Fulham’s fantastic campaign finishes in the Mancunian sunshine this afternoon and, whilst all the attention is on Eric ten Haag’s outfit, this end-of-term meeting with Manchester United matters to Marco Silva and his players. Nobody needs reminding that the Whites were twenty minutes away from their first FA Cup semi-final in two decades after keeping their hosts at arms length commendably before everything went wrong. Silva tossed a water bottle in the direction of the assistant referee, Aleksandar Mitrovic apparently assaulted Chris Kavanagh and Willian was sent off before United exploited their numerical advantage to leave the Serbian’s superb header as the most fleeting of memories on a maddening afternoon.

The furore that followed was something to behold. Fulham’s season seemed as if it might peter out after Mitrovic was suspended for eight games but Silva’s side stitched together an impressive run of results to book a top ten place. The perfectionist Portuguese head coach wants the Whites to record the highest top flight points tally in Fulham’s history, but to do so would require matching the 3-1 win at Old Trafford conjured up by Chris Coleman twenty years ago. It shows just how far Fulham have come since Silva succeeded Scott Parker that such a scenario isn’t immediately dismissed as fanciful.

The Cottagers will have to do without their former Manchester United attacking midfielder after Andreas Pereira broke his foot against City, although Dan James could be fit enough for a final day return having scored against his former employers at Craven Cottage. The classy consistency of Tom Cairney has seen the Whites cope admirably in Pereira’s absence, even if the Brazilian has flourished having been given the regular first-team football that eluded him at Old Trafford. United have sewn up a Champions’ League spot that looked in doubt for much of the season after extending Frank Lampard’s misery on Thursday, but you can’t judge the quality of a side when they are facing the second side in SW6 these days.

ten Haag may have a few injury concerns of his own with the FA Cup final showdown against Pep Guardiola’s Treble-chasing outfit on the horizon. Antony was stretchered off against Chelsea, whilst Luke Shaw might not be risked after aggravating a back problem. The hosts have plenty of options to choose from as well David de Gea, who denied Roy Hodgson a fairytale finish in Hamburg thirteen years ago, potentially playing his last United game in goal. The Red Devils are unbeaten in seventeen home league fixture since Brighton stunned them on the opening weekend of the season, but Fulham are no longer a pushover and have already surprised all the pundits with their fortitude in the top tier.

Silva, an attacking manager who wants his side to be smart with the ball, will send his squad out with confidence – justified in the way that the Whites have competed this season. The one fault in their league record is a failure to beat any of the sides in the top four. Fulham have only mustered three wins from 23 games against the top four – but today would be a great time to spring a surprise. Mitrovic will also be keen to find the net. It promises to be an intriguing affair.

FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Leno; Tete, A. Robinson, Diop, Adarabioyo; Palhinha, Reed; Wilson, Cairney, Willian; Mitrovic. Subs: Rodak, Cedric Soares, Duffy, Lukic, Decordova-Reid, Harris, Kebano, James, Vinciius/