Terrible Fulham make it easy for Man Utd

Clive Mason

A brace from Javier Hernandez and a masterful Ryan Giggs display only further highlighted Fulham's cosmic inefficiencies.

It was only a small part of me, but a part of me nonetheless, that thought that maybe Manchester United in the FA Cup was actually a surmountable task.

We hardly had form on our side and things haven't been rosy with Fulham for quite some time now but there's this cup magic that many so often speak of. The thought that anything can happen if you put your mind to it and any dream can be fulfilled.

But then, that's the problem for the whites. You have to put your mind to it and there was little of that going on at Old Trafford today. It was the same contentious moaning from Dimitar Berbatov. The same lazy passes from all over the midfield. The same lack of attacking focal point. The same, shoddy, lamentable defence.

And so, Man Utd scored within three minutes, and scored again, and again, and again. Sometimes you expect a drubbing and have to prepare for the worst, but you don't expect performances of this dire calibre. Especially with such unnerving consistency.

For we've being playing like this for months now - without energy, without pace, without any genuine threat. It's just that United exposed our weaknesses that little bit more than other teams probably would. And it makes for grim reading.

Because, while we won't have to face teams of the ilk of the Reds every week, we will have to continue to witness performances like the one we were treated to here. And, in that respect, the scoreline, and where we're currently heading as a club, speaks for itself.

It took only two minutes for Aaron Hughes to grant United their first gift, handling in the area to give Ryan Giggs the opportunity to convert from the spot.

He did so, even with Mark Schwarzer getting his fingers to the ball. Tone set, and wheels in motion.

Rooney nearly doubled the lead on 21 minutes but Schwarzer had stronger hands this time, helping it onto the crossbar.

The first half continued in much the same fashion - sloppy Fulham defending, little in the way of guile or creativity, a tame United finish and a Schwarzer save.

And so we sat out the remainder of opening period, somehow not conceding and yet still not adding anything to the game.

But the second half wouldn't be so kind. Anderson sent an exquisite through ball to Wayne Rooney who cut inside Hughes with consummate ease. He slid the ball past Schwarzer and the game was beyond doubt.

But it still wasn't good enough for the Reds, or bad enough for Fulham. Javier Hernandez added his first after some more dismal defending and had his second a few minutes later.

He made his way into the Fulham penalty area, without much of a challenge, and hit a relatively tepid shot. It deflected off of Hughes, however, and wrong-footed Schwarzer to make it four.

The Cottagers did manage to get one back, although to say it was from an attack would be misleading. Hughes headed home from a corner at a quite acute angle but, no matter the quality of the goal, it meant nothing.

It was a mere footnote in an otherwise terrible performance.

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