At this stage of the season, I’m not too bothered how we score or how we get the points, just as long as we do. Obviously it would be easier on our hearts if we could grab two goals in the first ten minutes every week but that would be too good to be true.
Today we didn’t have to settle for scrappy goals or scrape a win. Instead, we played quality football from start to finish and after creating plenty of chances, were finally rewarded for our patience.
United had several great opportunities to score in the first half but weren’t clinical enough. Dimitar Berbatov saw a headed chance go over the bar after a good ball in from Nani, before Wayne Rooney forced a good save from Mark Schwarzer. Rooney then wanted a penalty after his shot was deflected in to the raised arm of a defender in the box but the referee wasn’t interested.
Fulham gave us a warning of what could happen if their long balls paid off though, with Bobby Zamora getting on the end of a pass that went high over the heads of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. Of course, this is Zamora, so he fired miles over the bar.
It didn’t feel as though it was going to be ‘one of those days’ though, despite our frustrations at not being able to break the deadlock, so it didn’t come as a surprise that we came racing out of the blocks in the second half and were a goal up after 28 seconds.
Berbatov flicked the ball on to Rooney, who played it wide to Nani, who put in a perfect cross to gift Rooney with a tap in. It was a relief as much as anything. You need to get the first one out of the way before the rest can pour in, right? But we were made to wait.
Nani had the opportunity to smash the ball goalwards but it bounced too high. Rooney kept the move alive but Schwarzer did about everything possible to keep the ball out, throwing his weight all over the place.
Then it was heart in mouth time for us, as Vidic left what should have been a harmless ball roll past him and let Zamora in. It was one of those moments where your stomach tells you that your team are about to concede. But Zamora bottled it, not content with just a one on one with the keeper, but wanting to edge closer, which allowed time for Vidic to get back at him. It was a superb tackle from Vidic and for me, was a stark reminder of how costly our missing defence has been. Jonny Evans or Wes Brown, as much as I like them, would not have won the ball in that situation.
So then came another chance to wrap it up, this time Park crossing from the left but Berbatov again saw his header go painfully close. He clearly hasn’t been doing the same heading training as Rooney, although he was showing signs of working on tracking back and putting in a tackle, which should be welcomed by Berbalovers and Berbahaters alike.
Darren Fletcher then looked to be the man to give us the all important 2-0 lead, but Schwarzer made yet another great save to deny the Scot as he struck from just inside the box.
But finally, our much needed second goal came, thanks to some brilliant skill from Berbatov which showed him at his finest. Firstly, he plucked a 40-yard-ball out of the air and killed it dead first time. Then he squeezed between two opponents, kicking the ball one side and running the other, beating them both for pace. Then finally he pulled the ball back perfectly to Rooney for his second of the game. Whilst not a difficult effort for someone of Rooney’s ability, he did still have to get the ball past two defenders and place it right in the corner to get it far enough away from Schwarzer.
Then to make sure the score reflected our dominance, Berbatov popped up for our third. Rooney played a great ball out wide on the right to Park who crossed it well in to the box. Berbatov dived in to the path of the ball to head in to the back of the net.
There were phoney group hugs or rehearsed celebrations, our players just looked happy. Nani wrapped his arm around Berbatov’s neck before the rest of the team joined in the celebration, with some back slapping for Park too.
Of course all fans see their team through rose tinted glasses but there looks to be a good feeling amongst our lads. They know exactly what is required of them to get this title won and seem totally focussed on going out and getting that done. The 4-0 thrashing of Milan was almost water off a duck’s back as they look to win our fourth consecutive title.
I’ve heard in plenty of interviews from this current bunch how they’re always driven to win more trophies and that is great to hear. They want this title and I have the full belief they will achieve it.