Fulham 1-3 Manchester United: Five lessons we learned

by Sam Peoples

Great win. After a decent start by Fulham, they were on the receiving end of a real pummelling in the first half. Lovely fluid football from Manchester United and a neat square ball from Wayne Rooney allowed Antonio Valencia to lash in from six yards to give us the lead.

United followed that up soon after with a brilliant second after great work from Adnan Januzaj to recover possession before he put Robin van Persie through on goal who made no mistake with a scorching finish. Then Van Persie turned provider only a few moments later to give Rooney a simple tap in.

It was the most dominant 45 of football United had played this season.

The second half saw United take their foot off the gas to invite Fulham forward. There were a few murmurs when Fulham got a deflected goal but in the end, it was a comfortable game for United after the blistering first half.

High press. I have said plenty of times this season but every time United adopt the high press tactic with the right midfielders, we reap the benefits.

Today, Phil Jones and Tom Cleverley started in midfield and were fantastic. Fulham offered little going forward so they didn’t have much responsibility to defend which allowed them to concentrate on hounding the player in possession but the high press doesn’t work with two players.

Everybody got involved. All of our attackers did their part in pressing high up the pitch and it didn’t allow Fulham any time on the ball. It took the pressure off our defence and allowed us to play to our strengths going forward.

The second half saw United adopt a deeper lying tactic and Fulham had more joy going forward but United had built up enough of a lead to see the game out comfortably. Moyes should use that tactic more often.

Link up play between Van Persie, Rooney and Januzaj. The highlight of the whole match has to be how well Rooney, Van Persie and Januzaj linked up in the first half.

Their passing was delectable, movement was intelligent and decision making spot on. They were all involved in some capacity in United’s three goals and Fulham couldn’t stop them no matter how hard they tried.

Once again, Januzaj in particular was brilliant not only for his passing but for his all round performance. He tracked back, got a few tackles in and hit fast on the counter when needed. One particular lung busting run saw him run from the edge of his own box to Fulham’s corner flag where he won himself a corner. He is 18, right?

Van Persie looked back to his best which indicates he may have overcome his groin and toe troubles while Rooney’s fine form continued.

Triple substitute risk. David Moyes put his neck on the line by introducing Marouane Fellaini, Shinji Kagawa and Chris Smalling coming on for Rafael, Evans and Cleverley.

Rafael and Cleverley both picked up knocks in the first half so it wasn’t a surprise to see either of them and Evans must have picked up an injury to be replaced by Moyes too.

It was a real risk but Moyes obviously felt that if any of them continued it could do more damage than good to both the team and the players themselves. In the end, it was a move that certainly led to a very different half of football where United were quite poor but it didn’t affect the result.

Seven games undefeated. It seems that the naysayers and pessimists have quietened down. Moyes Boyes have now not lost since the shock defeat to West Brom and have really put together a string of good results.

The start of the season was always going to be tough for United and we did struggle with such big games so early in the season but now that the team has played more football together, the results are starting to happen.

This is another big week with an away trip to Real Sociedad followed by Arsenal at Old Trafford in the league. Win those two and the optimism would sweep through the team like the right sort of infectious virus.

Image: Twitter/Futbool_fotos

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