Fulham manager Martin Jol believes his side’s 3-2 loss to Manchester United was a tale of two halves, and was delighted with the Cottagers’ second-half display.

The Cottagers took the lead at Old Trafford after Damien Duff latched onto Bryan Ruiz’s free kick after just three minutes, but goals from Robin van Persie, Shinji Kagawa and Rafael ensured the Red Devils went into the half-time break with a comfortable two-goal cushion.

The away side got one back after in the second period when a communication breakdown saw Nemanja Vidic tap the ball into his own net, with a much-improved Moussa Dembele-inspired performance saw United having to cling on until the final whistle.

Shunning his side’s first-half performance, Jol told Sky Sports that Fulham did not play the way they should have but that they did improve following the break: “We’re a football team and if we do that we can control games, even away from home against United, and that was why it was unacceptable for us.

“Maybe we were too modest, maybe because of the size of the club.

“But in the second half we promised ourselves that we would play the football we can play and that was a lot better, and I have to say I enjoyed the second half.”

The sight of Wayne Rooney starting the game on the United bench surprised many, including Jol, with Kagawa and new signing Van Persie replacing the England international in a re-jigged forward line.

“I was surprised. I thought Van Persie and Rooney would play,” Jol added: “I know Kagawa from my time in Germany and I knew he would not play on the left. I thought it might have been an advantage because my players did not know him. He is a quality player.

“But Rooney is a fantastic player as well.”