. On Friday Ferguson labelled critics of the young Spainiard “idiots,” with Alan Hansen and Gary Neville among a plethora of high-profile pundits to jump on a very public bandwagon.

Saturday’s will be a another test for the 22-year-old ‘keeper, who has grown in confidence this season, but – as evidenced against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend – can still struggle under the high ball. Fortunate, then, that Fulham’s is rarely a direct approach.

Yet, all eyes will be on Berbatov, who scored 56 goals in 149 appearances during four largely frustrating years in Manchester. Acquired for more than £30 million, Berbatov won many friends with a sublime first touch and moments of unrivalled skill, but drew ire for a seemingly complacent attitude and an inability to deliver on the biggest occasions.

Despite the perceived low return on United’s heavy investment Ferguson remains supportive of the 31-year-old Bulgarian, who moved south for around £2 million last summer.

“I don’t think Dimitar was a failure here,” said Ferguson. “Some people like to see players run through brick walls all the time. Dimitar is not that type of player, but he is very talented player and he had a decent goalscoring record here.

“The problem for him here was the way we wanted to play and the selections I had to make. When you have choices you hope to make the right one. Javier Hernández had a fantastic first season with us and as time went on he became a more regular player than Dimitar.”

Berabtov will start despite Fulham’s recent troubles in the Premier League, which ensure Wednesday’s fixture with West Ham remains a priority. Meanwhile, former Red Kieran Richardson misses the game against his old club with a calf injury, while winger Kerim Frei and midfielder Mahamadou Diarra did not travel.

The visitors predicament means that Ferguson’s side remains strong favourites for the tie. After all, United has beaten Fulham on 46 of the 78 occasions these two side have met, including a 3-2 victory in the Premier League last August. In eight previous FA Cup fixtures between the clubs, United has triumphed on seven occasions, including a 4-0 victory at Craven Cottage in 2009.

“We haven’t done as well in the FA Cup for a few years now,” admits Ferguson. “It’s a cup which has fantastic appeal given our record in it. We have benefit of the home draw. We’ll take that any time. It’s going to be a challenge for us but we would play anyone at the moment.”

That statement may be disingenuous given United’s tough draws over the past five years, but supporters will care little so long as United remains in the fifth round draw on Saturday evening.

Match Details
Manchester United v Fulham – FA Cup, Old Trafford – 5.30pm 26 January 2013

Possible teams
United (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Rafael, Jones, Smalling, Büttner; Anderson, Cleverley; Nani, Rooney, Kagawa; Hernández. Subs from: Lindegaard, Ferdinand, Vidić, Evra, Scholes, Carrick, Powell, Valencia, Giggs, Welbeck, van Persie

Fulham (4-5-1): Schwarzer; Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Briggs; Dejagah, Ruiz, Sidwell, Karagounis, Duff; Berbatov. Subs from: Etheridge, Senderos, Baird, Kacaniklic, Petric, Rodallega

Officials
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Assistant Referees: David Bryan, Peter Bankes
Fourth Official: Michael Jones

Form
United: WWDWWD
Fulham: LWDDWL

Head to Head
Last 10: United 7, Fulham 2, Draw 1
Overall: United 46, Fulham 14, Draw 18

Prediction
3-1

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Comments

  1. han says

    i thought berb’s fee was 5 million Ed? still, fulham got a bargain – definitely our loss being their gain – hope he plays a blinder (but still ends up on the losing side)

  2. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Start Rooney, Kagawa, Nani, Buttnutts, Powell, they need game time badly… give Rafa, Van Persie, Evra the day off, they need resting.

  3. AnantaxAnantax says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Start Rooney, Kagawa, Nani, Buttnutts, Powell, they need game time badly… give Rafa, Van Persie, Evra the day off, they need resting.

    Agree

    Winning Cup needs to be a serious target yet league must remain priority. Field a strong team but rest the key people

    I would actually love to see Jones Smalling again in centre….see if they perform as well..

