Fulham 2 Manchester United 0: Petulant pair fail to help Fergie's title cause

23 March 2009 01:58
There will be no need for the bright sparks in the sports technology department to churn out more statistics for Sir Alex Ferguson this morning.

This time, the evidence is right in front of him.

Last week the Manchester United

Brainiacs were ordered to calculate the gross transfer spend at Old Trafford and Liverpool

. They reached the inevitable conclusion that Rafael Benitez had spent a wheelbarrow-load more than his rival since 2004.

Spot on: Danny Murphy rolls in Fulham's opener from 12-yards as the former Liverpool midfielder capitalises on Paul Scholes' dismissal

Yesterday, the technicians did not have to point out the obvious -that three, possibly four, players will miss United's clash with AstonVilla

in the Barclays Premier League on April 5 through suspension orinjury.

Nemanja Vidic, Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney will be inthe stands, possibly joined by Dimitar Berbatov, who left CravenCottage on Saturday with his right ankle in a cast.

 Rooney fears longer FA ban after Fulham outburst

Berbatov to miss World Cup qualifiers as ankle injury rules him out for two weeks

Fulham 2 Manchester United 0: How the action unfolded



BulgarianBerbatov will definitely miss his country's forthcoming World Cupqualifiers against Cyprus and Republic of Ireland after aggravating anold injury with a muscle tear.

Cristiano Ronaldo may as welljoin them given that the World Player of the Year took it easy for 90minutes, performing as if he is doing his side a favour just by turningout. This was United at their worst, finishing the game with nine menfor the first time since Gary Neville and Scholes were sent off atGoodison Park in 2005. Phil Dowd was the referee then, too.

Therewas alarm in Sir Alex Ferguson's voice after another defeat, the firsttime they have lost back-toback in the league since Norwich and Everton

beat them in successive games nearly five years ago.

'When you lose games in March or April it can cost you,' said the rattled manager.

Head over heels: Super-sub Zoltan Gera scores a spectacular second for Fulham, putting the game out of touch for league leaders United

'Fortunately, we have a slender lead, but it's not a lot. The home game with Aston Villa is absolutely crucial.'

Littlewonder United's website slapped the headline 'It's squeaky bum time' ontheir home page following the 4-1 thumping by Liverpool.

Twoweeks ago United were coasting to their 11th Premier League title, withEdwin van der Sar setting records for successive clean sheets andstrikers sharing out the goals.

Suddenly they are on the slide,perfectly illustrated by Rooney, who bowled the ball fiercely backtowards the referee in the 89th minute to earn a second booking. Hethen knocked over a corner flag. Silly boy.


victorysurpassed their 1-0 win over Arsenal

last August and provided managerRoy Hodgson with the perfect response after a 4-0 mauling by United inthe FA Cup. They tore into the champions, unsettling them in theopening 15 minutes and this time it threw up a vastly different result.

Red mist: furious Wayne Rooney (right) points at referee Phil Dowd after being ordered off while Ferdinand remonstrates with the official

'We played as well as I've seen us play against a top team in the first half,' said Hodgson.

'Westarted well in the Cup game, but when they scored one from a cornerand a second from a wonder goal, people say, "Oh, you're not at theraces" or "You're hopeless and outplayed". The game is all about themoment. This time we got the goal our play deserved.'

Theirtask was helped when Scholes, one of five changes, was dismissed after17 minutes for handling a Bobby Zamora header on the line.

DannyMurphy scored the resultant penalty, having promised pals StevenGerrard and Jamie Carragher that Fulham could turn United over.

Fergusonbrought on Rooney to replace injured Berbatov as United prodded andprobed their way back into the game. Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer wasoutstanding, as he had to be. He kept out a header from Ronaldo, thewinger's only positive contribution, an effort from Ji-sung Park andthe follow-up from Rooney.

Hands up: Paul Scholes denies Bobby Zamora with a handball that earns the veteran United midfielder an early bath and gifts Fulham a first half penalty

By then United were playing 3-3-3,but conceded again when sub Zoltan Gera converted Andrew Johnson'scross with a well-taken volley.

Referring to the Rooney redcard, Ferguson said: 'The first incident was close to the referee so hecould easily have not given it, but it's Phil Dowd so what do youexpect?

NUMBERS GAME13 - points was the size of Manchester United's lead which they let slip when Arsenal overtook them to win the title in 1998.

198 - games since Wayne Rooney was last sent off in the Premier League. That was on Boxing Day 2002 when he was then an Everton player.

45 - years since Manchester United lost at Craven Cottage in a league match before Saturday's surprise defeat.

8 - times that 34-year-old United midfielder Paul Scholes has been shown a red card during his playing career.

'With the second, I have to ask whether Rooney threwthe ball at the referee.

'It was thrown to where the free kick was beingtaken and did it hit the referee? No. Was it thrown in anger? Yes. Hewanted the game hurried up so he threw it with pace to get the gamegoing.'

By that time United were a spent force, something even the number crunchers could have told him.


FULHAM (4-4-2):Schwarzer 8; Pantsil 7, Hughes 7, Hangeland 8, Konchesky 7; Davies 7,Murphy 8 (Dacourt 67min, 6), Etuhu 7, Dempsey 8 (Gera 82); Johnson 7,Zamora 7 (Kamara 77). Booked: Dempsey, Pantsil.

MANCHESTER UNITED(4-4-2): Van der Sar 6; O'Shea 6 (Tevez 70, 5), Evans 6, Ferdinand 6,Evra 5; Fletcher 6, Scholes 4, Giggs 6, Park 5; Berbatov 4 (Rooney 46,3), Ronaldo 5. Booked: Evans, Evra, Ronaldo, Rooney. Sent off: Scholes, Rooney.

Man of the match: Danny Murphy. Referee: Phil Dowd.

 Rooney fears longer FA ban after Fulham outburst

Berbatov to miss World Cup qualifiers as ankle injury rules him out for two weeks

Fulham 2 Manchester United 0: How the action unfolded




Source: Daily_Mail