Inside Old Trafford

Thursday 6 February 2014 17:00

Ahead of Sunday’s trip to Manchester United, Red Devils fan James Bridges provides us with the lowdown on his team.

Following Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure and the subsequent arrival of David Moyes this was always likely to be a season of transition for United. What’s your assessment of the campaign to date?

We’ve never really got going. I applaud Moyes for making his own judgement on players and not being steered by others, it shows that he’s a strong person. I think it’s been a learning curve for him, as it’s a completely different job than the one he was used to at Everton.

It’s fair to say, like Fulham, January was a bit of a testing month for you guys...

It didn’t start well following three defeats, but things looked better against Swansea City in the league. Five defeats in seven games isn’t good enough, but it’s onwards and upwards now hopefully. So the month of January was a little up and down to say the least.

With 14 games remaining, what’s the target now for United?

It’s very simple, we need to win all 14 games. I’m sure fans of rival clubs have already written us off but, as United supporters know, it’s never over until it’s over.

Fulham go in search of what would prove a vital win when they make the trip to Old Trafford. What sort of game do you anticipate?

Fulham need the points as they’re determined to move off from the bottom. I’m surprised by their position in the table, and Sunday’s game could be tough for us. With the season we’ve had so far, it’s a difficult one to call. 

René Meulensteen, our Head Coach, obviously spent time at Old Trafford. The United fans were disappointed to see him go weren’t they?

René was seen as a big loss, as he was very popular with both the players and the fans. I’m sure he’s relishing the chance of overseeing a Fulham win at Old Trafford. With the exception of a few that have come in since his departure, he’ll know all about the United players.

We signed two young players from your club last week, Larnell Cole and Ryan Tunnicliffe - what can you tell us about them?

Cole was a regular for our Under-21 side, and he scored some important goals at that level. He was highly-rated, but it’s a good chance for him at Fulham. Tunnicliffe is a local Manchester lad and someone that plays with real grit. He was part of the Under-18 side that won the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and impressed during loan spells at Peterborough United, Barnsley and Ipswich Town, according to reports. They were signed with one eye on the future, and hopefully they’ll do well at Craven Cottage.

Juan Mata came in for United during the recent transfer window, what does he bring to the team?

While he may not be the quickest player in the league, he’s certainly one of the most skilful; he’s inventive and uses the ball well. He creates chances, and that’s what we’ve been really lacking. With Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie feeding off him, it should be the dream ticket.

Mata lined up alongside Van Persie and Rooney in the match against Stoke City. Although the result wasn’t what you had hoped for, that attacking trio is one of the best in the league isn’t it?

It is, and if it they click they could prove to be a devastating mix. We’re talking about three tremendous talents and each one brings something different to the team. It may take a few weeks to get going, but I’m confident United fans will see a return of some excellent attacking football.

Which United players have stood out for you this season?

Rooney was brilliant before his injury, and Adnan Januzaj has emerged as a genuine talent - the youngster has been a real bonus this season. It was no secret that he was going to be a good player, but Moyes has done well to bring him in and give him the confidence to play. The youngster was given a chance, and he’s certainly taken it.

Which visiting players do you think could prove the biggest threat to your chances on Sunday?

The loan signing of Lewis Holtby is a good move and, while I haven’t seen a great deal of him, the lad from Olympiacos, Konstantinos Mitroglou, is well regarded. If he does make his debut for Fulham at Old Trafford, then I’d certainly mark him down as a threat. Thanks for signing him, though, as he can’t play in the UEFA Champions League when we face his former team!

Can you recommend a good place for the Fulham fans to grab a pint before the game?

I was only talking about this the other day. Over the years there has been a rapid decline in the number of pubs around Old Trafford and now most are for ‘home fans only’ so the away fans will have to make do with one of the pubs or bars in the city centre, where there will be plenty of choice.

Do you have a stand-out memory from games between United and Fulham of the past?

We’ve got a good record against Fulham, barring a couple of exceptions at Craven Cottage. I’d probably say my stand-out memory would be Cristiano Ronaldo’s 88th-minute winner in a 2-1 victory in London in February 2007. It was a goal that moved us nine points clear at the top.

Can we move you into making a score prediction for the match ahead - how will this one finish?

Afraid not, I just never make predictions on United’s games - I don’t want to jinx anything!