Although a clown car typically moves in a chaotic manner, Fulham showed moments of dominance in this match. They had a higher number of shots and displayed more creativity in the attacking third. They also won more crucial challenges and played with a sense of confidence and bravery. However, all of their efforts were ultimately negated in the last minute of the game due to a catastrophic mistake during a routine clearance. What should have been a simple maneuver turned into a chaotic and anarchic display, undoing all of Fulham’s previous successes.
Throughout it all, Bruno Fernandes was present, observing from the sidelines and biding his time. Despite enduring years of suffering, humiliation, and aimless moments, Bruno has remained a constant presence. He possesses an incredible skill set and a knack for causing chaos. He is both the catalyst for anger and the source of dysfunction, simultaneously a storm and the one who can quell it. And at times, he also has the ability to casually jog for 90 minutes, seemingly disinterested in the chaos around him.
Bruno consistently showed up, despite it not always seeming to have a significant impact, even when there were individuals who opposed his presence. Despite his flaws, he has been the driving, agitating force within this struggling soccer team: not flawless, but authentic. This marked his third goal of the season, and each one has resulted in a victory. And in this moment, it was his bending shot in the 91st minute that determined the outcome of a match that easily could have ended in a tie.
Naturally, he did not achieve victory in this match single-handedly. Facundo Pellistri revitalized United’s right side when he entered as a replacement for Antony. Diogo Dalot made a vital interception in the first half and André Onana made two crucial saves in the second. Aaron Wan-Bissaka continues to excel at diffusing dangerous situations, as demonstrated by his performance in this game. However, it was ultimately Bruno who stole the show: the game’s unpredictable storyteller, its pivotal moment, the one capable of turning a mundane journey on the M6 into an exhilarating celebration of music.
Fulham may have been able to secure a win if they had a stronger striker. However, Rodrigo Muniz, who started his first league game of the season, had to leave the field due to another injury. This leaves a noticeable gap in the team where Aleksandar Mitrovic used to be. Despite good opportunities for Harry Wilson and João Palhinha, as well as impressive performances from Willian and Alex Iwobi in midfield, the lack of killer instinct was ultimately what cost Fulham the game. On the other hand, Manchester United managed to hold onto their killer instinct, despite some things being forgotten.
Although they were leading at the start, Scott McTominay’s goal was deemed offside due to Harry Maguire’s attempted lunge without contact. Was Maguire really influencing the game? After some time of deep thought, John Brooks disallowed the goal. Despite this, Maguire played well throughout the game, not only as a strong and physical presence in defense but also as one of United’s key sources of creativity.
The United supporters chanted “attack” repeatedly as Maguire sent a long pass to Rasmus Højlund and Fernandes attempted to gain possession of the rebound. It was a strategy, at least. On the other hand, Wilson performed exceptionally well on the right side for Fulham. Højlund and Tim Ream engaged in a fierce battle akin to those in the Marvel Comic Universe. Palhinha, valued at £15m and now worth possibly £100m, was the standout midfielder on the field. Antony, on the other hand, was not making much of an impact despite his £100m price tag.
However, as the opportunities they missed continued to accumulate, a feeling of unease could be felt in Fulham, foreshadowing the potential outcome they were striving to prevent. As Antonee Robinson passed the ball back towards their own goal, Pellistri also recognized the danger and aggressively pressed Palhinha, resulting in a hasty clearance that deflected off Ream and then another that conveniently fell to Fernandes.
Fernandes regained possession from Pellistri and skillfully moved the ball onto his right foot before placing it precisely into the goal. This moment does not fix everything or make United a great team, but in the midst of a larger struggle, it’s important to celebrate small victories.
A final word to the Fulham fans, who devised pretty much the politest protest ever seen at a Premier League ground, even if it sprang from a deep well of resentment. A sea of yellow cards appeared around the ground in the 18th minute, as supporters expressed their disgust at the 18% rise in season ticket prices that is Shahid and Tony Khan’s latest attempt to turn Craven Cottage into the exclusive playground of the rich. United may have picked their pockets yesterday. But their own club has arguably been pulling off the same trick for years.