I've had a frustrating week one way or another. Had lots of things I wanted to say about the cracking result last Saturday but didn't have any time to write. Even in the few moments I've had to think about it I wasn't sure how best to express my thoughts about the game. A game to remember. One that will stay with me for the rest of my life. When in doubt ... do a Top 5!
5. Waving bye-bye to Wayne Rooney - I've no axe to grind with Rooney. He's a great player and made a big difference when he replaced Berbatov at half time. Even with ten men we all knew United were capable of beating us and for a while in the second half I couldn't quite believe they weren't. Our second goal was too much though and Rooney's frustration was the physical evidence that the game was up. It was the final pantomime moment in a game that had made me laughing as hard as I cheered.
4. Danny Murphy's perfect penalty - My admiration for Danny Murphy right now knows no bounds. I'll be the first to admit I didn't rate him too highly last season but I've realised the error of my ways. He's been a revelation this season (the best midfielder in the Premier League?) and seems to get better every week. He does the simple stuff brilliantly and yet again was the conductor at the heart of a majestic team performance. As he stepped up to take the penalty I felt the buzz of my phone as a text arrived. It was from a Spurs supporting friend who later said he knew Murphy wouldn't miss. He was right.
3. 20,000 Fulham fans calling Ronaldo a wanker - That might seem childish and puerile but it confirmed a growing belief in my stomach that we were going to win the game. United, already a goal and a player down, were clearly getting frustrated with the Ref's refusal to fall for their attempts to win free kicks or get Fulham players sent off. I've often joked with my pals about "Fortress Cottage" and proposed ways to turn our ground into the Galatasary of south west London. Craven Cottage is not the most intimidating of grounds yet, as Ronaldo stood pleading with Phil Dowd for yet another fictional offence, we made our feelings clear. As he sulked off away from the home end it was clear we had got to him. The supposed "best player in the world" and he couldn't handle a barracking from nice little Fulham. For all his tricks and flicks he's got a lot of growing up to do before he can really show he's good enough to stand alongside the greats of the game. Maybe if he'd focused on his football he could have made a difference.
2. Sensing the big match atmosphere as we entered the Hammy End - Maybe familiarity breeds contempt but I wasn't particularly excited about playing United before we arrived. The traffic was bad and we cut it a bit finer than we'd have liked so the match was seconds from kick-off as we climbed the steps into the Hammersmith End. As I stepped into the stand the sense of anticipation was tangible. This was a massive game, a real big match atmosphere. My mood changed instantly and I felt strangely optimistic for a good result. A good game at least. That feeling never left me. A great day.
1. Zoltan Gera's overhead volley - Zoltan Gera hadn't won my sympathy in the way Bobby Zamora had. Whilst I could see he was going through a difficult settling in phase I didn't feel moved enough to really support him. His arrival against United was a necessary change coming at the point where Dempsey's willingness to chase every ball was finally overcome by his bout of food poisoning. We needed a fresh pair of legs. He did well in the build up to the second goal, collected it from Dickson Etuhu, played a good pass to AJ who almost got a shot in before returning the ball. As Gera chipped it up off his toe the first thought through my mind was - oh Zoltan, you've messed that up. Then something incredible happened. The ball hung in the air, Gera twisted his body in an unlikely shape and pulled off an amazing overhead volley into the far corner. A goal! A really great goal! A goal that was going to beat Manchester United! Hooray for Zoltan! Zoltan, destroyer of worlds!.
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