Friday, 24 January 2014

Humble or Happy Come Sunday?

When Fulham arrive at The Lane on Sunday for our FA Cup Forth Round tie its has been reported that officials will be offering the red carpet treatment, this is all well and good but as soon as the players walk on to that pitch the so called red carpet needs to be yanked from under their feet. After the ecstasy of Villa Park and seeing arguably the best United performance in over five years we need to be prepared for a real tough time. Whilst the press have speculated bigger name players like Berbatov could be left behind in London due to fixture congestion and squad rotation this does not give us a free pass into the next round. The Blades will have to work hard and imitate and possibly surpass the heroics of the previous round, we will need the wingers finding space and testing the full backs, we cant have them static and just looking for crosses to the box like in League games of old, we need them to try their look, play with confidence and be willing to act as a game changer. We need our strikers to be ready to fight for the ball in the air, something that Porter has lacked before and after the last cup game, but he showed us all that he can do it, he can challenge for the ball, he can get into dangerous positions, and despite poor league performances we need him to be that nuisance he was. Most of all we need Matt Hill to play the blinder he did when he was given the duties of dealing with Albrighton, and for the defense to be imposing and dominating.

Even if the likes of Berbatov are left behind we have to look at other dangers, especially Darren Bent and Adel Taarabt, Bent has the pace to cause Collins a lot of problems, and Taarabt as we have seen in the past at Q.P.R can rip a defense to shreds if they don't prepare for him adequately. RenĂ© Meulensteen has big decisions to make, if he fields a youth team and we play like we have shown we can upset the odds and show up Fulham for not showing us the proper respect, if he were to go the other way and play a strong side it is down to us, we have to be able to adapt, and pile pressure on, if we sit back like we have in previous games we will be left humbled by the Premier League outfit. Their managers attitude towards game play could be our biggest lifeline, their slow build approach is something we dealt with at Villa Park and Villa had to start throwing balls forward because we didn't allow them the chance to progress when they were trying to play conservatively. Fulham are not a flair team, they play conservatively and rely on patiently getting the ball forward, hardly a Barcelona style of tica taca but one that many foreign managers adopt when making the move to the Premiership. So many differentials apply in this game, its makes preparation a game of chess, and adaptability essential, this will not be an easy game, nor impossible to win, its in our own hands, its up to us to forge our own path, we cant rely on their team selection or tactics, we just have to be prepared for everything, and if the support is even half as good as that at Villa we will know we have done our part.

-Jonathan Gascoigne

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