1. United got the three points they deserved in what was a great game to watch at Craven Cottage. The first half in particular was end to end and by the time the final whistle went the woodwork had been hit almost ten times between both sides. It wasn’t the walk in the park we’d enjoyed in the FA Cup a couple of weeks earlier, with United not even looking like they were even really trying when they beat Fulham 4-1 at Old Trafford, but it was the result we wanted. Going ten points clear, which has been reduced to a still impressive nine today, is brilliant, and the first time we’ve managed it since 2000-2001, when we eventually finished ten points clear of Arsenal to win the league.
2. With plenty of talk about United being a one-man team, Wayne Rooney stepped up to the plate to win us another game, scoring his 10th goal in as many games. He tends to go through phases of scoring, before a barren patch, so let’s hope this one lasts as long as possible. With Van Persie not as sharp in front of goal in the past few weeks, it’s great timing for Rooney to start scoring for fun. Now that he’s not on penalty duty, a sacrifice Rooney admirably made himself for the sake of the team, you imagine we’ll be scoring even more goals. There was something very Ronaldo circa 2007 about the goal, not just because of the opposition or location, but because of how the goal was actually scored, as well as the importance it had on that year’s title race. With City dropping points in both games this week, and United winning both of theirs, we’re in a great position. It’s important to remember that Rooney scored all of our goals in both these wins, marking what could be a crucial week in the title race.
3. Whilst Van Persie hasn’t scored for a couple of games, as United welcomed pressure from Fulham as the clock was ticking down towards the end, our Dutchman was on the line to head clear. That is what has been noticeable in plenty of our games this season. We’re working as a team. Ferguson claimed Southampton was our one lucky game this season, I’d argue we’ve been lucky on plenty of occasions, but the point is all the lads are chipping in and doing what they can to get us the three points. Whether it be the impressive number of assists Evra has picked up, players like Jones, Kagawa and Welbeck regularly playing out of position, or Chicharito biding his time on the bench despite a great scoring record that would allow him to start for most clubs in Europe. Aside from anything else, this work ethic and ‘all in it together’ attitude is what is setting us apart from the rest at the moment.
4. David de Gea pulled off some great saves which, unsurprisingly, haven’t received the credit they deserve in the press, but made all the difference to our result. He is so agile and makes saves you wouldn’t expect any keeper to make. He was rewarded with his name being sung on repeat and a “In David We Trust” Spain flag. It’s good to see the vast majority of fans are still giving him support as that is what will help make the difference to his performances. He won’t be reading what some knob at The Mirror has to say about him, but he will pick up on the mood of the fans, so it’s important for him to get our backing.
5. Whilst De Gea can take credit for some of the top saves, the defence in general should be applauded, particularly Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand. Some of the blocks and tackles they put in against Fulham were top notch. Evans has missed a few games and was a bit rusty at times, but put his foot in when it mattered. Rio has ‘lost a yard or two’, as the old cliché goes, but we have to give him credit for marshalling the defence, and doing well to forge a partnership and help bring Evans up to standard.
6. Javier Hernandez made a big difference to the game after coming on with 25 minutes left to play. He really stretched the Fulham defence and gave us more room to play in, with him darting up the pitch to get on the end of balls forward. Valencia hadn’t caused the threat we would hope for, again, but Chicharito gave Fulham something to think about, which definitely worked to our advantage.
7. Tom Cleverley will be disappointed with his performance, after getting a chance following several games of not playing. He didn’t play badly but then he didn’t do anything brilliantly well either. After a poor display from Anderson midweek, Cleverley had the opportunity to show why he should be in the starting team every week, but didn’t manage to leave his mark on the game. Michael Carrick has been ruled out of England’s game with a hip injury, so if that keeps him out of United’s next game against Everton, Cleverley will almost certainly get another start.
8. I’m just counting down the games now, ticking them off, desperate for the season to come to an end. In year’s when we aren’t champions I always feel that desperation more. I’m not as picky about performances, I’m not too bothered how we score or who plays well, I just want us to win and get the title back. When we’re champions, I’m more spoilt and have higher expectations, but for now, scrappy and narrow victories over the likes of Southampton and Fulham are more than good enough for me. Roll on next week.
The RoM Manchester United 2022-23 season preview is now available for just £6. It includes exclusive interviews with Patrice Evra and Kleberson, articles from the country's best football writers about our expectations for the season ahead and our brightest talents, as well as proposed transfer business and which youth players to keep an eye out for. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.