Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Fulham fear wounded animal

If silence speaks volumes then the noise from Old Trafford since Saturday's humiliation by fiercest rivals Liverpool has been deafening.

All eyes will be on Craven Cottage this weekend when Manchester United attempt to respond to their 4-1 drubbing by Rafa Benitez's rejuvenated side against Fulham and prove they have the mental strength to defy those who have predicted an end-of-season wobble.

Sir Alex Ferguson provided some insight into the psyche of his shell-shocked players when he demanded that they deliver on the club ethos of triumphing in the face of adversity and Roy Hodgson will be wary of a wounded animal when the Premier League leaders arrive in west London.

Ferguson himself has never thrown the towel in and the battle-hardened Scot has said he expects his players to fight their corner and meet the challenge of a race to the winning post head on.

"You only relish it if you end up winning," he told Inside United. "You're prepared to go through the agony as long as you end up on top."

"It can be edgy, but you have to accept the challenge. Being there is the greatest thing and that is what we are all striving for."

United have been embarrassed before, of course, but the manner of their humbling against their biggest domestic rivals on home soil will have hurt Ferguson.

The experienced Old Trafford boss knows the chasing pack are ready to pounce, although historically he has usually had the last laugh.

With 10 games to go in the Premier League, including awkward home games against Aston Villa, Manchester City and Arsenal, United remain in the box seat because of their four-point advantage and fixture in hand.

The smiles could disappear, however, if the world club champions have not finished licking their wounds come Saturday.

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