Manchester United are poor role models

Champions of England, Champions of Europe, they may be, but decent role models for the next generation of youngsters? Not on your nelly. On Saturday we had the full repertoire of everything you teach children not to do: Sulk; Cheat; Shout and scream when things don’t go their way; Moan, Whinge; and then hit the nearest available object when you get told off. It was truly pathetic.

Cristiano Ronaldo spent most of the match ranting at anyone in earshot, whether it was referee Phil Dowd, his own players, the opposition; Paul Scholes blatantly cheated and, thankfully, paid the price; Patrice Evra also cheated by pretending to get fouled and, thankfully again, got booked for simulation.

…And then you had good old Wayne Rooney who, it’s worth pointing out, is not a kid any more. He is a married 23-year-old man. His displays of petulance can no longer be dismissed as teenage frustrations. So what did he do? Well, after getting annoyed that the Fulham midfielders were tying him in knots, he hauled Olivier Dacourt to the ground by his shirt and shorts. Yellow card.

Not content with that. He then throws the ball back towards the referee after Ryan Giggs takes a freekick too early. Nothing wrong with that, surely? Not in theory, but it was launched with the venom and velocity of an exocet missile. Yellow card number two and down the tunnel you go.

Only he didn’t. After stopping to hurl abuse he then punched the corner flag. It was absolutely laughable. I was only pleased my sons weren’t there to witness it. Attempts to tell them that they shouldn’t throw strops when things don’t go their way is rather undermined when this is exactly how the best team in the world behaves. Time to grow up, eh?


Player Rankings: Fulham v Manchester United

Here’s how I scored the lads for yesterday’s momentous victory against United.

Schwarzer – 8/10
Kept United at bay with a string of excellent stops in the second half. Demonstrated he truly is world class, if we needed any reminding.

Paintsil – 7/10
A great display – and wonderful to see the big smile back on his face during the customary lap of honour.

Hughes – 7/10
A huge relief to see him in the line-up, there having been doubts whether he would be fit, and was his usual reliable self.

Hangleand – 8/10
One word: awesome. I don’t rate our chances of hanging on to him in the summer but he is, without doubt, one of the best defenders to ever pull on a Fulham shirt.

Konchesky – 7/10
As strong and as solid as ever. Didn’t give United much room to move down the right flank.

Dempsey – 7/10
Strong, committed, fearless.

Murphy – 8/10
What a season he is having! With the departure of Bullard, Murphy is free to pull all the strings in midfield and is clearly relishing the opportunity. A fantastic display.

Etuhu – 7/10
Getting better with each game and his understanding with Murphy is improving all the time.

Davies – 7/10
A typical Davies-esque performance: full of running and energy, topped off with some superb passes and a fierce shot which VDS did very well to stop.

Zamora – 7/10
Only the cheating hands of Scholes prevented him from getting a very well deserved goal. Was a constant thorn in United’s side…all he needs now are some more goals.

Johnson – 7/10
The man never stops running! Caused United’s back four all sorts of problems and combined well with Gera for the second goal.

Dacourt – 6/10
Came on late but gave a solid performance

Gera – 7/10
A masterstroke by Hodgson, as it turned out. You will struggle to see a better taken goal. Excellent stuff.

Kamara – 6/10
Not much time to make an impression but ran his heart out for the cause.

Fulham teach petulant Manchester United a lesson

I waited for it  from the first minute. After 15 minutes it still hadn’t arrived. By half-time there was no sign of it showing up. Twenty minutes later there were a few hints that it was on its way, but the Manchester United goal never came.

They came close, though. Had it not been for a miraculous double save from Mark Schwarzer they would have equalised, heads could have gone down and we may have found ourselves vulnerable. But the fact was we totally outplayed the visitors in the first half and offered stubborn resistance in the second.

We were totally up for the fight from the start and really carried the game to United who looked, it has to be said, pretty bereft of ideas. Whereas Anderson and Tevez tortured us in the cup game a couple of weeks back, Berbatov and Ronaldo looked disinterested. There was no bite from United; no fire in the belly.

However, the game really turned in our favour when Scholes patted Zamora’s goal bound header away with both hands in true volleyball style. Danny Murphy – now firmly installed as a Fulham legend – hammered the ball into the roof of the net and belief clearly swept through the team.

The next 20 minutes were fantastic. With United down to 10-men following the dismissal of Scholes, we tore apart their midfield and peppered their goal with shots. Were it not for the brilliance of Edwin Van der Sar, we could have been three or four goals to the good by the time Phil Dowd blew for half-time.

The second half was a slightly different story. With Wayne Rooney replacing the ineffectual Berbatov, it started to look more like the United of old, but we displayed a fantastic amount of self belief. Hangeland patrolled his line like a sliver back gorilla – going for anything that appeared threatening in any way, while Hughes, Konchesky and Paintsil defended like tigers alongside him.

Even when United breached the back four, they found Schwarzer was in no mood for charity, saving a good header from Ronaldo, before pulling off point blank saves from both Park and Rooney. It was fantastic stuff.

Then Roy Hodgson sent on Gera and his exquisite flick and bicycle kick put the game beyond United’s reach. It really was a stunning effort. If Rooney – who was hilariously dismissed at the end for yet another display of petulance – had pulled off something similar they would have been replaying it endlessly on Match of the Day.

In short, then, this was a thoroughly deserved victory…and I enjoyed every minute of it.