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Normally at this time of year, you’d be hard stuck for a narrative. But, it just so happens that the perfect storm has landed and we’re now going to see a spectacle that’s both entertaining and meaningful all in one.
The return of fans to Old Trafford – well, the first welcome return of fans to Old Trafford – is set to take place on Tuesday when they host already-relegated Fulham. So, why is this beneficial? First of all – United can guarantee second spot with a win. That’s enough in and of itself.
Tuesday 18:00 – Man United v Fulham
Sky Sports Main Event
Fulham, despite their relegation, were expected to at least be competitive in their remaining fixtures. They got hockeyed by a bang average Southampton side the last time we saw them. The tension between Manchester United’s fans and their owners is palpable and I believe the United supporters will be demanding a seismic display from their charges to further endorse their commitment to the fanbase, aside from all the press releases.
So, with opposition who simply aren’t bothered, genuine motivation to win the game and backing from supporters to keep them ticking over, this could be an absolute mauling.
You hardly expected a curveball after the ramble above? Look, the only way United aren’t winning this game is if the supporters are overtly critical of them for no reason and the occasion hinders rather than encourages them.
And honestly, even an entire section of the 10,000-strong supporters in attendance came on and played for Fulham, they’d be doing well to scrape a draw. Let’s not over-complicate this too much – United win, and now I’ll tell you by how many and due to whose goals.
I was tempted to throw in a handicap, but I actually believe is a safer play because on the off-chance United commit too many forward in certain moments, Fulham do have pace at the other end to at least convert one-v-ones.
Oh, and let’s not forget that United have been prone to some questionable goalkeeping in the not-so-distant past. I expect The Red Devils to account for all of these goals, but if Fulham want to chip in, they’re more than welcome to do so.
The late-season fixtures can really begin slowly at the best of times, but the fact this is the first time that fans will be welcome back to the historic venue means this’ll feel like a Cup final – an analogy I swore never to use unless it was completely relevant.
Here, it is. United may be deemed the comeback kings for a reason, but they hit the front against Liverpool when the game felt important and this will have a similar feel, even if the opposition aren’t quite up to the same standard.
Perhaps one of the most tragic occurrences of football being played behind closed doors is the fact that fanbases have been deprived the opportunity to see young players come through the ranks and make a big splash.
This would have been the case with Mason Greenwood at Manchester United, and I feel like he’s now more than capable of showing them just what they’ve been missing – yet admiring from afar, knowing that yet another youth prospect could be the catalyst for catapulting them back to the big time.
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