  4. Dean Jackson says

    I’d love to see that back line. I thought they did brilliant against West Ham. Looking forward to today’s game… finger’s crossed for Nani turning up. Hopefully we’ll be comfortable enough to see Powell make an appearance.

  5. marlon says

    DDG
    Rafael Smalling Jones Evra
    Nani Carrick Anderson Giggs
    Rooney Hernandez

    Lindegaard Rio Valencia Scholes Kagawa Welbeck RVP

  6. SpudiatorSpudiator says

    It’s as well Fulham are playing so shit and making it so easily for us, otherwise I do think Nani’s faffing and selfish play could’ve cost us.

  7. AnantaxAnantax says

    Couldnt watch the game. Happy to hear the great result and that Rooney and Chico scored

    Were we good or were Fulham shite? How was Jones Smalling? How was Nani?

  8. Sidsidney says

    brianofnazareth said:
    I missed it…please supply me with it. ta

    I can’t find it

    Basically the ball falls out of the sky and he sticks out a leg, backwards, without looking, and passes it to a teammate. Masterful.

    He’s played well in a couple of FA Cup games now. Maybe the Prem is too much for him nowadays, and the slower FA Cup games suit him more.

  9. sheesh says

    Giggs was man of the match tonight.

    He was a constant threat and made some intelligent passes.

    We were good (probably could have scored seven or eight goals) but were helped by the fact that Fulham had turned up to make the numbers. I hope they’re just as bad next weekend as they were tonight because they normally give us a game at their place.

  10. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Giggs was man of the match, because Fulham were shocking… if not for Schwarzer, it could have 6/7/8-1…

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  11. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Giggs was man of the match, because Fulham were shocking… if not for Schwarzer, it could have been 6/7/8-1…

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  12. baloobaloo says

    sidney said:
    I can’t find it

    Basically the ball falls out of the sky and he sticks out a leg, backwards, without looking, and passes it to a teammate. Masterful.

    He’s played well in a couple of FA Cup games now. Maybe the Prem is too much for him nowadays, and the slower FA Cup games suit him more.

    Sid, something you (and others) might be interested in – http://beautifullyred.co.uk/. He creates 5 .gifs after each united game of the best moments. The Fulham game isn’t up yet, but it will be soon and it’s pretty much guaranteed that the Giggs pass will be one of them.

  13. Mongoletsi says

    Has this been on TV since? Watched ITV last night and either I was so leathered I missed it (possible) or we weren’t on. Few things I want to see on screen.

  14. Sidsidney says

    It says United are the most valuable sports team in the world at $3.3 billion. The Dallas Cowboys are in second place at $2.1 billion. That’s a fucking massive difference.
    These are the glory days. It can’t carry on like this, surely. Something has got to give, like when Fergie leaves.

  15. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Nah Sid… the Glazers have well and truly whored out United like never before, and most of it’s corporarte money… as long as we’re a big name, we’ll be a big draw… that hurts bad enough, but the fact that we’ll never get rid of them, while they’re raking it in like this… that’s what really sucks… the anti-Glazer sentiment is still there, but there just isn’t the fan will power to make a determined stand.

  16. AnantaxAnantax says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Nah Sid… the Glazers have well and truly whored out United like never before, and most of it’s corporarte money… as long as we’re a big name, we’ll be a big draw… that hurts bad enough, but the fact that we’ll never get rid of them, while they’re raking it in like this… that’s what really sucks… the anti-Glazer sentiment is still there, but there just isn’t the fan will power to make a determined stand.

    I would prefer to see the silver lining…

    The better the valuation gets, the more LIKELY it is that the Glazers will exit, at some point in time….At the end they are businessmen, and they will have to take their profits at some point….

  17. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Why???
    As long as United pays them a yearly wedge, and the value keeps rising… why stop?
    It’s not like they’ve got much of their own cash tied up in it… this has got be one of the all time great scams… £300mill invested into a project now worth 10 times that amount…
    As the Eastern markets get richer, the United brand will continue to grow… 10 years from now, I bet it’ll be worth 5 billion.

