A Demonstration Of Strength At Craven Cottage
United now certainly can't be accused of not taking the FA Cup seriously. Sir Alex Ferguson rested Cristiano Ronaldo and Dimitar Berbatov but they were replaced by Anderson and Tevez who can hardly be called fringe players - and boy did they do their job.
Fulham collapsed at Old Trafford after the first goal and let us overrun them - but they were expected to offer stern resistance at home where they are much stronger. Don't forget, they beat Arsenal and drew with Chelsea at Craven Cottage (and of course earned a point at Anfield).
Well, this Fulham team was blown away by Manchester United despite a lively start. But their defensive frailty (which is strange as their good results this season were achieved on the back of a sturdy defence) was evident from the start and Rooney could have snatched the lead in the second minute but Schwarzer made a great save.
He did not stand a chance in the 20th minute though when Rooney flicked on Anderson's corner and Tevez headed home at the back post to give United the lead. We had been the more dangerous team up to this point but from the goal we began to dominate completely. The reward came when Tevez picked up a ball at the halfway line, left a few Fulham players trailing in his wake before curling an unstoppable stunner past Schwarzer.
Game over and now Carrick, Anderson, Park, Fletcher, Tevez and Rooney cruelly terrorised Fulham, to the extent that even O'Shea could afford to go forward and almost scored when Carrick's brilliant sliderule pass set him clear but Schwarzer made a great save.
The United-show went on in the second half: Rooney, having hit the post in the first half, now scored with a well-placed shot and with ten minutes to go Park crowned our performance after intercepting Gera's pass, taking on the defence and scoring with a great effort.
It could have been more, it could have been even more devastating as it was a first-class performance. Anderson is getting better as he is gaining match fitness; Rooney is inspirational; Carrick is still in fine form; Park - I might be wrong here but it's certainly how it seems to me - is improving technically which is remarkable in his age.
The negatives? O'Shea and Ferdinand both picked up minor knocks and both are doubtful for the second leg against Inter on Wednesday. But I think they'll be patched up and will start. Can't wait for that game, following this fine demonstration of our powers.