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Positives and negatives: Manchester United 1-2 Fulham

Written by Cameron Ramsey on 25th February 2024

Alex Iwobi of Fulham celebrates scoring their second goal
Picture: Andrew Yates (Licenced via Imago Images)

Pinch yourself: it really happened. A grandstand finish is what they wanted and that is precisely what they got in the 97th minute. Cam’s in a state of shock with this one, two decades of anguish has led us to a monumental high we never want to come down from. Come on Fulham!


Super Eagles take flight!

Still fresh from their shared heartache at the Africa Cup of Nations, Calvin Bassey and Alex Iwobi were both named in Marco Silva’s starting XI and boy, did our resident Super Eagles take flight and swoop for the kill. Bassey was immovable at the back, he clipped a muzzle on Marcus Rashford and dragged him for walkies but at the other end of the pitch, at the second time of asking, the hefty centre-back answered our cries with immeasurable force and certitude. Pick. That. Out.

Unmarked, Calvin’s first attempt was blocked by an unknowing Timothy Castagne but instantaneously as the ball sat up for him on the rebound, he sledgehammered his left through the back of the ball and blasted it into the roof of the net. Boom. Andre Onana felt the shockwave, but he didn’t know anything about it. His first competitive goal for Fulham, CBass pumped up the volume as the away end went gaga and soon, it was his fellow Naija White that followed suit in “Fergie time”.

The Whites had been pegged back just before the 90th minute by a man that shouldn’t have even been there in the first place but we weren’t to fold, and it was Iwobi that spoiled the media’s scripted United love-in. As Adama Traore cooked a whopping slab of gammon on the right, he picked out Iwobi on the left and that is where the Hale End sensation wrote his name into Fulham folklore. Shift, strike, shitting hell, those SW6 shaggers have only gone and bloody done it and it was a finish for the cameras, quite literally.

Onana was on his haunches, Iwobi’s late, great winner sparked a behind the goal lens right on the kisser and the imagery will last a lifetime. Premier League Years could never. Of all the goals Iwobi’s scored in his career to date, this is without question his most iconic and for decades to come, come what may, he will go down as the man that secured an era-defining victory for Silva’s regime and now he and Bassey are back, even after suffering a major international defeat, they are still brothers in arms and they are Fulham’s darlings, always and forever.

Lukic and Reed ran the show

We must remember that this historic result came without Joao Palhinha’s world-class clamping antics. Harrison Reed and Sasa Lukic formed a partnership that worked without a hitch and they completely ran the show in the middle of the park, a non-stop collaborative effort that silenced Casemiro and United hotshot Kobbie Mainoo and that cannot go unnoticed or without a silly amount of praise and worship.

Reed is allegedly being monitored by Gareth Southgate, the England boss would’ve been keeping a very close eye on Saturday’s proceedings with both Harrison and Mainoo battling it out and our Ginger Iniesta, in every sense, was absolutely superior to the Red Devils’ admittedly impressive youngster. Reed, as ever, was everywhere and he didn’t miss a beat, even with a whopping lump on the side of his bonce. Concussed or not, Harrison supported his teammates defensively and he also initiated our offensive press alongside Andreas Pereira (who was also brilliant) and Rodrigo Muniz.

He sought out space to drop into and retrieve possession, he isn’t a midfield visionary but he is hugely disciplined with his distribution and he glued it all together, from back to front, with an energy that was everlasting. Beside him, Lukic stepped up to the challenge and didn’t really put a foot wrong, even if a certain tub of tosser wanted to crush one out of stupidity and anger.

A bit-part player under Silva, Lukic hasn’t really hit those Torino heights since joining the Whites a year-and-a-smidge ago although on the February 24th, 2024, the rotational option spun things at the top of his game and though he isn’t always the first name on the team sheet – and with good reason – he really, really understood the assignment.

He was calm and measured with the ball, he’s accused of being a little too sedate with his work-rate and movement but once he warmed to the occasion, he upheld a competitive edge that was too hot for United’s equivalents to handle. He actually sprung out of a gentle jog into a brisk scurry! And even that was enough to offset the hosts’ chubby/inexperienced duo.

