The Tony Gale Column

Tuesday 29 October 2013 12:30

It’s hard to find any positives from Saturday’s defeat at Southampton. It was a very disappointing display, especially after the 4-1 thumping of Crystal Palace earlier in the week.

I’m still savouring that Pajtim Kasami goal at Selhurst Park. If that had been Wayne Rooney or Robin van Persie, Kasami’s goal would have been even more celebrated than it already has been. It was a fantastic piece of technique, done at pace as well and there probably won’t be a better goal seen anywhere for many a season.

There’s been a lot of debate up and down the country as to whether it was better than Marco van Basten’s famous strike in the Euro 1988 Final. Personally, I think Kasami’s was better. Van Basten already had his standing foot planted, whereas Kasami was doing it on the run. Alright, Van Basten’s was in a Final but Kasami’s, technically, was better. Anybody who says different is deluded!

Steve Sidwell’s goal wasn’t bad either. I played a charity golf tournament with Siddy, his mate Chris and Tony Cottee the other week. Unlike his strike at Palace, Siddy didn’t hit one ball straight all day on the golf course! But what a wonderful goal it was and I was delighted for him. I understand he hasn’t signed a new contract yet but I would advise Fulham to hurry up and tie him down because the likes of him and Scotty Parker are what we need at the Club.

It was a great three points at Palace but, although we won 4-1, I still didn’t think we played that well. We got better after we went 2-1 up but I thought the danger signs were there and I had a feeling we’d be in for a tough afternoon at Southampton as a result.

We met Southampton on the top of their game – they’re flying at the moment. The most disappointing thing was that we didn’t really have a shot in anger. I’ve seen Southampton live three times this season and I knew exactly what to expect – they play a high-pressing game. But we didn’t have any answer to it and time and again we were caught in possession and we weren’t quick enough on the ball. We really have got some good players and they should be playing better than they are.

It’s Leicester City away in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday and, as I’ve said before, I’d like to see Martin Jol change the system. We can’t change our players and the transfer window is shut so maybe try a different formation and see if that works. I’m not sure what sort of team Martin is thinking about putting out but hopefully it’s a strong one as it’s a good competition to progress in and maybe even win. How good would a day out at Wembley be? It’s a cup not to be sniffed at but Leicester are doing really well this season in the Championship.

I’ve read that Nigel Pearson is thinking about resting some of his players as their league is a 46-game season so hopefully that will stop their momentum a little bit. It’s a difficult game but one I expect Fulham to win.

On Saturday we then play host to Manchester United, a match I’m commentating on for Sky. I was at their game against Stoke City last weekend and United’s defending was alarming at times. They’re a team that needs to be got at; you can’t sit back against them. Every team that has had a go at them this season has got their rewards. Their weakness is their back four at the moment and their backline was very shaky on Saturday.

It wasn’t the United of old but what they have got is the ability to turn the game at the drop of a hat with the likes of Rooney and Van Persie. It’s the first time I’ve seen the kid in the flesh but what a talent Adnan Januzaj is, too. To see the way he moves and manipulates the ball – he’s a real talent and is going to be a top, top player. He’s only 18 and he already looks like he belongs.

David Moyes will be feeling the pressure because United are expected to win every game. But I wouldn’t rule them out of the title race yet. I’m not convinced anyone’s going to run away with it. Chelsea aren’t quite there, Manchester City aren’t firing on all cylinders, and I’m not convinced Arsenal or Liverpool will last the pace.

So United will be in the frame but they have to win on Saturday – a draw isn’t good enough. They’ve got to come at us and we’ve got to get at them by getting amongst them and making it hard for them to play their football. We need to show them no respect whatsoever.

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