Red alert for Fergie

20 March 2009 03:43
Fulham 2-0 Man UtdSoccer Saturday analysis

Two defeats in a week, two men sent off and a 2-0 defeat at Craven Cottage. Charlie Nicholas warned of troubled times for Manchester United.

The reigning Premier League champions had an afternoon to forget down by the Thames were they were sunk by goals in either half from Danny Murphy and Zoltan Gera.

But the misery did not end there, little over a week after they were mauled at home by arch rivals Liverpool - who can move to within a point with victory over Aston Villa on Sunday.

Both Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney were dismissed and will join Nemanja Vidic on the suspension list for the game with Aston Villa in two weeks' time, while Dimitar Berbatove was forced off with an injury.

And those facts, as much as the defeat itself, should have alarm bells ringing around Old Trafford, says Nicholas.

"That's two defeats and you're thinking 'can they handle the pressure?'," he told Soccer Saturday.

"The answer would have to be yes, they can, but Scholes is now suspended, Rooney and Vidic suspended, there's problems with Berbatov being injured - these are troubled times.

Defensively"Sir Alex Ferguson has got a big, big week ahead of him.

"He will say they gave the ball away but he won't be happy they never got Berbatov or Ronaldo on the ball in the first half. Then they were down to 10 men, which didn't help, but they were still getting stretched all over the place defensively.

"It's not that they were playing badly, they just didn't get their passing going and if they don't get their passing going they can't get going in attack. It was a massive result for the league but I tell you what; don't take too much away from Fulham - they were excellent.

"There was no fluke about this. Fulham played well and were the better of the two sides. United just never got their passing going at all."

Nicholas also believes that United can have few complaints about the events that unfolded.

But he did admit that the two red cards, Scholes for handball on the line and Rooney for two bookings - the second throwing the ball back for a re-taken free-kick - came at just the wrong time.

"There were 18 minutes gone and they were under the cosh a little bit, with Zamora and Andy Johnson giving them a tough time and the midfield good for Fulham, but the red card to Paul Scholes - there was no debate," he said.

Fantastic"It was a good header from Hangeland a good save from Van Der Sar but Zamora just nods it back and Scholes can't do anything; he just puts his hands up and blocks it. It was a red card and a fantastic penalty from Danny Murphy.

"Man United never really recovered, even though they put them under pressure for long periods of the second half.

"But then Rooney came on and livened the whole thing up. Man United just about knocked the door down but for Mark Schwarzer; it was a fantastic goalkeeping display from him, but Fulham were rocking.

"Man United looked then like it would be possible that they could even go on and win the game, but as they gambled and were throwing everything at them it was Zoltan Gera who got the decisive goal on the counter attack."

"Rooney was fuming, he was furious (when he got sent off), but taking nothing away from Fulham.

"The news will be all about Man United, all about Rooney's red card and Scholes' red card, but Fulham were very, very good today."

Source: SKY_Sports