Remembering when David Moyes' Man Utd attempted a ridiculous 81 crosses against Fulham

09 February 2021 02:15

Right, so you know tactics? Looking at an opponent's strength and weaknesses to decide how to approach a game?

When you see a centre-back who stands at 6'7 lining up against you, what is the one thing that should be immediately crossed off your to-do list?

Try 81 crosses!

Moyes' side lacked creativity from the first minute | Michael Regan/Getty Images

For some reason, David Moyes welcomed 20th-placed Fulham to Old Trafford on February 9, 2014 without any real game plan. In search of a third consecutive home win, which would have helped them close the gap to the top four, Manchester United bottled it in the most boring way possible.

Instead of trying to pass their way through the Premier League's bottom side and rely on the brilliance of Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Michael Carrick to steer them to victory, they chose to go full Sunday League and pump in cross after cross.

Crossing isn't always the worst tactic. Sometimes you've just got to get the ball in the box and hope for the best, but there was so much wrong with United's strategy here.

For starters, Dan Burn is literally 6'7. He was 21 at the time and had just three league appearances for Fulham to his name, and he will have been absolutely terrified at the idea of trying to contain Rooney, Van Persie et al. He knew he didn't have their quality. How was he ever supposed to deal with the man who had won back-to-back Golden Boot awards?

Burn was happy to deal with it all | ANDREW YATES/Getty Images

What he did have, however, was a 6'7 frame that was perfect for nodding away cross after cross. You don't need to be a trained scout to work out that banking on winning the aerial battle against a man who looks like he'd be more at home in the NBA isn't a smart move.

Nevertheless, that's the technique United went for. 81 times. Only 18 were successful. Burn himself cleared 22.

"I've never headed that many balls since the Conference," he said (via Manchester Evening News). "We knew that was going to happen and I was happy for them to play like that.
I'm 6'7. It helps when dealing with those sort of balls."

Fulham gobbled it all up | Michael Regan/Getty Images

What made it all the more ridiculous was that Moyes' United simply didn't learn. Let's pretend they didn't notice the man asking Jack for his golden goose back in the penalty area - why would you do something 81 times when it wasn't working?

The approach saw them fall 1-0 down to Steve Sidwell's strike in the 19th minute, and it took United 78 minutes to actually respond.

Van Persie poked home from close range to give United the equaliser they were aimlessly looking for, and they thought they had won it just two minutes later when Carrick curled home a beauty from long range, but the fun wasn't over.

Fulham snatched a late equaliser | ANDREW YATES/Getty Images

Moyes' United, who had looked shaky at the back all day, ended up conceding a 95th-minute header to Darren Bent to ensure Fulham avoided defeat at Old Trafford for just the second time in 51 years.

Unsurprisingly, Moyes only managed two more months in charge of United before being relieved of his duties. While this wasn't the worst result of his ten-month tenure, it was one of the most embarrassing.


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Source: 90min