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  18. AnantaxAnantax says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Why???

    As long as United pays them a yearly wedge, and the value keeps rising… why stop?

    It’s not like they’ve got much of their own cash tied up in it… this has got be one of the all time great scams… £300mill invested into a project now worth 10 times that amount…

    As the Eastern markets get richer, the United brand will continue to grow… 10 years from now, I bet it’ll be worth 5 billion.

    Actually its a pretty standard PE-type deal….minimal equity maximum leverage then transfer all the debt to the acquired company…

    As for why sell…they will for either of two reasons

    They believe the price has peaked
    They believe they can put the same money for better use

    I am not saying they’ll sell anytime soon…it maybe years away…..but I think they eventually will. Whether they’ll sell enough to relinquish control is another question, but Again I suspect they eventually will….

    If I were them though, I would very seriously consider selling down a lot of my stake before Fergie retires…a manager change would surely put some pressure on prices….

  19. han says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Why???

    As long as United pays them a yearly wedge, and the value keeps rising… why stop?

    It’s not like they’ve got much of their own cash tied up in it… this has got be one of the all time great scams… £300mill invested into a project now worth 10 times that amount…

    As the Eastern markets get richer, the United brand will continue to grow… 10 years from now, I bet it’ll be worth 5 billion.

    not if we end up potless for a decade

  20. Just1n says

    han said:
    yes
    and i shall continue to be on here
    you’ll miss me far too much

    i’m hardly on here these days. What you do to piss off the knobcock?

  21. han says

    Just1n said:
    i’m hardly on here these days. What you do to piss off the knobcock?

    it’s a long story
    involves a bulgarian, an ecuadorian, a monkey and a sheep shagging boyo from the hills
    not to mention a bitter twisted and knobless cyber bully
    apart from that, it’s all love and peace….

  22. captainhormonecaptainhormone says

    han said:
    it’s a long story
    involves a bulgarian, an ecuadorian, a monkey and a sheep shagging boyo from the hills
    not to mention a bitter twisted and knobless cyber bully

    apart from that, it’s all love and peace….

    Backdafukup…. There’s only one cyber bully on rant and that you…since this new site you’ve had it in for unc all the time

    People in lass houses shouldn’t throw cunt!!

  23. han says

    captainhormone said:
    Backdafukup…. There’s only one cyber bully on rant and that you…since this new site you’ve had it in for unc all the time
    People in lass houses shouldn’t throw cunt!!

    actually i won’t agree if you don’t mind
    read the posts going back 2 years and this started because i didn’t agree with your boyfriend’s sniping of berbatov
    so cap – no axe to grind with u but if we must back the fuck up, state the facts and not what your uncle has told u

  24. Denton Davey says

    Alfonso Bedoya @ 2:25: “this has got be one of the all time great scams… £300mill invested into a project now worth 10 times that amount…
    As the Eastern markets get richer, the United brand will continue to grow… 10 years from now, I bet it’ll be worth 5 billion.”

    An “all time great scam” or canny investment strategy ? The answer to that question depends on your politics. Without a shadow of a doubt, today unbridled capitalism is in the saddle and rides men – and MUFC.

    BUT, as bad as the Glazers might be, they are pikers compared to Louis and Martin Edwards – just like the LIttlewoods’ guys at LiverpoolFC – those guys made out like bandits.

    I’d like the on-field team to be made up of eleven lads from Manchester – not just a couple of geezers and one kid who is fourth-choice at his position. However, it’s a world-game and MUFCs on-field team-sheet reflects that reality, too.

  25. Pikey McScumPikey McScum says

    I’m curious what your nickname for Zaha will be?

    Kagawabunga is the most retarded thing I’ve ever read, and proof that you were dropped on your head as a baby, but I’m willing to bet you can top it…

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