United crushes Fulham, Ferguson has eye on FA Cup success
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed his burning desire to help his club add to their record 11 FA Cup Final successes this year.
United have won the trophy more times than any other club but have not done so since 2004, meaning that Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Darren Fletcher are the only players in the current first team squad with a winner’s medal to their name while with United.
Giggs was the only starter from that trio, scoring an early goal as United easily dealt with Fulham 4-1 in a fourth round victory against Fulham, and Ferguson admitted that his players are keen to bring their barren run to an end.
“I hope this is the year that changes,” said Ferguson. “Certainly today they have done very well.
“Rio Ferdinand has never won an FA Cup medal and we’ve got to do something about that.
“This was a good performance. We respected Fulham, as you can see from the fact we put out a very strong team.”
Giggs himself scored a second minute penalty, almost 20 years to the day since his first FA Cup goal for the club, to put United in control before Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez, twice, put United 4-0 in front after only 66 minutes.
Aaron Hughes headed a late consolation for the visitors but United reached the last 16 of the competition with the minimum of fuss.
“The FA Cup means a lot,”said four-time winner Giggs. “We’ve not done as well as we should have done the last eight or nine years and we have a lot of players who are desperate to win it.
“The history we’ve got in the competition, we should be there, getting to finals, hopefully this will be our year.”
The clinical performance of Hernandez and Rooney also had Ferguson claiming that his current four-man strike force - of Rooney, Hernandez, Danny Welbeck and Robin Van Persie - is on a par with his forwards from the famous 1999 treble-winning squad, Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Teddy Sheringham.
The four in ‘99 were fantastic players, you couldn’t possibly criticise any of them, but we’ve got four players today who are equally as good,” said Ferguson.
“What I’m really pleased about is Chicharito got two today so he’s up to 14, Wayne got one. If we get those two and Robin in the 20-plus mark, then we’re definitely in business.”
Ferguson also confirmed that Rooney, who has missed ten penalties in his career including two this season, has been relieved of penalty-taking duties, with Giggs proving himself up to the task against Fulham.
Four different United players have missed penalties this season and Giggs would appear to be the man “on the spot,” for the time being at least.
“Ryan is probably one of our best penalty kick takers to be honest,” said Ferguson. “I think it’s fair, with Wayne missing a penalty it was time to give him a break.
“He’ll come back to it, there’s no doubt about that because the one thing about Wayne is that it doesn’t faze him if he misses a penalty - he has a fantastic temperament for that.”
Martin Jol, the Fulham manager, admitted his team escaped lightly and is now keen to concentrate on remaining in the Premier League - a task that may not be that straightforward given that Fulham are only six points clear of relegation.
“Luckily they only scored a fourth goal,” he said. “Because it was one of those days it could have been six or seven.
“For us the most important thing is the league and we have to concentrate on our game with West Ham now. That’s the problem. We play three games against Man City, Man United and Man United again next week. It’s a difficult spell for us.”