This is a paring that clocked-up mileage, it was balanced, workmanlike, and while isn’t a double pivot blessed with breakneck incision and productivity, it got the job done to a lionizing standard against all odds and it proves that when fringe players are called upon, they are willing and able to put the hard yards in for the betterment of our football club. Well played, chaps!

Muniz deserves Selecao shout

Believe it, read it and gulp in bewilderment, Rodrigo Muniz is supposedly on the cusp of an international call-up to Brazil’s senior set-up and while he didn’t find the back of the net this week, the reborn striker looks like a seasoned Selecao specialist and yet again, I am gobsmacked. Casemiro recognised greatness at full-time as he swapped shirts with his compatriot and if that isn’t an endorsement, I don’t know what is.

Knockdowns, give-and-goes, shouldering bodies and rattling uprights, Muniz wasn’t distracted by the false grandeur of Old Trafford and if Dorival Junior is genuinely considering the 22-year-old for his latest roster, he’ll be wise to take stock of Rodrigo’s behaviour against central defenders that have competed at the pinnacle of the modern game for years and years for club and indeed country.

Muniz’s hero arc has been such a joy to behold. All power to him, it seems he’s finally twigged his purpose and defenders will have to do their homework from now on, because our smiling Samba White isn’t to be shrugged off anymore. Victor Lindelof was made an example of as Rodrigo death rolled him before he assaulted the goal frame, Raphael Varane was rag dolled in physical duels, Money Muniz is all about good vibes only, on his terms, and if he can do it in black and white, he can bloody well do it in dark blue and canary yellow.

Fulham were utterly imperious

We’ve fawned over individual displays but really, this is a result won by the collective, the whole, and it is a matchday that epitomises what Silva is ultimately trying to achieve with the group of players he has at his disposal. To a man, Fulham were utterly imperious and they humbled one of the division’s in-form juggernauts in there own back yard, before 70-odd thousand spectators that couldn’t wrap their heads around it.

We created multiple clear-cut chances, we established the game’s tempo and defensively, while United eventually levelled things up, we limited the hosts’ success in front of the target. Every single participant was motivated, United were without a host of first-team regulars but they still had a wealth of talent to repress and for 99 minutes, the Whites completely overpowered the Reds.

Pereira purred on the offensive, Castagne was first to loose balls and virtually every switch United slung towards the right-hand side of our penalty area, there wasn’t a single player accredited to Marco’s camp that dropped a stinker and with that, while a few stand-out performers have been identified, Fulham, as one, is the side that are fetching rave reviews when nobody gave them a slim hope in hell.

It wasn’t a scrappy, turbulent victory on the road. Fulham were in the ascendency from start to finish, no game is every truly one-sided but we didn’t down tools as they equalised, we didn’t curse ourselves for failing to capitalise earlier than we did, we left it all out on the turf, focused and determined to put a stop to an 18-game winless streak against United and we did so with style and pride. That is worth shouting about.


Maguire should’ve walked

They’re not even trying to pretend anymore, are they? The PGMOL are unbelievably blinkered, VAR isn’t applicable if your team’s name doesn’t include ‘City’, ‘pool’ or ‘United’ and Michael Oliver is a throbbing helmet. How Harry Maguire remained on the pitch past the 36th minute minute is beyond us all. Don’t listen to Ian Wright and Micah Richards, they’re chatting out their arses as per.

If Lukic had steamed into Maguire as the lumbering United defender did, the Serb would’ve been given his marching orders within seconds of contact but typically, those at Stockley Park must’ve been conveniently dunking the teabag at that particular moment because somehow, a yellow is all the England international received and that is downright disgusting. There’s a bias in football when it comes to these decisions and it’s sickeningly obvious.

Maguire was late, nowhere near the ball as it was cleared by Lukic and even with plenty of time to pull out, he chose to stomp his studded flippers onto Sasa’s planted foot and you can guarantee he knew exactly what he was doing the moment he targeted our man. It was planned and prepared, he wanted to leave his mark on Lukic and retrospectively, with clear evidence to hand, he should’ve been dismissed and the very fact he wasn’t aluminates the officials’ unmistakable favouritism and it is there for all to see, in plain sight, and it is never going to change. Shameless shirkers, the lot of ’em.

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