United sent out text messages on the Wednesday just passed to season ticket holders, members and, in some cases, even lapsed members trying to entice them into buying tickets for yesterday’s match. Like the Sunderland game pre-Christmas, it was obvious that the touts were going to have a quieter day than usual. In the pre-match build up, with previous United cup final records being interspersed with Fools Gold and This Is The One by The Stone Roses, Alan Keegan informed the Old Trafford crowd that United, having won the FA cup 11 times, were the most succesful club in cup history three times in ten minutes. It was nice that United’s 1948 cup winning goalkeeper, Curzon Ashton president and Hulme old boy, Jack Crompton, was a guest of honour at yesterday’s match. Crompton is also a regular at Altrincham’s Moss Lane ground when United’s reserves are playing a home match; I sincerely hope he’s also guest of honour when he turns up there too.The turnout of Fulham fans yesterday put me in mind of being on a half empty long haul flight. Each and every one of them could’ve sprawled out over three or four seats if they had so desired and there would’ve still been plenty of empty seats in the South East corner of Old Trafford. Visiting fans for domestic cup matches in England are entitled to 10% of the tickets. Yesterday, I don’t believe Fulham brought anymore than 500 with them. Fair play to the ones that did travel but that is a truly terrible travelling support, with only Wigan Athletic beating yesterday’s low turnout. If the numbers of the travelling support were bad, they were surpassed in mediocrity by their team. On yesterday’s performance, Fulham reminded me of a chant the Stretford End used to orate in the 1980s which went ‘You’re so shit it’s unbelievable’. United won at a canter yesterday, having done a similar job on a similarly hapless Fulham side in the quarter final of the Cup in March 2009 which ended in a 4-0 win for United at Craven Cottage. United went back there soon after for a league game performed equally as poorly, ending in a 2-0 defeat for the Reds. I just hope Fulham are this bad next Saturday and history doesn’t repeat itself.
From the kick off, United were full of aggression and purpose. Wayne Rooney should’ve scored immediately from kick off when he capitalised on a poor back pass from Steve Sidwell. Fulham managed to get the ball out to the relative safety of a corner but from that resulting corner, taken by Wayne Rooney, Aaron Hughes handballed for an obvious penalty. Ryan Giggs scored from the resulting penalty with Mark Schwarzer getting his hand to the ball on his right hand side. In scoring that goal, Ryan Giggs equalled this season’s goalscoring tally of enigmatic Man City centre forward and scourge of school bullies, Mario Balotelli. United had a more blatant penalty appeal waved away by referee Mark Clattenburg on 20 minutes when Damien Duff handled the ball from a Ryan Giggs’ through ball to Wayne Rooney. Seconds later, Mark Schwarzer made a great save to put a goalbound Wayne Rooney shot onto the bar. Ten minutes after that move, Schwarzer made yet another brilliant save from Wayne Rooney. The match should’ve been over by half time.
United calmed any anxieties that Fulham could’ve stolen a result by scoring twice in the first seven minutes of the second half. First, a well deserved goal for Wayne Rooney and the first of a brace by Javier Hernandez effectively finished the game off as a contest. Fourteen minutes later, Hernandez made the score 4-0 with a close range shot which deflected off Aaron Hughes past an unlucky Mark Schwarzer. If it wasn’t for the performance of Mark Schwarzer, yesterday would’ve been a cricket score. On the balance of play, the goal that Hughes scored for Fulham on 77 minutes when he headed past David De Gea’s near post gave a false perspective to the final score. That said, it was a cup match where the goal was never going to have any real significance and only the truly mean-spirited would’ve begrudged the battalion of Fulham fans or Aaron Hughes himself, the consolation it provided.